An affair to remember

Dear Dubai, I’ve cheated on you, I’m not sorry, I didn’t think about you the entire time, in fact you didn’t cross my mind once and I will do again…………You want to know who with, you say? Ok…..It was with Australia.

Yes it happened as I knew it  would, I fell in love with Australia, now I have been known to fall for other places like Hong Kong but this time it was different. Australia is a place you would never tire off. a great outdoor lifestyle, beautiful greenery and fresh air, laid back and friendly people. Expensive? Yes but so worth it. From the minute we arrived we were greeted by a really friendly taxi driver, who gave us tips on where to go, to buy an Opal card (which was a godsend). Rather than selling us 4 adult ones the newsagent sent us somewhere else  to buy children’s ones. You can use these on all forms of public transport and it makes life so much easier and top up when they needed it. Our Uber drivers were so fanatstic and full of local knowledge too and as an added bonus knew where they were going. Our first airbnb was in Birchgrove, Balmain. A 10 minute walk to the ferry crossing and park just down the road which the kids loved. On our doorstep a newsagents, corner shop, launderette and cafe. With a high street about 10 minutes away too. I swear now with children Airbnb is the only way to go. The house we rented was spacious enough, had a big enough kitchen I cook a basis meal for 4, we ate lunch out most days but eating out in Sydney isn’t cheap and we would have gone through our budget like no ones business. Birchgrove had no wifi or TV so we downloaded a few Netflix programs for the kids but they basically made their own fun playing with some toys we brought with us. In the evenings EPD and I sat outside on the terrace with a beer or wine and read our books, he read 5 and I’m still working through mine, god damn you Outlander series for being so thick!!!! and talked. I feel like as a family we re connected without the distraction of electronics. I know not being able to go on FB every 5 minutes did my head the world of good. It was us in our little world and we didn’t need anyone else. The house was nothing fancy at all, in fact it did lack a bit of character but it was clean and comfortable and did its job of being a base for us. Our 2nd Airbnb in the Blue Mountains was spectacular and will  into more details when I get to that point of our trip.

Our first day In Sydney is when I fell in love, we caught the ferry to Circular Quay, had lunch along the harborside and took a walk up around the opera house, all through the botanical garden and then to Sydney Tower.

 

 

It was hot but hot lovely not sticky or humid. The Gardens were beautiful and the children loved running and exploring. The Opera House was everything I expected it to be, feeling so surreal that we were actually stood in front of it. We took some token photos but didn’t go inside.

 

We then moved on to  Sydney tower which was fabulous though and actually great value for money as when we brought our entry ticket we got an offer that covered two other attractions in Sydney. We watched a 3D short film about Australia and then headed up in the lift! By the time we got to Sydney tower we had pretty much reached our limit and being jet lagged we had a look from the 360’C viewing area and then headed home to sleep off the jet lag and start afresh the next day! It was a great day and everyone was pooped I went to bed with a big smile on my face knowing I was going to enjoy EVERY minute of this trip of a lifetime.

Stop making it so complicated

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A friend/my old midwife  for a laugh posted this on her FB page yesterday. I do laugh at these things myself. However I can honestly say that I have probably subconsciously stored a few bits of this meme to drive me crazy at any given time in the future and convince me I’m doing a terrible job as a mother. I can put my hand up right now and say “Hello I am Expat Mammy and I feel that working full-time at my children’s school since last September had a detrimental effect on my son academically” Why? because I was always to tired to put the time in for his homework, his reading, his spelling. Ok not entirely my fault, if he put as much time in energy in to his school work that he does to fighting Pokémon he’d be a flipping genius.

My point is, how many of us actually take all this in and worry that we don’t do it? I know I do, every time I shout I’m worried I’ll be spending our retirement fund on therapy. It’s us we are doing this to ourselves. I think as a society we share too much (she say’s bearing her soul on a SM platform) we are always out to impress someone, we brag about our lifestyles (Dubai is the worse for this) we talk about things that some Mammies were blissfully unaware of and now they are getting their knickers in a twist because are doing or not doing the right thing. And why? Why are we trying to impress, mostly people who really don’t care, they’re just friends with you on social media to be nosey?

So confession time!

I’m not actually sure that I’m taking care of my children’s academic, psychological, mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, nutritional and social needs on a daily basis. I know I tell them I love them on a daily basis, I cook for them…..Sometimes pasta with sauce from a  jar as they have swimming lessons…BOOM, Physical needs right there Expatmammy 1 Society 0. I do homework, read with them. Multilingual house? EPD speaks Irish to them when I nag him and I guess Bristolian is a language in itself so I’ve got that covered. I don’t want to helicopter as half the time if we’re in the park I just want them to leave me alone for 5 minutes, just me? We live in a villa, in a badly lit street where cars drive really fast, I can’t let them out to play in the compound because the swimming pool scares me…. First world problems. I take them to the Dr for anti B’s when they are sick, I definiately understimulate when I’m hungover!  Oh and I hate coconut oil, it makes everything taste like rabbit hutch.

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LPV: I hate you, we didn’t live in a cul-de-sac and that ruined my life Mammy!! Miss C: Hmmmm, what bad stuff can I get away with and blame it on my parents?

Flying survival guide

Ok so I’m not going to sit at my mac, act all holier than thou trying to make out that I know all there is to know about flying with children. I’m not an expert but what I do have is a whole lot of experience. LPV made his first long haul flight at  6 months, do I enjoy flying with children? Umm..NO but it’s a question of having too. On average we make 6 plane journeys a year, 4 long haul, 2 short.  I actually prefer the long haul as you can get comfy, rather than a quick up and down. Now, for someone who has severe aeroplane narcolepsy flying with my kids is torture. The minute I set foot on a plane I want to sleep. Before kids I would sit and  before we had taken off I’d be in dreamland….NOW I have to make sure he’s sorted, she’s sorted, ear phones are working, they’ve eaten, they drank, they’ve been to the toilet (which they usually need the minute I close my eyes). Family holidays we usually tag team as EPD knows I could fall asleep at any minute but when we go on our summer escape I’m always  flying solo.

 

  1. Think carefully about your flight timings

What works for some may not work for you, just because Tarquin’s Mammy (and her 20 million family members she fly’s over to help her on the one journey) fly during the day and they fly direct and that works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. I personally hate flying direct I like to know when I’ve finished my journey the folks will be there to pick me up in Brissle and I’ll have a cup of tea in my hand within 20 mins. I prefer to fly via Amsterdam, the kids get a break after 6 hours to stretch their legs, then we are only an hours away from our home town.  No KLM doesn’t have same ring as “oh we always fly Emirates darling” However I can’t fault them, they are attentive and helpful, especially to families.  And they don’t cost the earth either.

We always fly at night too, a freaking nightmare for some? Yes but for me I now have a wee routine , kids go to bed at 6/7 we wake them up to leave for the airport, they run around like looneys at said airport, board the plane, watch a bit of TV/ipad for 30 minutes then they sleep for 4-5 hours. Yes I get odd looks about kids walking around in their PJ’s but I don’t care, If I could wear my pj’s on a plane I would.

2. Food Glorious Food

If you have fussy eaters like I do  it’s best to pack your own snacks. I usually bring cereal bars, croissants, bananas, few treats and have plenty of water. This also helps if you’re delayed, as airport prices are not exactly cheep. There’s no point worrying if they’re eating junk all night, you are not going to be able to control it so just don’t try. Mine usually get some sort of treat fast food meal at the airport, this also mean’s I don’t have to disturb them if they are sound asleep. Oh and another positive, you can also steal the snacks too….

3. Be comfortable

Like I said, my children wear their pj’s on the flight. You sleep better when you’re comfortable I think, nothing worse than the button of your jeans sticking right into your tummy. I personally still do wear my jeans, cos ain’t nobody wants to see Mammy  in her joggers!! I usually bring a one of Miss C’s wee pillows as the plane ones are like thin pieces of card, children’s bedtime friends are a must too, especially when flying at night. If you have a “sleep routine” in the words of Princess Anna “let it go, let it go” It’s not going to happen. If they don’t sleep?……….Well that moves me on to the next point.

4. It’s all about the entertainment

There is no denying that Emirates do have the better inflight entertainment but  hey ho, what can you do! There is always something on that they’ll watch. Invest in a pair of decent, volume control kids headphones. That way you won’t be trying to clip a pair of standard earphones on to tiny ears right in the middle of the crucial part of your movie. Fully charge ipads, nintendos, and phones. Have a mix of games that will work without wifi as only certain airlines have it. Sticker books,  dot to dot and some lego men. I will be bringing a couple of our favourite Roald Dhal book for our impending journey to Australia. The kids will sit for a good while to listen to those. A favourite game is dobble (we have the Star Wars one), small enough for your handbag, you don’t need masses of space and it’s fun too.

5. Alone

The last one I can’t stress the importance of enough. I like to pretend I’m on my own plane in a non asshole type way If you worry about other people around you you’ll drive yourself insane. Yes it’s a nightmare when baby is screaming and you can’t stop them, yes it’s upsetting when you see people shaking their head, tutting and judging. However…take a big deep breath and think up yours!! You’ve paid just as much money to fly, just because you have children with you doesn’t make you less entitled to be there. This is their issue not yours, if you get anxious then baby/child/children will follow suit then the only thing that will happen is you rocking in a corner of the plane with a bottle of vodka. However on the other hand, If your children are behaving behaving badly, correct their behaviour!!! As your letting the rest of us parents down!!

Just remember its only a small chunk out of your life and once you get to where you need to go, it’ll be grand!

So wish me luck for our 14.5 hours to Sydney next week!