I get restless staying in the same place for too long. I need to explore, eat great food, hear new languages & lounge on exotic beaches. I need to travel.
We made a conscience decision to have kids before pets because, well, when was the last time you saw a “no babies, please” sign in a shop window or a hotel brochure?
It’s generally acceptable to take tiny humans into civilized establishments. And so, I had big expectations for the trajectory of my travel career – even during mommyhood.
With that, each of my children completed their first round-trip flight before hitting the two-month mark. And since then, they’ve flown (on average) once every 8 weeks – sometimes more. I should have flying with kids down to a science….
So, on the heels of our recent summer vacation, I feel inspired to discourage all the parents out there. This is: your body on a cross-country flight – WITH KIDS… 😉
Airport Bound: Optimistic. You’ve downloaded all of their favorite shows, packed crowd-pleasing snacks, books and ‘new toys they’ve never seen before’. It’s only 6 hours…. Maybe they’ll sleep the whole time… You grab a second cup of coffee, just in case.
Hour 0: You get the jitters. It could be the caffein, or it could be because you’ve taken your toddler to the airplane bathroom – twice – and the plane hasn’t even left the gate. As other passengers board, they look into your row, then down at their seat assignment. If they’re sitting far, far away, they give an encouraging smile. If they’re doomed to sit nearby, they go pale. So do you.
Hour 1: Calm comes over you. Wheels up. iPads on. The baby is nursing, and therefore, quiet. Yep, It’s going to be okay. Only 5 hours and 12 minutes until arrival (not that you’re counting), and you packed hours worth of toys, games, shows & snacks. You’ve got this!!
Hour 2: Panic. You don’t got this! Any other day you’d have to pry your toddler away from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but today, she wants nothing to do with TV – or civility. She starts body luging off of her seat, whining as her tiny form crumples to the floor. Nothing in her backpack is amusing. Meanwhile, the baby has awoken from her 20 minute milk-coma. Your arm is still asleep and you have to pee sooo bad – really regretting that second cup of coffee right now. Four more hours…
Hour 3: Hot Flashes & Cold sweats. You’ve hit survival mode. You managed to use the bathroom while holding the baby and trying not to let your toddler sit on the wet floor (you failed). And now, you’re looking for ways to keep your circus contained to a 6’x2’ cell (ahem, I mean row) for three more hours. Beads of sweat form. Your mind goes blank. Four people in three seats for six hours – you’re not sure how this is legal.
Hour 4: You’ve lost all sense of time. You check the time and are excited to see that touchdown is in an hour and a half – you’re feeling like a rockstar mom & your heart flutters. When you look again, you realize that your AppleWatch changed time zones over Nebraska, and you actually have upwards of 2 hours to go. All hope is lost. You return to pacing the aisle while one child sprints ahead of you (throwing elbows) and the baby screams & flails about in your arms. Is time moving backward?
Hour 5: Hope Returns. You’ve broken the 2 hour barrier (for real this time) – a glimmer of hope, immediately eradicated by claustrophobia. This airplane is the hottest, stickiest place you’ve been since you spent a summer in Florida without AC. Hair sticks to the back of your neck as little hands paw at your face and chest, vying for attention. The guy in front of you opens hours-old curry… you choke back vomit.
Hour 6: Disbelief. You are in disbelief that you’ve survived until the final hour, and that neither kid has taken a measurable nap. Emotions run high, mayhem is looming. You develop an anxious knee bounce (at least the baby seems to like it) and hold your breath, waiting for the captain to mumble “Ladies & Gentleman, we’ve begun our initial descent”. Will the moment ever come?
Landing: Euphoria. You imagine this is what it feels like to finish an Iron Man race – endorphins flood your body. You scramble to collect your things and your offspring, only to realize that your daughter’s eyes have just closed. A tear rolls down your cheek. Sadness? Elation? You’re not sure.
At Baggage Claim: Exhausted & Starving. Your AppleWatch says you burned more calories ‘sitting’ on a plane all day than you do by completing your 10,000 steps. All you’ve eaten is 80 calories worth of airplane pretzels – oh, and two cups of coffee. You vow to stay home for the rest of your life.
1 Month Post-Flight: You experience travel amnesia and decide that a family trip to the Bahamas is just what the doctor ordered.
Proverbs 14:29: Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.