I might come across as this extremely organized traveling mama who plans her trips perfectly and loves to give people advice.
However, my travels are definitely not all unicorns and rainbows!
In MY PREVIOUS POST, I’ve included some tips about traveling solo with kids. Granted, that particular trip went pretty well. The way back, however, is a whole different story…
Make yourself comfortable and grab a mug of coffee, for I’m about to tell you a tale of mistakes, bad coincidences, and general failure. 🙂
If you’re not familiar with the situation: I was flying from Qatar to Poland (this time together with hubby) with two kids aged 1 and 5. I thought it will be a breeze, compared to the solo flight I took earlier. However, due to various circumstances, it turned out that hubby will be flying with us only until Warsaw and then will have to take a night bus to Gdansk. So I’ll have to handle the airport transfer and 1h flight to Gdansk by myself. No big deal. Or so it seemed. We landed in Warsaw, Khaled headed towards baggage claim while I took the offspring and went into the transfer area.
We arrived at the gate with almost 2h left to boarding. At this point, it was already past 8pm. Adam went to the airport playground while Danny munched on a rice cake. Everything looked well. I even managed to post a story to Instagram. 10 minutes later, Danny was screaming bloody murder because I didn’t allow him to:
— Eat cookie crumbs from the floor.
— Dig inside the garbage bin.
— Remove the garbage bin and drag it across the departure hall.
While I chased Danny who ran away with skillfulness surprising for a 13-month-old, Adam jumped after us shoeless, demanding that I immediately assist him in changing his left sock. Our luggage pile was left unattended. Upon return, I had to chase away a group of Russian pre-schoolers trying to claim Adam’s toys.
Another 30 minutes passed. I was drenched in sweat, trying to prevent Danny from grabbing and/or eating other travelers’ food, as well as falling down from an escalator. In the meantime, Adam dug out my iPad and forced all nearby travelers to listen to the fascinating adventures of a well-known cheeky pig.
The pig attracted the attention of Danny, who aborted his suicidal mission in favor of the cartoon. I enjoyed 5 minutes of peace, consequently ignoring the judgmental stares of childless adult passengers. The moment of blissful rest ended pretty quickly when Danny decided it’s time to poop. I gathered our belongings, grabbed both kids and set off to find the nearest baby changing room.
I was literally counting down minutes till boarding in my head. Needless to say, we ended up boarding with a 15min delay. We then waited for another 15min for two passengers who came in late. I enjoyed a moment of deep satisfaction when the shameless men were passing by our seats and Adam asked, pretty loudly:
“Mama, are those the naughty people who made us all wait??”
People around us chuckled, my mood improved a bit. 🙂 The flight itself was short and quite uneventful. Haha, yeah that was a joke. Baby Danny pooped again during take-off, and if you ever saw a toilet in De Havilland Dash 8 aircraft you know that it’s next to impossible to change a baby there. Luckily, the flight was a 45min one. I fed Danny a whole bag of rice cakes – it turned out to be the only thing that helped him forget that it’s late, he’s tired and he just took a smelly poop.
THE BAGGAGE CLAIM.
Wanna hear about one of the dumbest things I’ve ever signed up for? Handling a shitload of baggage, alone, at midnight, with two overtired small kids. Ok, so the plane finally landed! Trouble started immediately. Turned out, we couldn’t get out of it 😀 Adam fell into such a deep sleep, that it took me, two cabin crew AND the first officer 10 minutes to bring him back into the semi-conscious state, where he was able to waddle towards the exit, swaying like a tiny drunk person.
In the meantime, Danny threw a fit because of the puffy jacket which he detests and which I made him wear, because I didn’t want to be that mother who lets her child freeze their butt off. Also, have you ever tried carrying a baby who wears a puffy jacket while wearing a puffy jacket yourself? It kinda feels like trying to hold a wiggly slimy fish. Now imagine having to handle that slippery puffy 12kg baby, a handbag, your older kid’s backpack, a plastic bag, and a huge stuffed toy. Luckily (first happy coincidence!!) we got hooked to the terminal, so the way to baggage claim was short and relatively easy.
Finally, the baggage claim hall. I sat down drowsy Adam on a metal chair, gave him my phone with a cartoon and told him to wait. He was too sleepy to wander off anyway. And guess what was the first thing that appeared on the belt? OUR STROLLER, yay! But it was quite high up. And wrapped in a ton of plastic. And folded. I threw myself towards it with Danny in my arms, shouting “DON’T MOVE!!” at Adam, for good measure.
Confusion followed as I tried to figure out how on Earth I can handle the stroller without putting my barely walking child on a filthy airport floor. A stranger took pity on me and offered to hold my baby. I ripped the plastic from my stroller like a savage and threw Danny inside. Immediate tantrum followed. I rolled the stroller to Adam, asking him to share his cartoon with Danny. Cartoon was ignored, tantrum continued. I decided that instead of trying to achieve the unachievable – calming the overtired super upset baby, I’d rather retrieve my baggage real quick and get out of the airport ASAP.
Easier said than done. My baggage consisted of:
— a 52 inch TV packed in a box weighing a ton (23kg, but felt like 1000),
— an iMac, also bulky as hell in its original box, weighing exactly as much as my younger child,
— a 30kg suitcase.
Plot twist: TV and iMac appeared on a different belt than the suitcase.
Plot twist 2: I soon discovered that there was no way in hell that all those 3 items would fit on one baggage trolley.
After shamelessly relying on strangers to take all the stuff off the belts for me, I’ve ended up with: a fully loaded baggage trolley, a suitcase that didn’t fit on it, a stroller with a very grumpy baby, a half-asleep preschooler who stopped reacting to whatever I was telling him (honestly, can’t blame him!), plus all my carry on luggage mentioned before. Since there is only one of me, and unfortunately I only have two hands, it seemed quite impossible to move all this circus to the arrival hall where my brother was waiting. Again, a kind-hearted stranger helped (God bless him, his family and all his friends and acquaintances!) by offering to push the luggage trolley, so I managed to drag the children and all other stuff along.
In the end, long after midnight, I finally exited the airport. My brother took most of the luggage and Adam, who promptly fell back asleep as soon as we strapped him in a car seat. I set off with Danny and the carry-on to locate my car in the long term parking.
THE IDIOT ON A PARKING.
Congratulating myself for being so smart and paying the parking fee in advance, I loaded Danny and everything else into the car, and set off towards the parking gate. So my misadventures should end here, right? Wrong. After spending 5min trying to figure out how the ticket scanner at the exit works (blonde undercover!), I got two horrible messages:
“number plate not recognized”, and
I don’t think I’ve ever cursed so much in my life. I moved away from the gate, brain working on the highest capacity. At 1 AM, the only open manned parking cashier was on the short term parking, 0,5km away. If I’d decided to go there, I would have to take out the stroller and Danny (who finally managed to fall asleep) and face another meltdown. I could use the automatic parking machine, but that would mean paying again for 8 days of parking!
Then, out of options, I finally decided to read the instruction which I received once I booked the parking. And there it was, in bold: I was supposed to insert the ticket to the parking machine before going out. Apparently 5 years of legal studies didn’t teach me to READ things instead of making assumptions. Ok, not a problem, the automatic machine was right next to me. I followed the instruction and, surprise surprise, exited without any further issues!
By the time I put both kids (and myself) to bed, it was already 2 AM. Danny decided to disregard the disruption in his schedule and woke up promptly at 6 AM.