Thursday, 6 November 2008

The problem with having a far flung family

Here's some background. My father, stepmother and two half brothers live in South Africa. One of my sisters lives in Ireland, the other lives in New Zealand along with my mother and stepfather. I live in the UK. Let's just say that we don't often have family get togethers. Asking my children's grandparents to babysit isn't an option. And I always need to look at the last posting days for Christmas cards well in advance as it's some point in October.

In an attempt to let my children see their grandmother and auntie for about the second time in their lives, I have been looking into going to New Zealand, a place I've yet to visit despite the fact that my sister has lived there long enough to sound like a local. There have always been good reasons why I haven't yet gone.

First I was young and poor and starting to climb the career ladder. Then I moved to the USA. Then I got married so my finances were stretched for some time. Then we moved to the UK and started a new job/found new house etc. Then I got pregnant. Had baby 1. Ten months later I was pregnant again. I had two under twos. I had little sleep and even less sanity and there was no way I would have survived a 30 hour flight with them. Then we moved house again. Then we were flooded. And now here we are.

Now I have a 4.5 year old who will be 5 by the time I plan on going. And a 3 year old. Both with the inability to sit still for a nano second (unless they're poorly in which case they just vomit on people). The thought of the 30 hour flight still makes me want to grab a large meat skewer and plunge it into my wrists. The adjustment of the billion time zone differences with two boys who don't sleep at the best of times makes me exhausted just thinking about it. And even if we have the best, most relaxing holiday in the whole world ever (which it probably won't be as there won't be hot and cold running slaves waving palm fronds over me while someone entertains my children), any feelings of calm will evaporate the minute we board for the return flight home.

But ignoring all of that. Assuming that I want to put myself through a catastrophic amount of stress, the bottom line is that the cost of four airline tickets to New Zealand could buy you a nice small car. And that's flying or Quantas which seems to have planes falling out of the sky on a daily basis. The flight prices themselves look reasonable. It's the sodding taxes. They're the same price as the flights. All well and good for protecting the environment blah blah but what's the point of having a nice environment if you can never get there to see it??

My computer screen image is burned onto my retinas such is the amount time I've spent surfing travel websites, flicking between airlines, resorts, tour operators and tripadvisor, with the latter normally sending me back to stage 1. I give up. I despair. I don't know how we will ever get to New Zealand unless someone invents one of those Star Trek 'beam me up' machines or some very strong tugboats tow New Zealand and the UK closer to each other. I wouldn't mind if they towed the UK further South. In fact they could tow it somewhere between Mauritius and the Seychelles. They could pull NZ to just below the Maldives. Everyone would be happy.

I'll take your suggestions on a post it note as to how to resolve this dilemma. Just so you know, I've already ticked off:
- let them come to us. Done
- win the lottery. Tried and failed
- meet halfway. A possibility but still doesn't get around me not ever having been there.
- stuff the children into suitcases to save on ticket costs and on-board stress. Tempting, but I think the NSPCC might have something to say about it.


katyboo1 said...

take several months off and hop there bit by bit thus avoiding long flights and jet lag in one fell swoop.

Either that or go on a cruise, but I feel that you may well kill everyone in under a week if you, like me, loathe bingo, buffets under hot lamps, pensioners and compulsory ball room dancing.

Welsh Girl said...

You are missing one rather fine option - go without the boys! Leave them in their fathers tender cares whilst you go on your own. Just think - 30 hours uninterrupted sleep on the plane!!!!

Home Office Mum said...

Katyboo - would love to take ages to get there but there's the small issue of children having to go to school and us having to work. It sort of requires us to win the lottery. Sadly. Cruise. It would be a helluva long cruise and not sure my heart could deal with that many bingo games.

Welsh girl, as appealing as that sounds, the point is that my family want to see my children (more than me) - why I don't know. Once they've spent 5 minutes with them they'll change their minds.

Anonymous said...

Valium & red wine in equal measures!

Welsh Girl said...

aAAH. Ok, send children on seperate plane with stewardesses to watch them. That would work wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...