Thursday, June 30, 2011

Repost: Traveling with Tots

Ted and I were returning with the girls from a friend's wedding in Los Angeles.  It was supposed to be a mildly painless flight from LAX to SFO; the total flight time is less than an hour.  As we were about to board, Ted informs me that two of our seats have been upgraded to first class, leaving just one seat in coach (since Maisy is under two, we didn't bother to buy her a seat).  Why a red flag did not immediately go up in my mind, I don't know, but I responded "mm hmm."  Ted boarded first with Elana and they nonchalantly took their seats in 2C and 2D.  He then handed me my boarding pass for 13C.  In disbelief, and not wanting to cause a scene, I yanked the pass from his hand and trudged back to economy.

After situating the diaper bag, my purse, Maisy's lambie, and Maisy into our two square-feet of space, my seat mate boards.  She is a very lovely, kind, and gentle elderly woman who makes the appropriate comments about Maisy's cuteness.  However, she is also of the size "extra big-boned" and requires the arm rest to be up in order to accommodate her additional love.

Maisy's adorable personality immediately transforms as soon as we pull back from the gate and prepare for take off.  She is just learning how to walk, and refuses to be stationary in my lap for the next 15 min.  Maisy arches her back, screams, flails her arms in all directions, and her face turns bright red.  Passengers all around us look at me as if I am performing an exorcism on the baby.  I try to give apologetic looks, but it is hard to multitask while restraining a psychotic infant.

In the meantime I glance up to first class where Ted is watching an episode of "Glee" on his iPad.  Elana, who missed her nap that afternoon, is curled up in the spacious seat next to him, completely dead to the world.  At that moment I do not know if I could detest my husband more. 

After 25 min of trying to placate a stubborn and determined Maisy, I gather up my things, march up to first class and take over 2C.  Without actually speaking to him, I send Ted back to economy and let Maisy play on the extra wide seat while I wedge myself in the floor space.  Elana is still asleep.  For the next 20 minutes Maisy alternates between playing contently in her seat with my iPhone, poking Elana in the nose, and telling me "no, no, no" every time I try to share the seat cushion.  Predictably, the exorcism restarts as soon as the flight attendant gets the cabin ready for landing. 

As we deboard the plane, Ted (who is carrying a deep expression of guilt) turns to me and says "Well, that flight wasn't so bad," just as I was about to tell him "Well, that flight took two years off my life expectancy."  We have a silent and uneventful drive to our house and I leave Ted to unload the two girls from the car so that I can pour myself a glass of wine.

One friend with multiple children, who was tired of always being stuck with the baby flight after flight, found a clever solution.  A few minutes before the plane was to board she began gathering all the luggage, diaper bags, the stroller, and the car seats.  Her husband, a bit confused, asked her if she needed any help.  "Oh, no" she responded, "you just get the baby".  Although her legroom was a bit crowded that flight, her lap was not.

Another good friend gives her daughter a dose of some drug that is only available in Australia which puts their daughter right to sleep.  I would be all over this, but Ted is adamant about not giving our children medicine that are not FDA approved (he can be so prudish).

There is no faster way to add the dark lines of aging to your skin than to travel with two kids three and under.  It does get better as they grow older.  I am anxiously awaiting the day Maisy can sit still and watch Cinderella on a mini-DVD player.
In the meantime, the the website offers these tips when traveling with babies and toddlers:
  • Wear footware (for you and your children) that easily slip on and off.
  • Allow extra time.  When you have kids everything takes twice as long.
  • Place a small bag with one diaper, wipes, and a changing pad in the seat pocket in front of you.
  • Use disposable bibs.
  • Wrap toys for added entertainment value.
  • At the airport, strap your toddler into a child's harness, lease, or muzzle.
  • Bring a baby sleeping bag so that your precious child does not have to come in contact with scratchy airline seats.
Married with Toddlers offers these tips for traveling with babies and toddlers:
  • A round or two at an airport bar before boarding.
  • A box of ear plugs to offer those passengers unfortunate enough to be seated near you.
  • Treats, the kind that you don't usually let the kids have.  These should include: gummy bears, lollipops, and M&M's.
  • iPad, Sony PSP, and a DVD player to be rotated every 5 min between each child.
  • Benodryl, for the kids and you.  The more potent the better.  I prefer the "thin strips", these are easiest to administer.
  • Extra change of clothes for you and the children, in case they should spill juice, pee themselves, or vomit during the trip. 
  • Best tip of all- LEAVE THE KIDS WITH GRANDMA!!!
So now it is your turn.  What's your best tip for traveling with tots?

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