Oh man, I don’t know about you but this forced iso is hard when you have children. Yes, it is necessary to fight this virus by staying at home, but it is still hard. I have heard from countless Mums recently, all sharing about moments when they have desperately hide from their family members. I am one of them, because sometimes it’s one question too many. Sometimes it’s one screaming, annoying, angry, defiant, bored, emotional, messy, face too many. Sometimes you have given everything you had to give and you still have to keep giving.
So Honey, hide from your family when you must. You cry if you want. Give the finger to your cat (a personal favourite of mine) if that helps release the tension. This is hard, it’s not just you. That shame or Mum-guilt you are carrying doesn’t belong there; many of us are feeling bat-crap-crazy at the moment. You do not have to be perfect in this moment. You can’t meet all their needs. You are not letting them down. I guarantee, if you are even worried about your kids in this moment, you are loving your kids as best as you can.
My girlfriends and I have been more connected recently because we need to hear the “Oh me too, today was horrible” or the “You did so well” or a “I’m so happy you had a great day today”. We send each other funny memes or encouraging posts, because this is hard. It’s not a competition over who has it worse… it’s hard for us all in our own ways. Sweetheart, now is not a time for comparision. We are processing everything that’s going on, as well as other stresses like joblessness, cancelled plans, feelings of unrest and so on whilst raising children. It is incredibly hard some days. But hey… We are doing the best we can. Let’s give ourselves a break.
You are not alone – this is actually hard. I hope by hearing that you feel less alone, less like a failure and that tonight after the kids have gone to bed you can realise how hard you have been working. Well done Babe, you are amazing.
Love Jess xxoo
PS – Yes there are also many Dads who are in the same boat, but this one is for Mums because I am one 😉
Most nights when putting our kids to bed we ask them four questions. These four questions do two things, firstly, they allow us to get a window into our kids day and secondly, it gives us an opportunity to help our littles process the things they have experienced. So, as it’s the season for long lunches and evening glasses of wine, why don’t you take some time out as you reflect on the year that’s been and ask others or yourself these four questions:
What made you smile? What made you sad? What did you learn about? What are you thankful for?
Tim and I have put our answers below.
What made you smile?
Jess: New and deeper connections with people. This current season with my family and friends has been a great one, particularly seeing my family complete with the birth of our son. I have loved building new friendships and getting to know others on a deeper level.
Tim: Work Opportunities. There were many days at work this year when I would pinch myself. How did I get here? Did I do that? How amazing is God?! 18 months ago I was seconded into my organisations Project Team and things just clicked for me. It’s been a rollercoaster of amazing opportunities and challenges met and I found myself energised by this environment and the amazing people in it. At my recent work Christmas party I was presented with an individual award that recognised my achievement to help our organisation be ‘Future Ready’ (one of our five strategic goals). Yet again, I had to pinch myself.
What made you sad?
Jess: Family illness. There have been some rather significant hospital stays and health investigations this year. Some health questions have had answers, while others are still ongoing.
Tim: A lack of Wholeness for our families. In many facets of life we don’t see the wholeness that God intended; mental, physical, spiritual, financial, social. But this is something we believe and work towards.
What did you learn about?
Jess: Parenting. This year was a huge learning curve when it came to parenting. I have never felt more stretched while navigating how to parent a rather strong-willed, physically aggressive little one. My three-year-old has pushed me to learn more about child-brain development, the impacts of food on behaviour, when to hold my ground and so much more. There have been many messages sent to my ‘squad’ in frustration, many prayers uttered and moments of being far too overstimulated. It has been difficult, but I have learned a lot and continue to learn a lot.
Tim: Human services and community development. For a number of years my heart would always sway towards working and serving within community settings. Through my work (Disability and Aged Care) and other community networks I have been exposed to philosophies, frameworks and practices in Human Services and Community Development. Australia is a blessed country in these regards with a government and social services that fight for justice and equity in our communities. Recently I was offered a new job in a Community Development role and needless to say, I am thrilled to continue to learn and serve my local community.
What are you thankful for?
Jess: The little things. A message from a friend. My morning coffee made by my husband. A good book. Discovering a new yummy recipe. Henry Ward Beecher says, “The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things” and I think he was definitely onto something.
Tim: Kai! There’s not much more to say here really. When he came into this world, I cried with joy. Everyday since then, I have been totally smitten with this little guy. #whatakai
Have a wonderful time this Christmas season. Happy reflections.
I have been thinking a lot about you the last few weeks. You are on my mind and I can’t shake you no matter how much I try. Some of you I know personally, while others I wouldn’t know you if you were sitting next to me right now. Regardless, I wanted to take a few moments and type these words to you, because what you are going through is painful, so incredibly painful and usually hidden.
Psalm 56 v 8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
If I could sit and have a beverage with you, I would look you in the eye and tell you that you aren’t alone. I know it feels like it, believe me, I know it does. It may seem like others around you are falling pregnant with not a care in the world and you feel you’re the only one’s struggling… but you aren’t. For some reason, knowing that other Christians are going through or have gone through a similar struggle can make you feel less isolated. I say this not to take away from your unique experience, but to encourage you and remind you that your thoughts, questions, doubts, victories and triumphs are perhaps similar to what others have felt.
Psalm 31 v 7 I am overcome with joy because of Your unfailing love, for You have seen my troubles, and You care about the anguish of my soul.
Although some of your closest friends may not see your pain… I see you in my mind’s eye. I acknowledge this difficult season with its’ faith filled highs and the hopeless lows. I understand the courage you draw upon when you celebrate other people’s victories and the anguish in your heart when you see that photo on social media or glossy picture in a catalog. I can relate to the faith in your heart when you respond to an alter-call and the frustration when someone says something insensitive. Sometimes you have grace and things don’t bother you, while other times you want to put your fingers in your ears to block out the noise. It is difficult. Plus, those ever-changing thoughts and emotions can really throw you can’t they? Up and down and round and round. Then, there are the faith-based questions, medical decisions and ethical considerations that can keep you up at night! You are really doing so well. No, really you are. Be encouraged.
Psalm 9 v 9-10 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you.
I am aware that your stories are all different and so will the outcome. I sincerely pray that your dearest dreams will be realized, and yet I know how hard it is to believe that at times. I don’t pretend to have answers for your situation; I only want to let you know that you aren’t forgotten. You aren’t abandoned and your journey is important, so important that God keeps bringing you to my mind. Even if you don’t tell anyone about this season, I am praying for you and for the child or children you want to have.
I sat on the floor in the kitchen in front of a clean dishwasher that needed to be emptied. After angrily telling Tim to “leave me alone”, tears ran down my face and all I wanted to do was pick up all those clean dishes and smash them on the floor. I felt like I had fallen into a dark pit, alone with no way to get out. I rang my sister. When she picked up I sobbed and sobbed into the phone and told her what was going on in my mind.
Before (when I was pregnant)
Amy was my miracle, my long-awaited baby! God was on this and He was with us, it was going to be amazing! I prayed that He would prepare my heart and that I would be a perfect example of His love to my kids. That I would represent Him well and be the physical manifestation of His heart towards my kids. I ‘rejected in Jesus name’ any of the negative stories that I heard about parenthood, because I was doing this with Jesus. Holy Spirit and I…. man we were tight. I knew how to hear His voice so well and I certainly had His joy living inside of me. I felt I had been through enough personal ‘fires’ to be prepared. I had been through a lot, including seasons of loneliness, anxiety (with heart palpitations) and the pain of a miscarriage; I had the tools to get through the tough stuff.
Worship has such a central part of my journey when we were trying to fall pregnant. I would worship God when I was in pain and instantly be lifted up and filled with joy and freedom. I (naively) dreamt that Amy and I would worship for hours and hours together. That the atmosphere in our house would be as it always was, a place of peace and rest, where the presence of God would be so tangible.
Additionally, I was so conscious of the negative impact that parents can have on their kids. Little people’s personalities are developed by the time they are four, so what I did in those early years really mattered. I didn’t want my kids to have to ‘forgive my mother for (insert reason here)’ in a therapy or sozo session years later.
During the first year
During Amy’s first year of life she cried – A. LOT. – and so did I. I clearly remember one Sunday afternoon she cried for 5 hours straight. I did everything and I really do mean everything: Feeding, burping, cuddling, pumping her little legs, leaving her to cry it out (it got worse and worse), every holding position I knew, bathing her, giving her Panadol, walking up and down the house, changing the nappy, praying in tongues, praying with words, singing worship etc. Nothing helped and some of it made it even worse. I had nothing left to give… absolutely nothing. I put her back into her cot, shut all the doors and with tears slowing rolling down my face, I sent out an SMS to a few people and asked them to pray. Amy fell asleep 20 minutes later and I sobbed on the bed. People may say “Amen, yeah she did, those prayers worked.” All I felt was my failure. I had tried everything and I was carrying the Holy Spirit with me. His love never failed, but apparently mine did.
Church life, which has one been a place of pure joy and freedom, become an isolating experience. Tim was on staff, so we rarely got to be with him during a service and he was unable to help me. I would drive to church and spend most the time in the nursing mothers room or unsupervised crèche. After the service one of my beautiful friends would usually seek me out for a quick hello, but by then Amy was in the ‘feral zone’ so I would dash off not having heard the message, been able to engage in worship or connect with my church community. I would then drive the 30 minutes home with a tired child screaming at the top of her lungs. We would arrive back home both in a mess of tears and totally exhausted.
I started to become angry and I wasn’t a naturally angry person. I thought things and said things in my head that I never thought would enter my life. I would hear people say how well I was doing or looking etc. and all I could think was “You don’t know the half of it.” I was also constantly told (by people who no longer had young kids) to “Treasure every moment, because it goes so fast.” So, I started stressing about ‘treasuring every moment’ and tried to put my energy into that. Turns out that ‘treasuring EVERY moment’ is hard to do when your little one cries a lot and you are running on empty.
Looking back, I clearly didn’t ask for help as much as I should have, mostly because I believed the lie that I shouldn’t. I prayed for this, I asked for this, this was my new ministry and my responsibility. I also didn’t think people would understand why I was in so much pain and I didn’t know how to articulate what was I was going through. I had also heard it said (unfortunately many times) that when Christians ‘burn out’ it’s because they aren’t getting their strength from God; that it is somehow a reflection of their relationship with Him. They are a failure. The thing was, I wasactually inviting Holy Spirit into everyday, I would say it when I woke up and asked Him to help me constantly. I was trying to get my strength from Him, but I wasn’t able to spend time with Him like I used to. Plus, any time I planned a worship session at home, Amy would go ballistic and cry the place down. I was trying so hard to not become self-centered and continued to pour into other people’s lives like I used to. I spent a lot of time praying for and ‘counselling’ other people through their own pains. I wasn’t working after all so ‘I had the time’. I was giving out in excess, while feeling as though I was letting everyone down.
Just to add to the growing burdens that I was carrying, I knew there were many other people in the world who had it worse than me, which of course made me feel worse about feeling worse. I ‘should be able to do this’ and I ‘really didn’t have anything to complain about’. It was a downward spiral. I didn’t understand that I was burning through my serotonin levels faster than a mentally healthy person. All I knew was that I was somehow ‘failing’. Failing Amy, failing God, failing at this thing called Motherhood. What made it harder was the fact that I had prayed and dreamed about this season for over 3 years. Amy was a miracle, she was a precious gift, but all I wanted to do was be alone so I could cry without her seeing.
I asked God to help me. I asked Him to remove my heaviness, my sadness and my anger and yet… it remained. I meditated on scriptures, stuck them all around the house and yet it remained. I made declarations and proclamations and yet it remained.
The phone call
So, just before Amy’s 1st birthday, I sat on the kitchen floor talking to the safest person I knew – my sister. She listened and loved me so much. Looking back, she represented Jesus to me in that moment; a perfect example of God.
She met me where I was at and listened to the state of my heart. She loved me completely. She told me to go onto the BeyondBlue website and take their online questionnaire. We chatted for a bit and then she said she’d check back in with me every day for the next few days.
I did the questionnaire and it told me to see my GP ASAP because I was in the danger zone. Two days later, after being told I had post-natal depression, I started my healing process with the help of medication. They say it takes about 2-3 weeks before antidepressants work, but I honestly noticed a difference straight away. For the first time in about a year, I could think clearly.
And so my next journey began. Three years on I have come a long way in some areas, while others require a bit more attention. Honestly, sometimes I don’t feel completely victorious in these things but I chose to believe that I am a great Mother. With the help of Holy Spirit and others around me, I am gradually taking back the ground and replacing the lies and unrealistic expectations with truth and rest. I look back and I’m grateful for how far I’ve come.
My family and I were recently talking about whether or not God heals people with serious mental health disorders. The Flatt clan likes to talk about the deeper issues of life, like really talk them out and challenge each other… I seriously love it. This is where I land in any area of healing… Jesus is the standard. What I mean by that is when you look at the life of Jesus he healed EVERYONE that came to him. EVERYONE! So, regardless of my experience, it’s God’s heart and intention that everyone is healed and whole. If I pray for someone and they aren’t healed, I believe God still wants them to be healed. Really Jess? Seriously, read the Gospels, there is not one example where Jesus wasn’t willing or where he said ‘No, healing it not for you. I’m not doing it. It’s not my will for you to be healed.” So where does this leave us?
This leads me once again to the Goodness of God. He is so wonderful, so loving and so aware of our individual journeys that He meets us where we are. I prayed that God would remove my depression, but for whatever reason it didn’t lift. And so, He made a way for me. Does God want to heal depression? Absolutely. Did He miraculously heal mine? No. Wait a minute, does that mean He doesn’t heal depression? No. For me, my experience does not alter the person of God or His good intentions for His children. Jesus is my standard. Where there is a gap, He meets me where I am and continues to help me along my journey to healing.
If my leg was broken and after being prayed for it was still broken, I wouldn’t pretend it was healed just to prove my faith was strong enough. I would go to a doctor and get that leg fixed. Why struggle through the pain and possibly cause more damage and increase the healing time? I view mental health issues/illnesses in the same light. I will pray and believe for healing in the mental health zone, but if it’s not healed, I’m not going to pretend it is. I will take myself to a doctor and recommend others do the same. There is no point carrying guilt and shame, because you haven’t been miraculously healed. Would you judge someone else for taking a clearly broken leg to a doctor? I seriously hope not 🙂
My own journey
I am not ashamed to share this with you, but I do feel slightly vulnerable. To share my own journey and own perspective is a scary thing to do at times, but we each have our own story and there is power when we share them with each other. I can learn something from you and maybe you can learn something from me.
I hope you are encouraged by my journey out of the pit, because if you’ve never been there, believe me, it really does feel like a pit. If you are in that pit yourself, you are not alone. Many more people have been there than you realise, in fact 1 in 5 Australian adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year. There is hope for us, for you and for me. God has made a way.
In early 2010 I lay on the gurney alone in the halls of the hospital. I remember being left by myself as tears streamed down my face along with the crushing revelation that the baby we had hoped for was no more. They had not allowed Tim to come with me for the scan and I felt so sick that He didn’t know and I would have to tell him. I felt completely and utterly alone.
Amy has had two seizures in two and a-half-weeks. It has happened to her before when we were overseas, so it wasn’t so shocking for us this time round, but it’s still not very nice. A virus enters her little system and her temperature can spike up to over 41C (106F) . If you’ve never seen someone have a seizure it is can be frightening and when it’s someone little it’s even worse to witness. We know in Amy’s situation that it is ok and it’s not uncommon for kids to have febrile convulsions.
The problem is, that as parents you can tend to worry more after the event has taken place. Visions of Amy’s body convulsing can haunt you when you least expect it. Unhealthy imaginings of when it will happen next and what will transpire do not help you sleep in the wee hours of the morning.
In recent years when Tim and I have faced difficult situations and not had peace, we will undoubtedly ask Holy Spirit to show us where He was when the event was taking place. For example, I asked Holy Spirit where He was when Amy was having her seizure. He showed me that as I had my hand on her forehead, He had His hand on my shoulder and at the same time, He was holding Amy.
Peace like a river. Fear, time to move along.
Years later, in a moment of beautiful Worship with Daddy God, Tim had a picture of me laying alone in hospital and he saw the word ‘abandonment’ written over my head. He felt God wanted to show me where He was when I was facing my darkest moment.
I want to encourage you, if you have been through a negative or traumatic life event, it’s important to ask Holy Spirit to show you where He was. If you see anything other than a loving, caring response, you need to go read about the life of Jesus. He was moved by compassion for people in all sorts of situations and He is a direct representation to us of what Father God is like. Asking God to answer this question can really start the healing process if you’re carrying trauma.
As soon as Tim explained what He saw, I knew what He was talking about. I knew that God was good, but somehow the feeling that I was alone had snuck in to my thought-life, so I asked Holy Spirit to show me where He was. And being so wonderful, He showed me. He was holding me so very close, arms wrapped around me, understanding all my pain and loving me so completely. The secret fears that I held started to fade and another level of healing started taking place.
Sometimes, it’s only when we ask this question do we realise He was there all along. Don’t wait years to ask it, don’t let the little moments go by without questioning those fears. Say it with me… God, where were you? Can you hear Him answer… I was right there.
The last few days have been filled with some hilarious and horrendous moments. I thought I’d share some of the funnier ones and yes, some things are funnier once everyone is in bed and finally asleep.
Saturday 27th June
During a rather one-sided conversation about a certain little girl going for a ride on a unicorn, I realised that I hadn’t actually explained to Amy that those fabled creatures aren’t real. She was pretty devastated for about a minute and then went on to talk about pink and purple horses. One thing at a time.
Monday 29th June
Today I was Amy free, which was a blessing, but also made me miss her. After picking her up, we drove home:
A: Mum, do you have a lollipop?
J: No I don’t
A: No, you do
J: No Amy, I really don’t
A: Noooooo, you do
J: I can promise you Amy, I don’t have a lollipop
A: You do (getting seriously annoyed)
J: I don’t (getting seriously annoyed back)
A: Mum, do you have a pizza?
J thinking: I’m just going to pretend she’s not there.
Wednesday 1st July
Number 1. This morning while hanging out in Bella’s room, Amy was looking at the painting Tim did for Bella:
A: Daddy’s going to paint one for Shadow (our cat) with red and pink and yellow, like horses running and a unicorns with a black tail.
J thinking: Sounds awful, but fifty years from now it could be worth a fortune
Number 2. After struggling for an hour and a half to get Bella to go to and actually stay asleep, Amy came to tell me the good news:
A: Bella’s asleep
J: Oh YAY!
A: You did it Mum!
J thinking: I can’t feel my arms! How will I drink coffee?
Number 3. Just before bath time:
A: I’m pretty tired Mummy. I have eyes in my soap.
J thinking: I know the feeling
The last few days have been tough, the kind of tough that makes you want to go for a long, long drive to nowhere in particular with just you and your favourite music. This afternoon, as I sat feeding Bella for the forth time in so many hours, I thought about the pains and struggles in my own life and the lives of others around me. I know this is part of the adventure, it is all part of our story, but man it’s exhausting.
As I sit here, I look forward to tomorrow. What hilarious thing will Amy say? Which little smile will Bella give me? Who will Whatsapp me telling me that they are feeling better? Tomorrow fills me with hope. So, if you’re having a tough one, don’t worry, you are not alone. You made it through today and I am so proud of you! Chin-up, we can do this.
I have about six-weeks of my pregnancy to go which means I am uncomfortable, sleep badly and still have moments when I think I’m going to vomit everywhere. However life goes on and things still need to be done. This morning I had to take Shadow to the vet for a booster needle…
As I held Amy’s hand, carried the cat box and had my bag over my shoulder, the bottom of the box gave way and Shadow fell out. Luckily we were just at the door of the vet surgery. I shook off Amy’s hand, grabbed the cat and pulled the door open. As I threw the box inside, held the door open with my foot and tried to pass the cat to someone, Amy got hit in the head as she tried to fit through the little gap. So now I had a cat in one arm and a crying Amy half stuck outside, screaming and holding her head. Help did arrive, but honestly the whole thing was slightly hilarious. Plus, with being 34 weeks pregnant it must have been funny and petrifying for the others in the waiting room to watch as everything went wrong.
The vet visit itself wasn’t much better, but we survived.
After I embarrassingly accepted help getting to the car, Amy started yelling that she was hungry, which was when I may or may not have lost the plot and told her off. My previous idea of getting a coffee on the way home went out the window as I now had wicked reflux and no energy left to face anything else.
Half way home Amy started crying because she put her fingers into the cat box and I’m assuming Shadow gave her a nip. The cat then went crazy scratching and carrying on and Amy started laughing as the cat made a jail break and got out of the box. There was nothing I could do but keep driving. After successfully navigating another around-a-bout, I felt something furry on my leg and realise the cat had made his way under my seat and was now setting up shop in front of the break pedal. At this point I was beyond caring if we lived or died, but we ended up back at home without any more drama.
Unfortunately I told Amy we could do some painting today and we’d go buy some ‘kid friendly’ paint (if there is really such a thing) after we dropped Shadow home. However, I knew I needed a moment to gather whatever energy and happy thoughts I had left. As I sat on the couch relaying these events to my family, Amy started doing my make-up/painting my face with a paintbrush and I decide I may never move again. If I could drink, a small glass of wine would have been perfect right then. Instead I found an old and slightly malformed Freddo Frog in the fridge… that did it.
The truth is that sometimes ‘adventures’ are not so glamorous and involve dropping your cat and yelling at your daughter, but it does make a good story.
A lot of parents and hopeful parents ask how Amy went on our travels, because man, did we do a lot of travel. I thought I’d follow-up on a post I did back in February and share some thoughts and encouragements.
Trip Disclaimer: let’s be clear, our trip wasn’t a two-week holiday. It lasted seven months, crossed five countries and included many, many flights and lots of accommodation changes. We certainly learned a lot early on, although we are far from experts. Hopefully someone finds this useful.
1. You can do it too. Don’t let anyone tell you that there is no travel after kids. Admittedly, we were only travelling with one so the adults were in the majority, but if anyone asks me, I say DO IT! 2. You need to change your expectations. When Tim and I travelled to the US the first time, we arrived in New York after 31 hours of travel, dumped our bags and walked back out the door at 1am. Haha, oh that makes me laugh now that we have Amy. The reality is that with a two-year old who has day-time sleeps, you just can’t do as much. You have to think about your days a lot more and allow for down time. Yes, you will see amazing things, but instead of seeing that war museum or Broadway show, you’re more likely to go to the zoo or play in a park. 3. Children open and close doors. This relates to number two, but in a slightly different way. Obviously, travelling with a little one means that there are restaurants you can’t go to and tourist attractions you won’t see. However, travelling with Amy gave us amazing opportunities to connect with people we never would have. Because of her blonde hair and blue eyes, I don’t remember a day when we didn’t have a stranger come up to say hi or take a photo. We did have complete strangers touch her all the time and on a few occasions pick her up. Sometimes I was ok with it and sometimes I really wasn’t, as was Amy. Follow your instincts and don’t feel bad about being that paranoid westerner. Honestly though, having children allows you to connect with a culture on a different level. For us, people were so helpful and Amy received countless gifts we couldn’t fit into our suitcases. 4. Prepare well. Always have snack food. Always have some little toys. Always have stickers. Always have crayons. Take an iPad mini. However, being prepared also means being flexible. Be prepared to change your plans as you figure out the limitations of your family and your kids. If you don’t know what these are already, don’t worry, you’ll quickly learn. Preparing for overseas travel also involves purchasing travel insurance. While in Thailand (the first time) Amy had two febrile convulsions and spent a night in hospital with Influenza A. Our travel insurance provider (Travel Insurance Direct) was wonderful and we didn’t have any major stresses. Don’t skimp on this one. I actually read the full terms and conditions (around 80 pages!) of three insurance providers before we made our choice. Most of the top providers have similar cover, so it really is much of a muchness. In hindsight I wish I had paid for no hospital excess, because we were there for four separate admissions, but hey what can you do.
Lastly, make sure you have the proper travelling equipment (see here for some tips). The only change I would have made was to get a portacot with a zip top. While in one Brazilian city we had to cover ourselves in mosquito repellant all the time, I’m not kidding… every second of every day. Unfortunately Amy often woke up in the morning looking like she had chicken pox on her face. Poor sweetheart.
5. You’ll both need a break at times. It can feel risky travelling overseas with kids. We’ve all heard the horror stories of children going missing or being taken on holidays. With this in mind, you are constantly on guard and always in physical contact with your little one. As wonderful as this time is together, if you’re travelling for a while like us, sometimes you just need alone time. Tim went and saw a few movies by himself at night and I think I managed to get one or two massages. It’s not much, but taking the small opportunities when you can help greatly in the long run. 6. Don’t stay anywhere for less than two nights. For us, we tried no less than three. It’s just not worth it and you won’t get to see much. Very early in our trip we left San Francisco and drove down to Santa Cruz to spend one night there. By the time we arrived and went for a little walk, it was time for Amy’s bed, which meant we were accommodation bound. The next morning we packed up all our things and had to move on. We didn’t really get to experience Santa Cruz at all. After this experience we would allow about half a day to pack for each transition. 7. Other tips.
Take hard copy photos of those nearest and dearest to you. Try going through the photos at least once a week. It will help your little one remember faces and names.
Get/buy Whatsapp or a similar data messaging app. It’s an easy way to stay connected with family and friends back home as wi-fi is often available in most accommodations and cafes.
For long flights, sit at the back of the plane. If your little one goes crazy, at least you don’t have to walk through a plane full of people and wake them up.
Before a transition make sure you have a supply of essentials; nappies, wipes and snacks. You never know what you’ll have access to when you first arrive.
Once again, always have stickers! 🙂
8. You can do it. Seriously, we are not the first parents to drag our almost two-year-old half-way around the world and we won’t be the last. The time we spent together was priceless and something we will never forget, so we say go for it! Get out there and explore the world with your toddler. If you’re sensitive to them and know how they’re coping you’ll be fine. You can do it and you should. Love Jess xxoo
In the first few days of 2010 I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. I never knew that tiny little life, but I loved that baby every day while he/she was alive. I loved my child, prayed everyday over that precious soul and made plans for our future. Please know that I don’t mourn this little one anymore. However, although I don’t carry the pain of all that happened, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss that little bubba whenever I think of them 🙂
Today, that baby would have been four… so I send this happy birthday message up to heaven.
I love you darling one. Happy 4th Birthday! I still think about you and all the things we didn’t get to do together. But it’s ok sweet-heart, you’re with Jesus and I know that you’ll be having so much fun with Him. Do you laugh together all the time? I think you do. Part of me is jealous really, you beat me to Him!
Please say hi to Timothy, August, Rebecca Faith, Israel and the other babes who have no names on earth. Tell them that we love them too, we miss you all, we will not forget you. We don’t know why you’re not here, but we know that God is good… all the time. Give Jesus a big kiss for me! I’ll see you all real soon.
“What about Amy?” many people ask me. I understand their curiosity and concern about taking a not-yet two-year-old half way around the world and back.
You know what it’s like when you see a child under 3 (or honestly, anyone under 10) standing with their guardian at the terminal waiting to board your flight. Whether or not you believe in God, most people will pray a few desperate words which usually end with “… please, oh please, not in my section.” I know I’ve said a few of those prayers myself over the years. Being stuck in a large metal cylinder with someone else’s child for 12 hours can be terrifying.
I’m about to join that very… shall I say ‘courageous’ group of parents who endure the interesting hurdles and hazards of taking their wee ones overseas with them. Needless to say I’ve read a lot of blogs looking for tips about travelling and flying with toddlers. They all say one thing, expect the worst and prepare for the worst. Great.
So, why would we do a trip (especially one like this) with a toddler? A few reasons really, 1. because it’s the right time in our lives and 2. we believe that having Amy on this crazy adventure will make it all the more fun. Honestly, life is just more fun with Amy. More tiring? Yes. Messier? Definitely. Truthfully, sometimes I do go a little mental, but life is still richer and better with Amy in it. I could never imagine doing this adventure without her. It would be easier if it was just Tim and me, but not nearly as much fun.
Taking a little person overseas also means taking little people things and catering for little people needs with a few Government regulations on the side. I thought I’d make a detailed list of things we’re taking. Who knows, maybe this will help someone else like me.
A few trip details: In case you’ve just stumbled across this blog, here are the basic trip details.
We’ve heading off overseas at the end of March 2014 for about 16 months. > 1 month in the USA (3 states, two internal flights). This will include a road trip, a few mountainous hikes and goodness knows what else > 3 months in Brazil (3 cities, 3 internal flights). We’ll be having a two-week holiday plus doing about 9-ish weeks of volunteer/missions work in three different locations > 3 nights in Istanbul. We’ll be staying close to the main sights, so we’ll do a lot of walking > 1 year in Thailand (mainly 1 city, but we expect a few internal flights). We’ll be renting somewhere, so once we reach Thailand we won’t be travelling around as much.
We estimate there’ll be a minimum of 12 flights by the time we return to Australia.
I won’t go into all the tricks you can use (other mamma’s have hilarious and informative blogs about those), I’ll just say what we’re putting in Amy’s carry on bag:
IPad mini – filled not only with games and TV shows, but also videos of family, us and any animal we come across
Child ear plugs
Toys – Light plastic figurines (with no small parts), her favourite stuffed teddy and turtles, colouring books, pencil case and stickers
Food – As Amy is under 2, she won’t get fed by the airline, so we’ll have to do that
A spare change of clothes
A realisation that there’s not much I can do once we’re up there. I just need to take it easy on myself (and Amy). We’ll eventually get to each destination
Handbag: After realising that the $10 hand bag I had been using for the last 6 months or so was about to die, I knew I would have to get a new one. Here’s the thing… I don’t actually technically have my own handbag anymore; I’m a mum, so I have a mum bag now. With this in mind, I knew that I’d have to have a multi-purpose, secure and easy to wear bag, suitable for a variety of locations and situations. I’ve ended up buying an anti-theft cross body travel bag made by Travelon (off eBay). I wanted a cross body bag, because without a proper pram, I know I’ll be wearing it a bit. Sure I could probably get something smaller, but not only is it a mum bag, it’s also an all-day tourist/volunteer bag. That means water bottles and passports, maybe the iPad mini or camera, food and toy etc. This bag… has got to be a goodin’.
I’ve been using this bag for a little while and I’m a happy buyer. There are only two things I’d say. The first is that it’s not as large as the video makes it out to be. The second is that there aren’t any ‘secret women’s pockets’. You know the kind inside the bag that you put your Panadol and other miscellaneous things in. There is one, but it’s see through. No secret about what’s in there.
I’ll keep you updated on how this bag goes during the actual trip. If it’s crap, I will absolutely let you know!
Portacot: Tim did the research on this one. He read a lot of reviews, thought a lot about the weight etc. and finally decided on the Phil and Teds Traveller portacot. We also got it on sale which never hurts.We’ll pack this into our checked baggage when flying.
Kid Carry pack: We’re doing some hiking and a bit of touristy walking in ares where a stroller is just not practical. After reading countless reviews, I found a great Phil and Ted carrier on eBay for a bargain. Once again, this will be packed into our checked baggage.
Luggage: Thinking about flights, until Amy turns two, she won’t have her own seat, hence no luggage allowance. This means we will pay the extra for her little bag and that’s ok, we’ve incorporated that into our budgeting.
Stroller: After one false start we have bought a Babylove Maxima stroller on sale. It’s light weight (which we need for our flights) and not too expensive. That way if something happens to it, it’s ok. We’ll take this as a carry-on when flying, so it has to be an umbrella stroller.
Car seat: This one is the trickiest. We’re hiring a car seat while in California and probably when we head to the East Coast. In Brazil we have no idea, but we may have to buy one for the 3 months. In Turkey, we’ll just walk and in Thailand… we’ll see. It’s very much a make it up as we go kind of thing.
One more thing – Potty training: Ek! I was chatting with my mum about this recently. I saw this Baby U Potette Plus at My Baby Warehouse and thought it would be a great idea, however once I got it open, I was disappointment with the quality. So, I’m not sure what we’ll do for potty training. I’ve just decided not to stress out about it too much. There is no official completion or award for how soon you learn to use a toilet, so we’ll probably wait until Thailand and see how we go. With Amy experiencing so much change, why would I put more pressure on her and myself? I wouldn’t 🙂
So folks, that’s some of the stuff we have organised for our little one. I hope it’s useful for some, eye-opening for others and amusing for those who have been before and know what’s in store.