Here are some of the lessons I learned from my recent trip to our old stomping ground of Sydney:
1. Be prepared for embarrassing answers to innocent questions (especially if you are in public). If you are getting on a train in Sydney, explain you will be going underground and then ask your four-year-old what else lives underground, expect that they will tell you (and the entire carriage) that ‘poo pipes’ also are underground. I was hoping for bunnies or possibly worms. Not a discussion about the sewerage system.
2. Despite their reputation, locals can actually be very friendly to tourists. I lost count of the number of times we had people rush to help lift our pram up stairs or on/off trains and buses. Two blokes put their designer beers down to help my husband lift the pram up an enormous flight of stairs in the pouring rain. Thanks guys.
2b. There are an awful lot of stairs in Sydney.
3. Little kids look really cute in big beds.
4. Kids will fight sleep. Despite all the stolen blankets and pillows from Business Class, kids in Economy will avoid sleep at all costs. Even if you have sacrificed your seat for the 20 month old, and are propped in the seat pocket of the person in front of you, they will remain awake no matter how long the flight. However as soon as they are placed in their car seat for the short drive home, they will pass out.
5. Don’t teach children the word ‘bored’. Because then they will start to use it.
6. Don't Let Crap Weather Ruin Your Holiday. Even the funnest holiday adventure such as jumping in puddles and running through the rain can be made un-fun if your Mum is screaming at you to hurry up or we’ll miss the plane.
7. Be Creative. A pair of Qantas headphones, even if not connected, will bring at least 20 minutes amusement to a 20 month old, and at least an hour (connected) for a four year old.
8. Accept the Consequences of Free Choice. If you are going to let a four year old girl chose an outfit from The Build-A-Bear Workshop for her new pink rabbit, you have to accept the fact that she may well choose the one outfit that looks like a hooker (black, sequined, strappy dress, silver shoes, pink sparkly handbag).
9. Small Children do not have the same reservations we do. A toddler will eat a lollypop even if it is covered with toy fluff. However, they will also begin to cough up furballs.
10. As difficult as you may have it, someone else always has it worse. You may be battling two screaming children on the train or bus, there may be hair pulling and bad words cursed under your breath, but when you look across the aisle and see the woman with tears in her eyes, staring sadly at your beautiful children, children you were able to conceive and carry and birth, remind yourself that you have it good.
For more top tips on surviving travel with small children, head to my article at Weekend Notes.