What do you get when you mix a bottle of red wine and a night in watching your best friends on TV who feature on Million Dollar Listing LA? The confidence to book a trip to LA with two tiny people, two adults and..... 3 seats. And that was how our LA adventure was born. Since becoming a family of 4 we have taken quite a few flights, and our son has been entertained with a KeepEmQuiet pack and an iPad whilst our daughter was young enough to gaze around and sit on my lap. But now she is 1, a confident walker, does not like to watch any sort of TV and is not the greatest napper unless in her own cot. So to say I was nervous of the journey was a bit of an understatement.
And it turns out rightly so. For 11 hours I was sat down for a total of 2 of them - she managed two separate 1-hour naps, which took about 45 minutes of rocking to achieve, and otherwise we were walking around and around and around again. I truly believe that 1 is the trickiest age to travel for long periods as the novelty of walking means that they don’t really want to do much else, and they are still a little too young to concentrate on stickers, puzzles. We did pack some things into one of our travel kits such as plush toys, animal figures and board books & a friend of ours gave us a tip about little empty lipsticks and containers which can be found on Amazon, that they like to remove/replace the lids of - but otherwise we just walked around. DVT was definitely not a worry on this flight - my legs have never been so stretched!
Now, my son who is 3 and a half, we were banking on him being easier. He would, of course, have his own seat with a TV - is that not the most exciting thing for a little boy or girl? It would seem not! The boy who can usually watch hours of TV decided he didn’t want to watch much at all! Not a single full episode let alone a film! Thankfully the KeepEmQuiet pack kept him busy, with colouring in, PlayDoh, sticker albums/scenes, some lego building, and puzzles to name some of the items. This bought us some time! Worst of all - he didn’t even close his eyes for one second, no naps at all! So the journey was quite intense - and a lot of under the breath curses, saying we would never do this again. What were we thinking traveling so far with two so young!
But then somehow the time passes and we are touching down in Los Angeles, greeted by our best friend and the California heat and the journey really does feel like a distant memory.
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! 3 weeks in Los Angeles, away from the reality and madness of London. The weather was not great but when the sun shone it was amazing to go to local parks, sit outside and eat, go to the beach, and swim in the pool. We were living with friends with 2 children so it was like one massive playdate for the entire time and so amazing to catch up with old friends and make some new ones too.
Would I do it again? HELL YES!
PS The flight home was WAY better! Everyone slept (a BIG thank-you to Fly-Tot which was awesome and helped our son to get comfortable and get a good stretch of sleep!)
Although, the jet lag when home was so much worse. It’s taken a week to adjust and get on some sort of normal schedule and feel human again. Going there was a few days of early nights and early rises - although my son adjusted immediately. I was so panicked about the jet lag with two children, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be.
So if you are thinking of taking a holiday with a long haul flight know that no matter how long the journey is, when it is done, it is like childbirth, you very quickly forget all about it.
Also, if you want your child to watch TV on the plane, maybe limit it before you go so it is exciting for them! I will definitely be doing this with our son when we next do a long trip.
PPS I know we are bias but our travel packs really do help, they split up the time between them (hopefully) glued to a screen and give them something tangible to use and engage with - not to mention lots of the items and activities the parents can get involved with too.
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With lockdown looming once again, families across England will be spending more time together at home this month than usual.
We have curated a list of lockdown entertainment ideas on how to keep children busy and happy, from indoor crafting ideas to creative ways to get them outside.
The tips range from ones that can be done online, like exploring a museum through a virtual tour, to art projects, so that there is something for everyone!