Twenty-seven hours in the close confines of an aircraft with two young active children: This calls for preparation. And imagination.
There are two ways to tackle a lengthy journey with children: easy stages with stop-offs along the way, or “pull the band-aid off quick” where you line up the flights and do it in one full-on go.
I’ve chosen the latter: a dash from Sydney to France as fast as minimal transit times allow. Our first leg from Sydney to Perth should be relatively easy. The third and last hop from Heathrow to EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse should be a cinch. It’s the second flight that is cause for alarm. The mother of all flights: a 17 hours non-stop overnight voyage from Perth to Heathrow.
It’s time to channel my inner Mary Poppins.
I’ve been scouring the charity shops for a selection of toys and activities, and have also bought a few new ones to fill-in the gaps. So far my bag of tricks contains:
a clutch of small plastic toys stashed in zipped-up purses
playdough toys and dough
puzzles with the dimensions (hopefully) of an aeroplane tray table stored in a bag with a photo of the puzzle lid slipped inside
“Where’s Wally” book
activity and sticker books
coloured pencils and pads
My husband calls these the “in-chair” activities. These will be alternated with the “around the cabin” activities; principally down to the bulkhead to do “gym shapes” and making a competition out of just how long we can take to walk to the bathroom.
I hold only faint hopes for the “render them unconscious” activities of brush teeth, pyjamas, teddy and tucked in tight with a blanket. I can almost feel the desolation of that dimmed cabin-lit space, the exhaustion of the big day starting to set-in, the heavy drowsiness… and the wide, excited eyes of my children looking at me expectantly. So I’m steeling myself to be like a commando – manfully withstanding sleep deprivation to fulfil the mission.
Operation flying joeys here we come!