Anna and I flew home yesterday, sans Daddy - quite an adventure! Anna was on her very best behavior, especially for being cooped up in her car seat for a half hour on the way to the airport, stuck in her stroller for nearly an hour going through security and getting to the gate, shoved back into her car seat for a 3 hour and 40 minute flight, back into the stroller for 40 minutes to get our bag from baggage claim and then into the car seat AGAIN for the half hour drive home. That poor kiddo did a lot of sitting around yesterday. And I did my best to keep her entertained. I learned a few things about traveling with a toddler that I'd like to share with you here.
1. Snacks, snacks and more snacks! We had cheerios, yogurt melts, cookies, muffins, crackers...and Anna ate many of them. The rest she had great fun throwing around the airplane. I'm STILL apologizing to the flight attendants for the mess that I'm sure they're STILL cleaning up!
2. Travel magnadoodle serves multiple functions - fun for sticking stickers to the screen, figuring out how to draw, and oh, yes, the "pen" is great for getting at those hard-to-reach toddler-sized boogers. I handed the magnadoodle over to Anna and she was enjoying it so I leaned my head back and rested for 30 seconds. When I realized just how quiet it was in the seat next to me, I became suspicious. My investigation revealed an inquistive Anna sticking the magnadoodle pen up each nostril of her cute little button nose. Don't fault me for this, but I actually paused to weigh my options at this point: "She's quiet. It's entertaining her. Do I REALLY need to stop her from sticking that thing up her nose? How much damage could it really do?" In the end I decided that a carefully placed bounce of the plane could leave us with skewered brain so I kindly requested that Anna remove said wand from her nose. My request was met with many ear-shattering screams.
3. Stickers, while sometimes frightening for their super-sticking power, are a GREAT time-waster. Again, apologies to the flight attendants - I'm sure Strawberry Shortcake and Cookie Monster are still hanging around on the walls, windows and cracks of seat cushions in 4 aisles surrounding our seats. Anna discovered that sticking stickers on places other than on her fingers (which freaks her out) is great fun! Mommy's back, mommy's face, Anna's face, Anna's pants, the laptop, the stranger next to us, any part of the airplane that will accept stickable stickers...My laptop is still covered with Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. I kind of want to leave them there as my badge of "way to go, Kerry, figuring out how to keep that munchkin occupied for more than an hour with self-adhesing paper!"
Just a note - if you decide to go this route - make sure to remove said stickers from your face prior to disembarking the aircraft. Strangers have a tendency to look at you a little, well, strangely, when your forehead is sporting a giant strawberry sticker. Whatever, dude. My one-year-old thinks it's hilarious.
4. Don't force ANY issues. Don't want to drink your water? Fine. Don't want to wear your left shoe? Fine. HAVE to keep the right one on? Whatever. Need to stick your thumb up mommy's nose? If it makes you happy, kid, that's cool. Within reason, the word No should just be gone from the vocabulary during the flight. You know, except when you need to perform magnadoodle wand nasal extractions. And even then...make sure she thinks it's her idea.
All in all, flying with a toddler - even by myself - wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Once I got over the "everyone will be mad if she cries" thing and adopted the "it's 3 hours of your life, whiny 20-something brat - suck it up!" attitude, things were great. Not something I plan to do again anytime soon, but I think I'd be more inclined after this experience to drive someplace farther away with her. That way we can take some running around breaks.