Sunday, March 29, 2015

Singapore 2015 - Flying 13 hours with 2 toddlers alone

On the flight to Singapore when hub was still with us

I flew back from Singapore to Germany with my kids. Sam was 3.5 years old and Gabriel was 19 months old.

Till today, I can't believe that I did it!

Actually I think that Moms who fly long-haul with their toddlers deserve a medal of their own!

To be honest, I never thought that I would attempt this feat! The only reason that made me attempt it was that I wanted the kids to experience Chinese New Year.

CNY is a huge festival in Singapore. It has even more public holidays (2 days) allocated to it compared to Christmas (1 day).

My childhood memories were filled with many CNYs when I filled up my pockets with lots of red packets that were filled with money! And somehow after having lived in Germany for almost 9 years and having missed all but 1 CNY, I felt that it would be a waste if we left 2 weeks short of CNY.

Well, 4 weeks after my "feat", I would say that it was worth it! The extra 2 weeks in Singapore and CNY experience for the boys (and myself) was definitely worth flying alone!

I thought that I should document my experience as a keepsake for myself as well as to encourage any of you Moms out there, who at some point in time might consider doing just the same thing!

Some little tips that helped me!

My cheeky monkeys just before our maiden flight with 2 kids to Singapore

1. Tell yourself that YOU can do it! 

Mind before matter right?

There's nothing more scary (or maybe there is) than to be stuck in a confined space and be outnumbered by your kids.

But if kids and long-haul flights are so incompatible, then airline companies would have banned kids from travelling before a certain age.

So, since there isn't an age-restriction, I figured "It can't be THAT bad!"

Read up on the flight experiences of others Moms who have done it and tell yourself, "If they can do it, so can I!"

I also meditated on the verse, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil 4:13.

2. NO stress even if you're doing it for the first time

While I was reading up on the flight experiences of a frequent flyer Mom, one thing she said struck a cord in me.

There is NO correlation between frequent flyer kids and well-behaved kids.

She said that sometimes a first-time flyer can be an angel on board while her frequent flyer kids can be total xxxxxx .... or shall we say "just the opposite".

And even if the outbound flight was a nightmare, there's hope that the return flight would be a breeze!

So since the only predictable about kids is their unpredictability, just relax and go with the flow - or at least try. :)

3. Throw away your expectations

We took an afternoon flight from 2pm to about 3.30am (Singapore time), 8.30pm (German time).

Both kids napped like angels around 5pm for 2 hours. When they woke up, we had some small snacks and I continued to walk the aisles with Gabriel.

Ahhh.... 2 hours of peace!

Close to midnight, I started getting stressed that Gabriel didn't show ANY signs of wanting to sleep.

And I was getting tired of keeping him entertained after almost 10 hours onboard.

I did the next best thing I could think of.

I held him in an iron-grip in my arms and tried to put him to sleep.

It was SOOO bad!

He screamed like a madman! I swear, people probably thought I was torturing my baby.

The whole ordeal lasted only about 15mins (I think) but it felt more like half an hour.

And to make matters worse, a lovely old man stood up from his window seat, stood at the aisle and stared at me THE ENTIRE TIME!

I was THAT close to tell him to just mind his own business!

I have thickened my skin with regards to busybody onlookers when it comes to dealing with a cranky kid, but I was getting MORE stressed at having somebody stare at me over my shoulder than I was stressed about having a screaming kid in my arms!

It was quite hard to tell if he was really staring at me cos the cabin lights were off, but what else could he have been doing? He certainly wasn't talking to anybody!


Back to my story, my dear Gabriel didn't fall asleep and I decided to sit him on my lap and watch my movie with me.

It was then that he fell asleep within the next 5 mins! - After I stopped trying!

So Mommies, if your kid doesn't want to sleep, don't stress about it. They will sleep when they are too tired to keep awake. 

4. DON'T, I repeat DON'T feel so apologetic whenever your kid cries. 

I read this from a fellow Mom's flight experience. 

I paid full price for Sammy's ticket and Gabriel's ticket albeit cheaper, still costs us money.

We're not free-riders. Our kids are paying passengers, just like everyone else.

As much as the cries from a kid is a nuisance, that is life. It's normal. Every baby / kid cries - more so in confined space on a flight.

So, hold your head high, take a deep breath and take care of your kids the way you always do.

5. Have a back-up just in case

What do I mean?

Ok, at the risk of people judging me, I hand-carried a child medication meant for nausea / headache that causes mild drowsiness.

I figured, if all things fail, I would literally give my kid some help to fall asleep.

I've travelled alone with Sammy when he was barely 5 months old. He was still a baby and could sleep anywhere and everywhere.

This time, my 2 kids were toddlers and as much as I was prepping myself that all will be fine, I just wasn't so sure if everything would be fine.

The flight could be filled to the last seat, both my kids could have been screaming for entire 13 hours (highly-unlikely but not impossible), and I could have been at my wits' ends before arriving at our destination.

Every Mom should make a judgment call for herself, but personally, the medication was more a psychological thing for me than anything else. I knew that I would only use it as a last resort.

The only reason why I didn't use it when Gabriel screamed blood murder was because I didn't know how potent the drug was and if he would be totally knocked out for the next few hours such that I would have had to carry a sleeping baby, my hand luggage as well as bring my older kid out of the plane. That would be too cumbersome compared to having both kids awake and walking.

I had already survived 10 hours of flight time, so 3 hours would be manageable. It could very much have been a different story if Gabriel was screaming constantly for hours!

6. Find something to pass the time... For yourself. 

I managed to watch 3 full movies during our 13-hour flight!

I kept my earphones in, while my eyes were glued to both Gabriel and the screen. It worked out pretty well overall because Gabriel played with his cars quite often.

I couldn't always watch all the scenes but since I kept the earphones in, I could still follow the story line.

Another idea would be to read those magazines they have onboard. While walking up and down the aisle with Gabe a million times, I was glad to have something to hold and read. I read while he played with other passengers, or made his pit stop at the air-stewardesses "kitchen".

Breaking up the flight into pockets of movie time / walking time / toilet breaks helped to break the monotony of a flight.

7. Bring extra change of clothes for yourself

I was so diligent in packing a lot of change of clothes for the kids. Gabriel went through almost 6 / 7 diapers in 13 hours!!! That is mega unusual of him, but he seemed to have a very active disgestive system at higher altitudes!

Sammy didn't need any change of clothes.

But I totally forgot to pack something for myself. Once I was drinking a soft drink and Gabriel climbed onto my lap and started jumping on me.

Needless to say, I had coke spilled ALL over my jeans! That was the only time I got a flight personnel to take BOTH kids from me, so I could somewhat try to save myself from being an ant-magnet (not that there are ants up there).

My jeans couldn't dry completely so I had to sit uncomfortably for the rest of the flight. Lesson learnt!

8. Don't choose the baby seats just behind business class

I'm not sure if this only applies to Singapore Airlines, but my experience was that my kid was not allowed to take a step into Business Class.

It was quite impossible to stop him though! There was this curtain that separated Economy and Business class and that curtain is THE most fun playtoy for a kid!

He would walk through the curtain and play with his toy car on one of those cushy sofa seats. The flight was extremely empty, so the nearest business class passenger was 3-4 seats in front of the seat that Gabriel was playing at.

But I was told numerous times to take him out because of "company policy".

Bottom line, if you need a basinette seat, choose the ones further back in the plane, since business class is usually in the front.

9. Decide for yourself at what age do you want to travel with your kid

All this time, I've been talking about my younger one. Why?

Because my 3.5 year was a breeze!

Sam absolutely loved being on a plane! He loved it! He loved his movies!

Or should I say "movie".

What movie does a kid watch when he's on a plane?

"Planes" of course!

That boy watched that movie 4 times I believe! He only took breaks when he had to go to the toilet.

He never once screamed and when I told him, "Ok Sam, once you're done with this movie, you nap ok? Gabriel is already napping.", he went down like clockwork!

What I wanted to say is, the age of a kid plays a big role!

0-1: Great for travelling because the baby sleeps and eat. I'm speaking of the typical case of course.

1-2: The age that is hard hard hard! No pattern, kid is uninterested in media and requires constant   movement and attention.

2-3: Similar to 1-2 but a bit easier (I think). Sam was 1.5 years old when we flew once but I can't remember much of the flight.

Above 3: A breeze. Child understands what it means to watch a movie.

I think that about surmises my thoughts of flying alone!

If you have any more tips, do let me know!


And because this week has been such a sad week for Singaporeans, I'll leave you with some goofy pictures of the boys.

I was reflecting today and thought to myself, "Man, if LKY didn't exist, there could be a high chance that I wouldn't have met my hubby, since my parents might not have had enough money to send me abroad and my kids might not even have been born!"

So here's to LIFE - May we make each day count and labor in the strength that God enables us to. 

To LEADERS - May we continue to pray for them that they would continue to be incorruptible, visionary, humble and not afraid to do what's right.

To the GOD who blesses us with EVERY good and PERFECT gift - May we continue to seek Him first before all things.

Best part of being home? To be reunited with my hubby again!

Goofing around

All serious

Peek a boo!

There I am again!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Just stumbled in! I did take my kids too on long haul flights when they were toddlers. The best thing is kids can't get lost on a plane, so if they wandered off while I was napping, so be it! Abt diapers, I thought the airline supplied them on request, although I imagine u might prefer your own brand. Have always packed an extra set of clothes and underwear on flights, and even the kids do that now when they travel. One thing I did, which may help, was I would buy a bunch of dollar store toys, wrap them in leftover gift wrap or the comics section of the Sunday papers, and have these "presents" at the ready for being good, or napping, or eating their meals. And I didn't care if the toys got left behind on the plane.


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