It is a well known fact among travellng parents that the plane ride on any long haul flight is “a special kind of hell” (as quoted by my lovely neighbour, Tilda).
At 4 hours until we landed in Munich, I understood what she meant. Little Miss 3 was screaming “I want TV!!!”, our 6 month old was refusing to feed and didn’t want to go to sleep unless on Mummy and we had had a combined 3.5 hour sleep over the course of our then 22 hour journey. Let’s just say Craig had to take a walk to the back of the plane for a break. Thankfully, after some more white noise (care of my mobile) and a solid 10 minutes of squats got the 6 month old to sleep. Then, eventually, the sleep spray plus the guise of a “rest with our eyes closed” and plane pal got the 3 year old to sleep basically for the rest of the flight.
We had always known the plane ride would be hard, so we had prepared for it as best we could with some essential items.
The first plane ride went surprisingly well, I had booked a 3.15pm flight out of Auckland thinking that that would be enough time to settle the kids before their normal bedtime. Then of course hoped that they would sleep the majority of the 10 hour flight to Singapore and so would we. So the kids slept well, but Craig didn’t at all and I had a very disrupted 1.5 hours. We hadn’t bargained on the fact that flying to Singapore at that time of the afternoon would mean we were flying through daylight the whole time. Despite the airline team did their best to dim the lights, but window shades were left open and man, it was BRIGHT.
That combined with a meal service and full cabin lighting 2 hours before we landed meant we got very little sleep. I wished we had booked an overnight stopover in Singapore at that stage because Craig and I would’ve happily crashed when we landed. Instead of course we had a 3.5 hour stop over in Changi airport.
One of the best things we brought with us on the plane was a big piece of black fabric (approx 2.5m x 2m), we managed to create a tent over our airline seats and the bassinet with the help of some pegs and kiwi ingenuity which meant our children slumbered in dimly lit conditions. It also meant that while Thea played with a well placed Rocket playground and her activity pack, Craig slept on a couch in our departure lounge.
After the first flight where we didn’t sleep under the black curtain with them (major error on our parts), as soon as we’d had some food and settled the kids on the second flight we tried for some all important sleep.
We managed a broken 4 hours between the kids waking and other aeroplane noises and then were up with the kids getting naps because it was daytime according to their body clocks. The air hostesses were awesome to go and say hi to, and our light up unicorn kept them occupied with a light show.
Our littlest one was waning badly by the time we landed. But the front pack combined with some delicious solid foods from the plane meant she could nap while we cleared customs and got our bags (which took a while).
So in summary, our biggest wins were:
- The Plane Pal for Thea: a inflatable foot rest that meant she could lie flat on the airline seat asleep ($97 including shipping)
- The black cloth from spotlight (approx 2m x 2.5m) (can’t remember the cost maybe $15): it meant we could control the lighting and weren’t as interrupted by our fellow passengers and cabin crew
- The $6 Warehouse 5XL Navy T-shirt: I used this to breast feed under to minimise distraction and we also used it as a cover to make sleeping easier because it was darker
- The Mountain Buggy Bagrider Suitcase – a carry on suitcase that doubles as a pram, no hassles folding it up the harness slips into the suitcase when not in use. We got ours second-hand on Trade Me for $120
- The Manduca front blackline front pack – has a small shade on it that you can pop over baby’s head and makes it easier to jig or rock bubs to sleep. As well you can easily navigate both customs and the endless airport walking while they slumber.
Now we’re in Munich and the flight is over.