I did it. And I survived. If you can’t hear the surprise in my words, well I’ll tell you – it’s there.
When some super cheap tickets popped up at the end of last year for some spring travel, we snatched them up. An extra opportunity to see my parents: priceless. But it meant I’d have to fly with an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old by myself. And that my friends, just sounded scary.
My fear was compounded when we traveled the route for Christmas as a family of four and I felt exhausted by the last leg… with my husband’s help.
I tried to prepare myself as much as possible for this trip and I genuinely believe it helped make the trip more successful. So, I thought I’d share a few tips to help others with their travel aspirations [though I have to say I share from experience, rather than expertise].
Prepare: Of course there are tons of things you’re going to have to do to get ready: adult stuff. But think about what you can do to prepare the kids. Get some books from the library about flying or your destination and add them into the mix. Talk about the flight and how long it is [in terms of episodes of Mickey, for us]. Talk about everything. What the plane does, going into the sky, the window, the flight attendants and captains, the tickets, the airport, what it feels like when the landing gear comes down: my kids want to know all of it. Also, Super Nanny style, talk to them about your expectations for their behavior. What is okay and what is not, what happens with good and bad behavior.
Organize: I like to have a separate bag for each kid. Lucy’s bag includes her headphones, her snacks, a special treat, and an activity. Landon’s bag includes lots of snacks, diapers, wipes, and extra clothes. I know him well enough to know he wouldn’t be into a lot of stuff so I simply don’t pack it; he’d rather people watch. My bag includes a change of clothes for me [leggings and a tee], empty sippy cups for the kids, an iPad and a kindle, and a Lara bar in case my blood sugar takes a dip.
Pack Snacks: With all of the increased security at the airport, a lot of people forget that you can bring food. We like to bring rice cakes [yes, they take a lot of space but they're pretty clean to eat], cereal or puffs in sandwich baggies, bananas, fruit snacks, almonds, and more Lara bars. My kids eat a lot so I like the Lara bars [and clif kids bars]. It’s not a solution for everyone but I need a high-calorie snack to keep them full for a little longer and because of their allergies we can’t pick something up in the airport.
Keep Calm: Remember that all flights end at some point. Be relaxed and your kids will mirror your emotions. Each of my kids has a thing that calms them down. Landon loves a good song. It is incredible how quickly itsy, bitsy spider can calm that kid down. For Lucy, it’s a love and logic approach. She can’t be distracted but if you stroke her hair and listen to her she’ll usually pull herself together and ask for something [like a snack] and chill out. And hey, if calm means they’re watching a show from wheels up to wheels down: calm I choose.
Accept Help: You know that moment when you’ve just started loading groceries on the belt or you’ve just got in line to board an airplane and you hear faintly from the little person beside you, “I have to potty.” Lucy is the toddler queen of picking those inconvenient moments. So, this trip I boarded the plane and found the closest flight attendant to lend me a hand with Landon while I took Lucy to the potty. There was a man who offered to put my suitcase in the overhead compartment. Yes, thank you. You’re not a super mom for doing it all by yourself; you’re just a tired mom.
Laugh: Inevitably, usually also unfortunately, unexpected events are going to pop up during your travel. And you’re just going to have to laugh them off. You know, like when a security attendant has her hands in your pants giving you a pat down because your son’s nebulizer was run through the foreign substances machine and it showed a high level of something they won’t disclose to you. Maybe you just smile and think, “My husband didn’t get this cozy with me this morning.” Or when your son takes your daughter’s Minnie Mouse and she tackles him to the floor to retrieve it. Laugh it off. Maybe mentally tell yourself each incident deserves a Starbucks. Tally up!
Pray: Have everybody pray for you! The more, the better. Pray with your husband. Pray with your kids. Silently pray while the plane is taxiing. I’m serious.