Flying high….in the sky

Because flying across Australia solo with four boys is SUCH a breeze, I thought to myself, what better time than now (kosher meals having failed to make their appearance, toddler mourning a wireless connection) to revive my blog? 
Baby N is now Toddler N, and come the end of June, will be Little Boy N. Or perhaps “The Little Boy formerly known as Baby N”. Sure, it’s a mouthful, but it has a ring to it. 

Anyway onto business. 

Shopping Girl’s Top 5 tips for Flying With Kids:

1. i (Prounounced “eye”).

To be clear, i-anything, loaded with shows. The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N’s favourite apps (YouTube Kids and abckids iview) only work with a wireless connection so make sure you download your shows prior to take-off. At least 5 of each of your child’s favourite shows. Apparently there are ways to save from YouTube onto your device, which no doubt one day I will work out, but in the meantime just pay for them on iTunes (worth every penny and if we didn’t buy something, it wouldn’t be a Shopping Girl post).   

Recently we flew to Melbourne. The flight from Sydney to Melbourne is so short it barely counts. But on this flight I discovered that my carefully curated collection of BBC’s finest (The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N – henceforth TTFKABN – has a mostly British accent which has nothing to do with my birthplace – Birmingham – and everything to do with Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly) had unceremoniously vacated my iPad and returned itself to my cloud. My plane inaccessible cloud. Fortunately I keep some emergency shows on my iphone. 


I don’t care if Steve Jobs deserves more of the credit than I actually do….I’m much better suited to accepting praise on the behaviour of my children than I am slinking off the plane, unruly toddler barely in tow, wavering between staring at the ground and staring every passenger directly in the eye, just DARING them to say something.

Devices people. Devices. There are no screen time limits in the air.

2. Qantas. Book with Qantas. Worth every penny when travelling alone with children. Space (it’s relative of course). Screens. Kosher food (sometimes missing). As I type this, they are delivering (blessedly kosher) Mars Bar ice creams to every passenger. Lunch, kids! 

Times have changed since the memorable trip of 2005 where First Born informed every passenger on board in a voice more appropriate for reaching the back rows of the Sydney Opera House concert hall, that “the icecream on the plane’s NOT KOSHER!”.


3. Headphones. Aeroplanes are noisy. It’s hard for the offspring to hear their devices. And it’s painful for everyone else to hear their devices. So headphones people. They make them small these days especially for your little screen addicted progeny. 

My favourite thing in the world at the moment are my wireless headphones. I don’t use them on flights for four obvious reasons. BUT at home they are (and I never say this lightly) one of the BEST things I have EVER bought. Not only do they give the (correct) impression to the children that I cannot hear them, but in the evening, when I am desperately trying to get my Nashville/Girls/Charlie Pickering fix and relieve the boredom of the nightly kitchen duties, with my iPad propped up on the caesarstone, no matter how much I walk around the kitchen (to the fridge, to the pantry, to the Tupperware drawer, repeat) I can still hear my show. My choice? Kreafunk


They work and they look great. I’m a sucker for pink and metallics and there are marketing genii all over the place that know it.
4. Food.                                                                         a) Gum / tic-tacs. There’s something about planes that makes me feel like I have morning breath all over again. Working Boy doesn’t deserve a kiss full of that breath. Can also double up as “landing treats” (see below). 

b) Snacks. Lots. The reason I invented “landing treats” was 1. Sore ears. 2. Peace and quiet for the last ten minutes of the flight because not so long ago, devices had to be switched off for landing. 3. I have a no-chocolate, no-lollies rule on the plane (except the last 10 minutes because if the sugar high is gonna hit, we’ll be off the plane by then). I pack loads of “piece-y” snacks though (they take more time to eat) for my kids in lots of individual ziplocks. Popcorn. Pretzels. Animal crackers. Sultanas. Bissli (Israeli snack). If it’s dry, will not make clothing or hands sticky, and there’s no associated sugar rush, then sodium levels be damned, it’s going in the hand luggage. 


Just make sure you pack water too.
5. Happy Baby dummies. They should rebrand and call themselves Happy Mummy dummies. Two of my kids did not have a dummy, two did, so I have no interest in getting involved in a dummy debate. But for the dummy suckers, it’s been Happy Baby all the way. 

One thing I am strict on is that dummies are only for sleeping. They exist in the cot and in the cot alone. Except on aeroplanes. Because I discovered that when George Pig cries on Peppa Pig (it happens quite a lot), TTFKABN likes to treat his fellow passengers to his best George impression. I may not understand a word TTFKABN is saying when he has a dummy in his mouth but there is no question that his volume is dulled.

So, when it comes to flight advice, I could go on for a while, what with wipes, twisting textas (no lids to drop) but top 5 is what I promised so top 5 is what you got.

And as a bonus for reading this far……

Shopping Girl’s Top 1 tip for travelling with no kids
:
1) Invest in some noise cancelling headphones. That way if the Todddler Formerly known as Baby N is on your flight, you will be none the wiser. I know I said before that aeroplanes are noisy, but they are also quiet. In the old days, ie before personal screens, the cabin itself buzzed  with conversation. Now that everyone is quietly dedicated to a screen, the mechanical sounds remain but the cabin is extremely quiet. You will only notice this when you fly with an infant or toddler, as their voice resonates through formerly quiet cabin. Noise cancelling earphones. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

Boys and their toys

September is our birthday month, with one third of our family’s birthdays falling then.
Firstborn and J are turning 11 & 9 next month. Their birthday wishlists are no doubt something like this:
1. iPod 5
2. iTunes card
3. Electric scooter
4. Firstborn : Wheely shoes
J: Giant Lego Star Wars set which has not been released yet.
5. Minecraft for Wii U, also unreleased.
6. Lollies and more lollies.
7. Never having to do homework again.
8. Getting to stay home from school whenever they want.
9. Unlimited screen time.
10. Baby N to not grow any older and less cute.

As I am unlikely to provide 7 – 10, I feel as though they should get 1 or 2 things from their wishlist. If you can’t get what you really REALLY want on your birthday, then there’s not much hope the rest of the year. My problem with their wishlists (which may be of my own creating, but I guarantee you, it’s accurate) is that with the exception of wheely shoes, it’s rather sedentary. And uncreative.

Whilst I don’t think their birthdays are necessarily an educational opportunity, I do feel a compulsion to provide a balance of birthday presents, and not just feed the screen-driven beasts I am rearing.

So I present to you:

“Shopping Girl’s Guide to birthday presents for boys aged 9-11”.

1. iPod Touch. It’s their number one, their Cabbage Patch kid, if you will.

20140819-110656.jpg
The magic of birthdays is kept alive by getting that one thing you really want. And if everyone has a screen then I get what I really want – peace and quiet.

2. On-the-Go Game Pad

20140819-111922.jpg
My boys would love this. Not as much as they would love an iPod, but it still has the potential to keep them busy. If I tell them to go and play noughts and crosses for an hour they will not so much laugh in my face as whinge in it. However give them a notepad like this where the lines are all neatly and graphic-designer-y laid out for you, and “cool!” they will exclaim. Who knew home drawn parallel and perpendicular lines were so lame?

3. Letter light.
Since we moved house a year ago, I have had an obsession with my boys’ rooms. I keep trying to make them
Pinterest ready. Unfortunately the rooms contain the antithesis of Pinterest: live boys. I arrange their toys artistically, instagramatically, upon their shelves…..they play with said toys and if I am LUCKY they put them back….but the shelf now resembles a jumble sale. Baby N does NOT understand that his books are in rainbow colour order. I have decorated their rooms to the best of my financial and artistic ability in the hope that they will love them and treat their possessions respectfully. This is not going entirely to plan. Anyway I love this, and I think firstborn would too.

20140819-113507.jpg

4. Crayola Marker Maker

20140819-114213.jpg

This is not something they will love and keep forever. They will not walk down the aisle with this toy. The marker maker is a summer fling……they’ll think they’re in love for a month or two and then they’ll never look at her again. Intense, passionate. But they’ll alway have the memories. Ah, the memories. My best fling toy was Barbie Charms the World.

20140819-114734.jpg
The kids enjoy being creative, and I enjoy them being creative. According to the experts, the benefits of being creative are endless. Unless it’s creative accounting. Then you might end up in jail.

The other day one of the kids was complaining about being bored. I suggested we make a pet rock. Child looked at me like I had grown two heads and both of them were alien. The marker maker is creativity for the child of 2014 (not 1986 where I seem to be stuck).

5. Hover Soccer

20140819-114953.jpg
I think this looks like fun. Like turning your back courtyard into a life sized air hockey table. Token “outdoor”, “exercise” present. This is more about me than them.

6. Board Games.
J wants “The Game of Life”. Firstborn played “Settlers of Catan” at a friend’s house and was very enthusiastic. I saw this at Questacon :

20140819-115706.jpg

I think it looks great, and sneakily educational. The batteries are a pain though. I am all for board games as long as the kids understand they are to play with each other, not with me. My sister never wanted to play Monopoly with me when we were kids. I used to play by myself. I was the thimble AND I was the dog. The thimble always won. Unfortunately for my kids, playing solo monopoly is thus a viable option. I think it builds resilience. Because when you play Monopoly by yourself, you’re always the winner, but unfortunately you’re always a loser, too.

7. Snap circuits

20140819-121022.jpg

First born likes taking electronic things apart to see all the wires and circuit boards. Unfortunately he cannot put them back together. Perhaps this will teach him. Last year we did chemistry sets. Too much parental supervision required. Snap Circuits are this year’s token science present.

8. The 52 Story Treehouse
It’s the next in the series and it comes out in J’s birthday month. Although he has probably slightly outgrown this series now, J’s bound to get excited that the latest is being released. My kids have this strange compulsion to continually want to read new books. When we were kids, my parents bought us new books from time to time. The rest of the time we RE-READ the books we already had. This is a foreign concept to my children, but one which they must learn. Then they can play one of the best games my sister and I ever invented. The quote game. One of you recites a quote from a book, the other has to say what book it’s from. But you need to be really, REALLY familiar with your home library to do this. So I’ll buy J the new book but really I think he should re-read the first 3 books a few more times, or how else will he ever know the proper response to “She salted her egg, then bit into it”?

XOXO Shopping Girl