Holidaying alone with kids.

There are two types of people in this world.

Some will see a young, single mother struggling and will insist on helping her to carry the buggy down a flight of stairs.

Others will see a young, single mother struggling and will snap at her for sitting next to them and spoiling their peace when her child is crying and there is nowhere else to sit. 

And that is what leads me to this blog post. It's more of a rant than anything else. But some of you may be able to resonate. As some of you know, we recently came back from holiday (and we are currently feeling the holiday blues more than ever.) I've shared some of the best bits on social media and my iPhone is full to the brim with beautiful holiday pics to look back on over the years. But what about the not-so-pretty bits? I'll give you an insight.....

Travelling alone with a toddler:
  • Is it doable? Yes.
  • Is it stress inducing? Yes.
  • Does it take much preparation? GOD YES.
  • Did I want to run out of the airport and go back home before we'd even reached our departure gate? Yes. 
  • Is it worth it? Most definitely, yes.
 I am yet to "properly" holiday alone with my son. But we've done a fair amount of travelling to see family who live abroad/on the other side of the country and most of that travelling has been just the two of us. So, I'm fairly familiar with the realities of it all and how much preparation (mentally and physically) it takes to pack up and leave home for a break away with a toddler. 

We've endured long car journeys to Cornwall; picture it: me driving, Etienne kicking my chair the whole way and demolishing about 30 packets of crisps in the back of the car, then sprinkling the remaining crumbs all over the recently valeted interior. We've flown a few times before but mostly when he was much younger and far easier to distract with a bottle of milk. It has never been an easy journey, what with carrying luggage and managing a baby and buggy all by myself. But I've never been one to shy away from going out and doing things I want to do so, even as a single mum, I know that if I want a holiday, I'll have to brave it and do it without the help or company of another.  There's always a way, right? Sure it's complicated and there are plenty of obstacles to overcome but we deserve family holidays just as much as "normal" families do. Why should we miss out? 

Hence why this summer I decided we'd come out to France to visit family. It's only a short flight; around an hour and 15 minutes, plus we're fortunate enough to be able to stay at my parent's house over there so not only is it cost effective, it's also a chance to see our family and it doesn't feel quite so daunting to hop on a plane when you know that somebody familiar is waiting for you on the other side.

This year, Etienne is at an age where he appreciates planes and is incredibly excited by them. So, I thought we'd both be in for an easy journey, or at least an enjoyable one!
Of course, Etienne was SO excited when we reached the airport. "Planes mummy! Look, a big one! I want to go on!!!" ....oh. He wanted to get on the plane straight away and in true two year old style, he could not and would not understand that he needed to wait for our plane to reach our designated gate first. Annoyingly, we were at the airport much earlier than we needed to be and our flight was then delayed by about 45 minutes so...within a busy airport, with little to nothing for kids to do (other than eat) he started to become frustrated. 

I'll tell you something, within that airport, there was not one person who smiled at us. It was a rat race in there, everyone pushing, trying to get through security first. People staring, and I mean really staring (disapprovingly) when Etienne grizzled in his buggy upon being stuck in a huge queue at check in. (Not sure what else would be expected of a two year old who just wants to get on that plane and get to France to see his grandparents, of course he didn't want to be stuck among the chaos of the airport....)

For some reason, it felt like nobody in that airport had ever seen a child before. The looks I got when Etienne became fed up and cried and whinged to get out of the buggy (like children do sometimes) were unbelievable. Not one person offered to help. Not one. 

It was bloody obvious that I was on my own with a young child and that I was stressed and fed up and struggling. Had someone simply offered to lend a hand or even smiled reassuringly when I was juggling about 4 bags of luggage and a child who was ready to tip the buggy in his rage, I might not have felt so defeated so soon into our journey. We hadn't even got through security and I already felt like I wanted to leave and go back home. Etienne was kicking his shoes off and throwing things out of the pram whilst I was trying desperately to keep an eye on our bags all over the floor whilst keeping the buggy upright and attempting to calm him down. 

Anyway, we made it through security -just about, after Etienne's beloved Panda was taken and swabbed and tested in case we'd tried to use the black and white furry fella to hide drugs or something, and of course- this did not go down well. Cue sobbing, distraught child and people whizzing around us like flies trying to get through security as quickly as possible. 

Amidst the rush of trying to gather our belongings from the trays, whilst making sure I hadn't forgotten anything and checking a thousand times that I had both passports in my bag, I managed to actually walk off without my shoes. Yes, I'm serious. I got quite far without them before one of the security guards chased after me, mocking me for the fact I'd managed to forget my own shoes. #mumfail

Ahh, the departure lounge. The shops, the restaurants, the bars and the place to get excited about the holiday which is now well within reach! People are ordering alcoholic beverages and really getting the holiday started. Splashing the cash on duty free goodies and probably floating around the place with their one bag of hand luggage and a free hand to shop with. A FREE HAND.

The departure lounge with a toddler? HELL. 
It's like a busy shopping mall, noisy, crowded and far from child-friendly, only its topped off by suitcases attacking your Achilles heel and the average person's walking pace cranked up to around 70mph (and, if you don't keep up with that pace, you're most certainly in for being barged out of the way or losing your place in the never ending queues.)

It was stressful. So stressful, and I'd just about had enough of this place but I was trying my very best using every fraction of my strength to hold it together and "man up" though.. it all came crumbling down fast when I went to sit Etienne down next to an elderly man so that I could let him eat his raisins he'd been screaming for in the hideous queue of people who all seemed to be starting their holiday off with a boots meal deal (and rolling their eyes at the tantrum-fuelled child who appeared to be putting a downer on their pre-holiday vibes.) As I plonked Etienne onto the empty chair, this elderly man grumbled "oh, don't bring him over here" in a seriously disgusted, aggressive tone. In fact, he said it so nastily that I instantly learnt of his hatred towards children and that he'd clearly never had his own children. 

I was tired from carrying luggage and I was burnt out (not to mention the fact that I actually had a viral infection and temperature to go with it- yay for holiday vibes!) so, with this comment, the tears began to flow (after I'd bitten his head off and told him how rude he was, of course.)

I was crying, Etienne was crying, everyone was still rushing past us but now they were staring too and probably wondering why the hell we both looked so sad in our summer hats and sandals. Who could possibly feel down when they're waiting to board a plane to take them on their summer holiday? But I really did feel totally deflated and by this point all I really wanted was the comfort of our home and nobody to look down their nose at my parenting skills based on my sons tantrum in an overwhelming airport. 

Once we boarded the plane, things took a turn for the better and the rest of the journey proceeded smoothly and,more importantly, happily. My organisation paid off and Etienne enjoyed colouring, stickers and story books on the plane whilst shovelling food into his mouth because eating in the sky is soooo much more exciting than eating on the ground when you're 2 years old... Winking face He was chilled out and he loved looking at the clouds from his window. 

We reached our family's home in France and by this point, the tears in the airport were a distant memory. Needless to say, we enjoyed a week of sunshine and relaxation in the beautiful French countryside.

Of course, our holiday was well worth the awful airport experience and I'd do it all over again (although not just yet!) We've come back feeling rested and we've brought home a whole load of happy memories and maybe even some pretty big future plans up our sleeves... :D 

Yes it can be daunting and intimidating to travel alone with kids but it's so worth it. I would hate for my son to grow up without the memories of family holidays and summer breaks away, even if those  holidays are just within our home country. Everyone needs a change of scenery every now and then. Even children! Especially, the grumpy two year old ones! 

*Middle finger to the rude old man!*

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