Sunday, September 13, 2009

On a Scale of 1 to 10...

Hubby and I have been home-bound (ish) since Anna was born last summer. Usually we take a few road trips during the year, but having a child who DETESTS the car...well, detests isn't quite the word...more loathes with the fire of a thousand suns...makes traveling a bit difficult.

In a moment of true "mommy amnesia" or just downright insanity, we decided to book a trip this fall. We leave on Saturday. Via airplane.

How I thought this was a good idea, I'm not entirely sure. Anna can't even make it through five minutes of church, much less an hour car ride without needing a break. And yet, I thought we could make it work for a four hour flight.

But, wait! It gets better! I will only have the comfort of suffering through this torture with my husband on one leg of the trip. For, dear friends, I am handling the return leg of the the trip solo. I can hear Anna clicking her fingers together maniacally and whispering "excellent" a-la Smithers from The Simpsons now.

Last night I asked hubby, on a scale of 1 to 10, one being "this flying with toddler thing - no problem, let's book our trip to Rio today!" and ten being "dear God. Please let this aircraft have parachutes. And please let them be toddler sized..." where did he think we stand. He replied "8." Which I took to mean something between "Thank God the other passengers also had to pass through security and very likely do not have weapons on them" and "That's it, we're jumping. That's all there is to it. Oh, what? We're still on the runway?!"

So how about it, folks? Send me your best traveling with toddler tips or worst horror story!


  1. Bring lots of objects she's never seen before(I will help you with this!!), Novelty is key!! Befriend the flight attendant from the moment you get on the plane- plead that you haven't done this before, etc and ask for a cup of ice right off the bat! Set Anna up with the small cake size disposable aluminum pan you've stashed in your carryon and put a piece of ice in said pan and watch her try to grab it-(this kept her daddy occupied for hours or until the ice cube melted, whichever came first) Repeat activity as often as she will tolerate it(may need to alternate with sewing block, Duplos, etc). Tip~Bring extra clothes as she will be soaked by the time you land but it's so worth it!! If all else fails-you know how she feels about Cheetos!!!

  2. A good friend of mine always made choc. chips cookies and handed them out to anyone sitting near her on a flight w/her toddler, BEFORE any meltdowns. :)
    I borrowed a travel DVD player so Norman could watch his absolute favorite Signing Time videos non-stop for our car trip recently.
    Also things I have heard but not tried- giving brand new post-it pads to pull apart, lots of straws to unwrap and play with, the tried-and-true Benadryl/Dimetapp to encourage sleeping en route. I may think of more, but I have a sad baby at my ankles right now!

  3. My tips and comments really would be just common sense. Personally, I've only ever been on two plane trips (there and back) with James, but he was three months old and it was one hour each way.

    Not sure I'd attempt the four hour plane ride with him now, but here would be my advice:

    - Snacks, plenty of them. Sultanas, little biscuits, grapes, bananas, whatever her favourite foods are. Keep them coming, but don't ambush her with them. Offer them regularly, but don't get fussed if she does or doesn't eat them. Probably steer clear of 'too messy' foods, but also keep one or two special treats up your sleeve that she rarely gets.

    - A good trick is to have a little sucking candy, life saver or what not, because in the 'taking off' and 'landing' times, they will both distract her and ease the popping of her ears.

    - Quiet, time wasting activities: crayons and paper. Even if she's not drawing anything, making her mark is the important thing. Colour, colour, colour. It should keep her entertained, plus in a plane there's not too many chances for her to run off... so less arguments about keeping the crayons with the paper.

    Stickers are good. Peeling off, sticking on, re-usable, shiny, glittery, kids love them all.

    Books, pick her favourites to read with/to her.

    We have this little block set with animals on them, to be placed in a stand and the stand "reads" the animal. It keeps James entertained for ages, 'lion... rrawrr', 'dog... woof', etc. Small electronic/battery games or devices can be managable and even preferred if they're keeping your daughter amused.

    - A laptop or portable DVD player (not sure about your airline restrictions, may want to check, but most laptops are ok) can be valuable if you play her favourite DVD, a comfort show, anything to get her feeling good. The Wiggles have been essential in keeping James occupied on the rare times we've needed it. If you haven't introduced her to them yet, NOW is the time.

    - It's a four hour long trip and no sane or logical person would or should expect a young toddler to sit still for that amount of time. Take advantage of quiet moments, where the 'seatbelt' light is unlit, and take her for a walk up the aisle. Usually toddlers and parents are placed somewhere towards the back, so there should be room. If she's sociable, (and in a good, friendly mood), walk her up the aisle and let her say hello to people. As long as she's not running and screaming about the place, it should be fine.

    You'll find most people, especially those without kids of their own, grandparents, etc, will *love* chatting with your daughter. Pay close attention to anyone who really wants to play 'peek a boo' games, because they are a great time waster, will keep her attention (new people can be more fun than mommy, even playing the same games) and may even give you five minutes respite to take a breath, have a sip of water, etc.

    - This may be an impossible task, but try to get her to nap during the flight. If she's asleep at the end, the landing may be easier (block her ears with your hands so they don't pop), because she won't even notice it.

    Most importantly, go into the entire thing relaxed and easy. If you begin stressed, she's going to pick up on that instantly and will become stressed herself. Don't cause unnecessary arguments, either, if she doesn't want one particular thing, don't force it, offer her something else to do.

    At home is one thing, in a cramped plane full of other people very few of them appreciate the "I'm the mommy, you'll do what I say!" rule when it causes tears.

    Hope this has helped.

  4. Aww, it's only going to max out at a "5/10" tops. Here's what you do: graciously accept the wine the flight attendant offers in sympathy to soothe your frazzled nerves. It doesn't matter that it's only 8 a.m. Disregard the deep red stains on your travel attire, surrounding seats and passengers dispersed when Anna flails about screeching at the top of her lungs rebelling against the flying wine and the tethers imposed on her when the Seatbelt Sign is lit and stays lit. You can teach her about Seatbelt Signs at age 10, now is the time for wine.

    Pray, pray like never before, that she doesn't scream "Make my blanket" for 3 hours like a certain unnamed cousin of yours a few years back. Can she say "Make my blanket" yet? I hope not. And when they point accusingly at you gathered around the baggage claim area: just point at someone else toting a toddler with that same glaring look on your face and feign ignorance, or identity crisis. It's simple. We have lots of Kleenex, you can decompress and cry your eyes out at will vowing to never, ever do this again while we eagerly get acquainted with Anna!