Surviving Airplane Travel With a Toddler and an Infant

Payton drawing

I’m fresh off of my ten day trip and wanted to share what helped ease the pain of traveling with two babies.

I scoured the internet for weeks before my vacation. I found information on air travel with a toddler and air travel with an infant, but none for both. Maybe because many parents would rather avoid traveling until their babies are older. But I’m glad I took a risk. It turned out way less scary than I imagined.

Prepping + low expectations + luck = pretty painless trip

While I’m no way close to being an expert, I did learn a few things that may help you tote your tots:

  1. Read Busy Toddler Happy Mom’s Traveling with Toddlers by Gayle Jervis and Kristen Jervis Cacka. This short travel book packs a punch. Mine is full of tabs and so valuable I packed in our already packed luggage. It’s not only helpful for traveling, but for those rare times when you go out to eat.
  2. Make “surprise” eggs. I don’t know about you, but my toddler loves watching those surprise eggs videos on youtube. I tried to mimic the action by filling eggs with things like play dough, capsules that turn into animals when you drop them in water, and jelly rings that light up. While I had to keep my 9-month old away from the tiny toys, he was pretty excited with the plastic eggs themselves.
  3. Pack new novelty books. Scratch n’ sniff books were a hit with my baby, toddler and me too.
  4. Wipeable workbooks. Who knew workbooks could be fun? The dry erase workbook that helps toddlers trace and draw was a lifesaver keeping my three-year-old busy for about an hour.
  5. Bring on the carseat. This is a secret tip shared by my flight attendant cousin. I believe it was the biggest reason for the ease of this trip compared with the hell ride we went on a few months earlier. He was so comfortable, he even fell asleep.
  6. Toddler safe scissors. Since I never gave my three-year-old scissors before, he was fascinated with using them to cut play dough.
  7. Build a fun bag. I read about how others mom created play kits out of makeup bags. Genius! Now why didn’t I think of that? Basically you fill these clear folders or binder pencil cases with things like antibacterial wipes, new toys, books, and snacks. This saved me a huge amount of time since it eliminated the need to dig through my carryon.
  8. BYOT(rash)B(ag). A flight attendant complimented me on this, but I have to give credit to one of the moms who wrote about it. The benefit of toting a trash bag? I didn’t have to wait for an attendant to take our cups, napkins, and everything else overflowing the seat pockets.
  9. Bring snacks they both can eat. Cheerios were a popular treat for both my kids.
  10. Dress your infant in socks. This is great for babies that are walking, standing or cruising. You can plop them on the ground and not worry about their feet getting dirty. Their hands? That’s another story.

Bonus tips:

  1. *Let them play on your phone or tablet. If all else fails, save those really tantalizing age appropriate iPad games for the trip. It’ll give you a little time to either entertain the baby, read (I actually got to do this!) or rest.
  2. *Prep them beforehand. For weeks before our trip, my toddler and I practiced our airplane voice. I told him that we had to be quiet on the airplane, other people would be on there and if he’s too loud he might get scolded by the flight attendant. Your child may not need a little warning, but doing so seemed to help mine.

The Things They Teach Us

Mom and child silhoutteIf anyone told you that one day you would endure hours of physical pain, mindless work and emotional struggle all with little hope of continuous sleep, you would think they were talking about imprisonment or self-torture. But many of choose this life when we become mothers. And surprisingly, we want to do it again, and again.

The reason?

We lose our ambition. We lose ourselves. We lose friends. We lose sleep. But there’s nothing like a child that can return you back to what’s truly important.

Love.

I don’t know of any other job as hard. I didn’t think I would one day grow up, spend a ton of money on school and more school, and end up being a mother. But now that I’m knee deep in it, I can see I was meant to do it.

My ultimate goal in life has always been inner growth. There’s nothing like a demanding toddler or a fussy baby that forces you to get real with yourself. You can’t hide behind a false sense of yourself or get away with whittling away with your time. For children, now is everything. In the process of breaking me open, they’ve changed me forever. These are the precious lessons they’ve taught me about what’s really important.

If you’re going to write, get to it.

Play is as necessary as breathing.

Don’t waste time and energy cajoling with un-joyful folk.

What you say matters, but what you do matters more.

Things are nice, but memories are everything.

Messing up is a daily necessity.

You don’t grow out of tantrums when you get older. It just looks cuter in kids than it does in adults.

It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s how you clean up afterwards.

Boys are dirty. Get over it already.

Life is more than what you’ve accomplished.

Rewarding moments rest in the most ordinary days.

One day soon your worst days will be the ones that had the greatest potential for growth and change.

Change is hard for everybody, kids included.

Babies and toddlers know what’s up every when they can’t say it.

If you want to teach your child kindness and empathy, teach yourself first.

Academics are not everything. There are many measures of success.

You can grow up poor, but feel rich with love.

You can mess up your kids in so many ways, but remember this. What they will remember most is whether they were loved.

The Superhero You Know

Super momThe next biggest superhero isn’t coming to a theater near you. What most people don’t know is that they have one of the most powerful ones in their home.

It’s you.

Here are top 10 super powers that should deem you the next Super Hero:

  1. Super pain. Yes labor is equated with running a marathon. But marathon runners get to rest afterwards. Moms don’t get any sleep and probably won’t for the next few years.
  2. Super smart. What other person can get by on a few hours of sleep and make coherent sentences, never mind cook dinner, clean and make sure their kids aren’t animals when they leave the house?
  3. Super organized. Okay so you don’t know what day it is or when you went to the gym last, but the diapers, the hand sanitizer, and pacifiers! You could find them with your eyes closed.
  4. Super chef. Maybe no one would pay to eat at your restaurant, but when the kids are whining and the fridge is empty, you can whip up something edible like nobody’s business.
  5. Super patient. Yes we all blow up after 12 hours of whining. But only you can hear your child’s fifth plea for milk without losing your mind.
  6. Super resourceful. MacGyver has nothing on you. You can wield a nursing cover out of your jacket and turn toilet paper rolls into a musical instrument, bowling game and craft project.
  7. Super determined. You know you’re not perfect. But that doesn’t mean you won’t try. Even if you can’t be cool like your kid’s classmate’s mom, doesn’t mean you won’t try to be the most loving one.
  8. Super hopeful. Love is blind. And that’s a good thing. Your kid’s not perfect either. But you love him or her anyway. And you’re hopeful that even though today the crap hit the fan, you always have tomorrow.
  9. Super prepared. You’ve got indentations in your back from carrying around a 50 pound bag. But no one’s more prepared for runny noses, antsy toddlers and toilet mishaps than you.
  10. Super efficient. You don’t have time to twiddle your thumbs. You’ve got changing a diaper down and can multitask like nobody’s business. Thirty minute meals? You should be a Food Network for your infamous five minute meals.

All together you’re braver (do people know what potty training looks like?), stronger (have you carried a toddler in a carrier) and more powerful than any superhero. And while you won’t save victims from fires and deadly villains, every day you do the hardest, most meaningful job in the world. You’re raising your own mini superhero. So go on and give yourself a pat on the back and forgive yourself when you don’t check off all the items on your to-do list. It’s okay that you’re not the model looking mom who raised her kids while cultivating a kick ass career. You don’t get recognition for it, but what you’re doing is amazing. Remember that. Remember that when the toilet overflows, your toddler is screaming, oh and the baby hasn’t slept yet. Good job Super Mommy! Good job!

You Know You’re a Mother When…

Moms

 

This title is kind of ridiculous because once you’re pregnant, you can’t really be in denial any longer. With that being said, there are a few funny tell-tale signs that signal a giant shift from life without kids to life with kids that all moms will appreciate. So without further ado. Here’s how you know you’re a mom even when you’re not with your kids:

  1. You tune in not out to the sound of a wailing child.
  2. Your morning routine has dwindled down to taking a quick glance at your shirt. You want to make sure it’s relatively snot and milk free. Oh and make sure your button and bra is on if you are a nursing mother.
  3. Your idea of a wild time is going out late at night, which is any time after the kids are asleep.
  4. Having free time makes you overwhelmed with options. Should you do the laundry or flip mindlesly through a magazine?
  5. Going to the market kids free feels like a shopping spree.
  6. You don’t remember what you did with all your free time before kids. But you kind of wished you saved some for now.
  7. You don’t know if your memory loss is due to lack of sleep or age.
  8. Sleep feels like a fairytale just like unicorns and gold at the end of the rainbow.
  9. You’re suddenly extroverted and can make friends with anyone who has kids.
  10. You’re as excited about going to a wedding as you used to feel on date night.
  11. When you go out to eat, you automatically check the menu for entrees your kids will actually eat. And you do this even if they aren’t there.
  12. You feel the urge to blast the radio when you’re in the car alone. Anything that’s not nursery rhymes is literally music to your ears.
  13. You can’t pass a store without thinking about what to get your kids.
  14. You cut all your food into small pieces.
  15. You find yourself humming to kid songs like da-da-da-da-da-da two and four and six and eight…(Bonus points if you know what song that is.)
  16. If you’re a stay at home mom, your day is broken down to: how many hours until my partner gets home.
  17. You can’t remember what you did that day, but by the end you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.
  18. Your nightstand is about to topple over under the weight of all your parenting books.
  19. Food floating in water, boogers, poop and pee doesn’t disgust you like it used to.
  20. You know more about characters on Sesame Street and Mickey’s Clubhouse than what’s going on in the news.

What I Would Tell the Disheveled Mom With Her Screaming Kids

cry babyIf this were B.K. or before kids, I would try to avert my eyes and run. Mommy meltdowns and blood curdling screams from tantrumy kids made my skin crawl. It’s one of the reasons why I thought I would never have kids.

Fast-forward three years.

I’m running through Target like a contestant on Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games. Move people! I’ve got a hungry, crying baby. Next up-a flying toddler. My kid dives out of the shopping cart. Without warning. While I’m paying. I’m trying to figure out how to stop him from doing it again when he darts for the evil junk at the checkout aisle. There’s a growing line of people building behind me, a cranky two-year-old and a cashier that wants to strangle me. I had an amazing moment when I realized I’m that mom. I’m the mom with the snot soaked shirt. I’m the mom with suitcase under her eyes that’s yelling at her kids, that’s holding the line, that’s not in control.

I’m all those moms.

So here’s what I would tell you if you ever a) find yourself in this same predicament b) see a mom who is:

Take a deep breath. It’s all okay. You feel judged. You are probably are being judged. But those people don’t know how hard it is. They might be seeing you at your worst. They don’t know the hours you spent trying to calm a teething baby and a scared of the dark toddler. They don’t know how you soothed your son’s fears or kiss his owies away or spend hours trying to find the right recipe that he will actually eat. But none of that matters. The person you should be concerned with is you.

I’m taking a Self-Compassion course with Brene Brown and Kristin Neff. One of the things I learned is to put our hands over our heart or give ourselves a gentle hug. Secondly, tell yourself the following: “You’re struggling. This is hard. Everyone struggles. You’re not alone.”

This is what I would tell you.

You’re doing the best you can in a job impossible to be perfect at. You will have good days when you feel like you’re doing a pretty good job. Your child will look up at you and smile. You’ll feel like you got this parenting thing down. And you will have those horrendous days when the poop literally hits the fan. And that’s okay too. You messed up. Your child’s disappointed, scared or sad. You tried your best. You can try again.

I don’t think anyone leaves childhood unscathed. We’ve all got scars. They will have them too. Our job is to teach them that life isn’t perfect, but love is. Teach them you can love yourself even when you feel like a monster and you will have done an amazing job because we all mess up. We all say the wrong thing. We all hurt each other. The main thing is whether we can say to ourselves at the end of the day, “I loved my hardest. I lived the fullest. And I forgive myself for the moments that I didn’t measure up. I am both beautiful and messy. I love you. I love myself. We are all works in progress.”

Effortless Teepee II

This will be a short post because it took me no more than 5 minutes to put a toddler teepee together. The hard part was entertaining two babies at a hardware store while trying to carry bamboo poles and them back to my car. Thank you nice City Mill salesperson for helping me with the latter.

Basically, I’ve been reading how-to make an easy teepee online and via pinterest. Again, the difficult part was finding time to do it. Luckily, a relative was over again this time to watch the two.

How I did it:

  1. All I did was wrangle together 5 bamboo poles. I was not picky about which ones. In fact, that salesman chose them for me.
  2. I also bought jute rope. Make sure you’re not settling for anything thinner. It’s got to be strong enough to withstand your kids. You know yours. I know mine.
  3. I also got a drop cloth. The cheapest one I could find that was still made out of cotton, not plastic, was a runner. 
  4. Basically, I used one hand to hold five bamboo poles and the other to wrap the jute rope around the entire thing. Then, I weaved the rope around each one in an erratic and not consistent figure eight.
  5. Lastly, I tied each ends of the rope into a knot.
  6. When the teepee was sturdy, I wrapped it in the runner.
  7. The final steps included adding a ribbon at the top, a few toddler pillows and his bear pillow.

I’m surprised how easy it all turned out.

Toddler teepee

Here is the baby before and the toddler after. It went by so fast. I could weep. Not the room transformation, the growing up. Anyone else with me?

Nursery picTeepee toddler room

Go here to read part I of the transformation.

 

Effortless Teepee Part I

This is not a potty training post. But as a mom of two trying to manage potty training with no sleep, I can understand how it could easily read as that.

This is a post on how I’ve been working on transforming my toddler’s nursery into a big boy’s room with nil time and money. For all you stay at home mommies out there, you know it’s our own riveting Cupcake Wars.

I started out with a moody gray room. But it needed something fun, bright and not so dreary. I’ve been slowly collecting decorations like hanging fish and a whale from Target. I just needed a day to piece it together.

One day miraculously appeared last week when relatives stopped by for an impromptu visit. It gave me just enough time to figure things out.

Here’s the room before my two kids. Can you even imagine life before kids anymore? I can’t.

Gray nursery

This is the nursery before kids exploded into our home.

Nursery pic

I was excited to finally be able to put things on the wall without worrying a baby would stand on the crib mattress and pull these down. I attached fishing wire with thumbtacks, high enough so even toddlers who know how to grab stools can’t reach them, and this big old whale below.

Fish room

This is not a staged photo obviously. This is real life. In addition to the Target wall decor, here’s the 411 on the decor I fell in love with.

  1. Woodland coverlet set I found at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
  2. Twin navy bed which we found on Overstock.

Toddler rooms

Something was still missing so I eventually pulled together a teepee with bamboo and jute rope. I’m anxious to post about it, but the laundry needs attention. I promise to delve into it soon. To be continued…