Travelling with toddlers is not for the faint hearted.
The mere mention of driving 40 minutes across town to visit family over the last 3 years have caused dry mouth and nervous sweats from my husband and I, due to non-stop crying/fighting from door to door from our identical twin girls. But now that they are on the cusp of turning 3, everyone is finally starting to chill out a bit, and holidays are becoming more of a possibility.
My husband grew up with magical childhood memories of holidays on the coast. Beach bliss, hot summer days, solitude and playing until dinner time. A wild and wonderful adventure. So this holiday season we took the girls down to the family holiday house on the coast, hoping to make some new memories. This is a little of how it unfolded:
By 9am we had jammed everything into the hatchback; potties, baby monitor, grow clock, enough snacks to feed a football team, and the essential bedtime teddies. Music boxes, snow globes, dolls, sunglasses, jewellery boxes and handbags were also all over the backseat, to help keep the girls entertained. If we had been pulled over by a police officer they would have surely suspected we were fleeing the country or relocating entirely.
A fight broke out in the back seat before we had even left the driveway, with teary claims of snatching, ‘Somebody bit me’ and ‘I’m doing a wee’, before we finally got on our way.
In years past we used to play some chilled tunes and chat during the drive, reflecting on recent times and making future plans. This year one twin was bellowing outdated Christmas carols, while the other twin whined that the singing was too loud, in an equally entertaining tone.
Ten minutes in I produced snacks, which were carefully placed in the designated 'leg room' area for easy access. Mothers everywhere can commiserate that the space is much better used for apocalyptic hordes of snacks, drink bottles, wet wipes, et cetera.
The lull of the car eventually soothed them, and there was a request for the kids CD that has been ejected and reinserted by clumsy toddler hands so many times that not one single song works without skipping. If we even attempted to keep the volume at a reasonable level to continue adult conversation, we were met with derision and complaints that they couldn’t hear it. We waited patiently for 30 seconds at the beginning of each song before it started to skip, followed by the chorus of ‘this one's not working’, before we forwarded to the next song. This pattern continued for a very long 60 minutes.
Upon arrival at our destination, and after a post car trip potty wee, we took off to the Saturday market to see if there were any spoils to inspire us for lunch or dinner. As I navigated the check-out we realised we would be carrying two crying children home. They demanded a nap so when we got home, we took them upstairs with trepidation wondering if they were tired enough and hoping they would stay put in the mattresses set out for them on the floor.
Two hours and 40 minutes later we conceded defeat and that we would have to push through until bedtime. But by 6 pm they were in total meltdown. But we pushed them to 6:30 to make pretty darn sure they would go to sleep and leave us with a modicum of adult time (for Indian takeaway, and mindlessly watching TV for an hour before succumbing to total exhaustion.) For the first time they were sleeping side by side on the mattresses and I sang and stroked their heads as they very quickly fell into a beautiful deep sleep.
When we returned home the following evening, we promptly booked ourselves a week in the tropics for 8 months' time with fingers and toes crossed….oh did I mention and bringing the grandparents for back up? That old trick. Wish us luck.