Flying with a toddler! Is it as bad as they say it?
Oh the joy of flying…. This is the chance to relax, think about the place you’re going to and what fun you’ll have while on this wonderous trip… But what if you add a little 2 year old to the mix, shake it up and you get a Toddlercation!
When we decided to go on our first trip, I felt like I did a lot of research of what paper work we needed, what other parents said about traveling, what if I lose my son, very millennial of me. I called my mom every day asking her question after question. I think it was to the point that my mom had to talk me down and explain to me that she was the one who took two kids, one ALMOST 1 and another under 6, to Poland and back. I have to say she was brave. And she gave me a great piece of advice; You don’t need to do any research, it’s just flying with a toddler!! And she was right…. But I was still happy to be with my husband. I was so happy that my husband was with me in this endeavor, including enduring a toddler melt down at 36,000 feet in the sky. I was nervous about this trip and not just a little bit nervous…. I was so nervous that I was having nightmares about losing my son on the airport train!! This was probably the first time I woke up and like a crazy mother, and actually checked in my sons crib, to make sure that he was still there! But though the nerves were there I also understood that obviously he is just a two year-old, and as parents we were capable of handling our son. So, it probably was not going to be such a nightmare like the one I had the night I went a little bazerk.
Despite all the worry, I was very excited because I wanted this to be a learning experience for my son. He is old enough to learn about different etiquette’s, and I do believe that all parents should use every opportunity to teach their children. I wanted to teach him about airplanes, what is in the sky when he sees one flying by, and how to walk nicely in an airport! While we waited, we watched the airplanes disappear into the sky. I think the first thing Elijah noticed about the plains, was that they were ginormous! All the airplanes in the sky didn’t compare to what we saw at the airport that day. And the best part was that his dad was there to be amazed with him! As I observed my husband and my son bonding over the sight of the planes my heart became so happy. What did he learn about planes? Not too much. But he did learn that he could go to his dad with questions and he would do his best to explain it to him and answer his questions, and that he would get the best answer his father could give him. Where are they going? How can they fly like the birds in the sky? Why are we going on one of these birds? He explained everything to him.
We met one lovely lady who talked to us for a while and kept my son busy. As she spoke to my son, and he was listening and talking about the planes, I realized that my baby was growing and he wasn’t a baby any more, he is actually a toddler. It may not sound like much, but for a mom this is huge! Any mother can agree that it is hard to see your child leaving one stage of life and entering another, knowing that they will never be so little any more.
Our son is a very active boy and he loves to run around and see what’s going on with everything and it’s so great because he is always ready to learn and explore new things. But having an active child means that you play roulette with the traveling experience because we didn’t know if he would be ok sitting on the plane for 4 hours or if we were going to experience a numbing meltdown. As worried as we were I have to admit that we were blessed because he fell asleep right as the plane ascended into the blue sky. We were so relieved that this might actually be the best airplane ride ever. Our son would be rested when we landed and we would have a calm rest of the day. It was great. We decided to use this time to do some work on the plane and just have an adult conversation… which is a rarity these days. And there were some ups and downs but overall it was a great trip to California, and we learned a lot as parents.
The first thing that I learned is that no matter what you bring as a parent to keep your child busy, it never seems to be enough. So what on earth did we do during the trying time? Prayed a lot that something would work. We tried about everything! Even Youtube didn’t work at one point and he wanted off of the plane. He didn’t care that when he looked out of the window there was nothing but clouds and tiny houses. The second thing I learned…. if you let your kid scream enough you get free food! So maybe it’s not so bad to allow your child to go a little psychotic in the sky. But I promise people WILL look at you like they want to strangle you. At this point remember, they don’t have a toddler if they’re looking at you in judgmental ways. But what do you do to keep everyone on the plane from going ballistic?…
Have a bag of tricks for your kids of course! Make sure that whatever you personally choose to take is ok with TSA first. There is a list online at; https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children
- Books; Does your child have that one book that they want to read over and over? Well take that book. Or get a brand spanking new book that they get once they are on the plane. I would suggest waiting for them to start getting really bored before they get unwrap their new gift. For us it was “Curious George“. But there are others out there so take a look. The best way to know what works for your child is to simply take them to the library. Make it a special event for them and they can take a book to read when they go.
- Crayons; Crayons allow kids to not only have something to color with, but if they are still toddlers as a parent you can use this to practice colors. If you want to get creative you can play games with them. Some that I can even think off of the top of my head are; tic-tac-toe, the dot game, or “guess what I’m drawing” o just practice their colors. These games take time which means you can make it last, but they are also quick result games which children also need to keep them focused.
- Download a movie! I know, more screen time… but in this case yes, do it! The other passengers will appreciate you. Most kids will willingly watch the same movie over and over if they are interested in it at the moment. Special circumstances call for special devices and out of the norm activities (don’t forget the headphones).
- Finally, don’t forget their special toy, blanket or teddy, whatever will keep them feeling like they brought a piece of home along on this trip.
Making sure that you have enough space is necessary as well. This is tricky because you don’t want to pack too much but you also don’t want to under pack because you´ll be bringing more things back with nowhere to put it!!! You´ll be coming home with a headache. So, start out with what you absolutely cannot travel without. Diapers, cloths, shoes and a blanket. Now remember, this is just for baby/toddler. Toddlers need cloths, what’s the least amount you need. Diapers? Can you buy some when you get to your destination? If you said yes to this question… just get it at your destination. Only pack what you need for the trip. To make it easiest, use a vacuum space saver! They really help out, allowing you to have double the space in your luggage. I love them! Above all, the best trick for having a good trip with a toddler, is to have fun and make memories with them!
When we got to our destination, we were so happy to be on the ground and ready to see everyone and congratulate our graduate. 😊 So what did we do first? We had to sit again in a car to get to our final, final destination… mood?… a very frustrated toddler… and very exhausted parents… It seemed as though we should have been so happy just to be in California. And yes on the 45 minute ride to the hotel we let our son watch all the videos he wanted. He deserved it for sitting on that plane for so long.
The hotel was fun too. We had a swimming pool that was a little too cold to stay in for long. And the “No kids allowed” sign next to the hot tub was our “stay out!” So we swam for a little while, changed, and headed to the nearby mall. Which was an adventure in itself if you can imagine. Breakfast was great and everyone thought he was cute, so naturally he was able to get away with his wild tendencies. And unbelievably some of the guests at the hotel indulged him in his bad ways. I wanted to scream at all of them. But I decided that I would use him talking to everyone as my time to eat a good meal. After my son and I ate, we woke my husband up with some good breakfast… fresh waffles. I think my husband really enjoyed getting breakfast in bed in front of the t.v. for a few days. Naturally, Elijah wanted to sit with his dad on the bed and actually eat some more. (I love watching them interact with each other. My husband has told me that I probably get jealous when Elijah wants his dad, but to be honest, I absolutely love seeing the bond that they are forming together.) There are so many things that my husband can teach our son that I could never! But that’s just my side note because I love my boys so much I had to mention that.
Getting back to our trip… After breakfast we had our first big adventure in California…. What was that big adventure you might wonder? Imagine a mall from a two-year-old’s perspective…. I mean as a girl it’s great, but from a toddler’s eyes!? Running from store to store trying to touch everything! And there was a fountain for him. And whoever collects pennies from those fountains made quite a bit off of us. We kept pretty busy until the big event! Seeing my sister-in-law, Ashley graduate!
Everyone was so happy for her, and surprisingly our son who hadn’t seen her in months was probably the most excited when he saw her. I was just excited that he remembered her. All in all, it was nice to have some good family time on our vacation. And to be honest, also have someone else excited to watch Elijah! We could eat our whole meal for the first time since arriving on this California Adventure.
It was a great adventure!