We’ve had a busy summer in my house and my darling daughter, at the young age of 2 years and 9 months, has accumulated about 11,000+ frequent flier miles in just three months.
This much time in the air and traveling through airports for such great distances teaches you a lot. A lot about your kid, a lot about yourself and your partner and how well you can plan, pack and manage a long flight with a toddler and let’s not forget, it also teaches you a lot about other adults. Strangers. Especially our most recent trip, seeing as how I’m 6.5 months pregnant and the size of a house.
We just returned home from Seattle. My sister got married out there last week and DD was her precious flower girl. But it’s my thoughts from the road that I’d like to share with you today, after my long absence. Though for anyone wondering, DD made a fantastic flower girl and was really the star of the show, after the bride, of course.
Here are my observations and I take solace in knowing that I’ve survived these great distances to tell the tales:
1. If you are traveling with a child age 18 months+, and you do NOT have a portable DVD player, then I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you when things go ugly. Because they will. If you think your kid is too good for TV or you don’t want them watching TV, then you obviously haven’t actually traveled with a bona fide toddler. Get over it. You’ll save us all the misery. Go get it and let them watch it for as long as the glory lasts. But heed this advice because I, dear friends, have learned the HARD WAY (read: 9 hour flight to Europe). BEFORE purchasing your portable DVD player, investigate the BATTERY LIFE of said DVD player. Some schmuck at Target might tell you which one is the best one, but his needs aren’t your needs, and when you find out a short distance into a long flight that your battery dies after 2 hours – things really get tricky from there.
2. Snacks are good, traveling only in overnight diapers are a must-do (even for the potty trained, have you heard the sound the toilet makes when it flushes on a plane? Think a toddler is going to sit there after they hear it), wrapped “special presents” for “good girls” are good incentives – but all of these things only buy you small amounts of time. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there – so spread them out – have things planned for going and coming – but all that really matters is that portable DVD player. Oh – and be sure you have two changes of clothes for toddler and at least one different shirt for you and your husband – someone WILL get peed on, pooped on, puked on, or spilled on – and typically for us, within the first 20 minutes of the flight.
3. Sitting on your lap. Unfortunately the FAA has guidelines about when they must be strapped into their seat. The thing is, when you are rounding out a 5 hour flight with an overtired toddler who’s been up late and missed naps for days in a row because of wedding festivities, and she has previously been happily sitting on her dad’s lap looking out the window (yes, when preggo, I make my very tall husband have the window seat, a gal needs leg room and easy access to the toilet) – it is VERY confusing in the mind of a toddler – why can they sit on Dad’s lap sometimes but suddenly – they have to sit in their seat with a belt on. IF you think about it from their perspective, it makes no sense. The FAA can go F themselves. So just know this. Your child will probably scream. And you are trapped and there ain’t crap you can do about it. ON Saturday evening, my child screamed non-stop for the entire 15 minute descent into BWI. I really didn’t think she had it in her. Neither did DH. We have never heard her scream like that. Clearly she had forgotten why she was even crying after some time. But I found my inner-zen. I realized that there was nothing in the world we could do to stop it and in fact, each time I tried to console her, I made it worse.
So I pretended like it wasn’t happening. Somehow it made time go faster. You will become that family at some point on your trip – so be sure to not stare too much when someone else is that family. No one comes away unscathed.
4. One KT BFF summed it up perfectly when she said it’s the law of traveling with toddlers – you only get one good leg. So if your outbound flight is a breeze, then just accept and know that going home will be somewhat torture. It’s just the law of averages with the toddler. You’ll have more zen just accepting this as fact.
5. Strangers are assholes. I can’t chalk it up to just men or just women – but there are more strangers who are assholes than you can believe. I thought I’d seen it all when I was like 9 months preggo the first time and men on the metro would stare at me while luxuriating in their seat as I stood there. But that’s NOTHING on traveling with a toddler and being the size of a house and people still act like assholes. This includes flight attendants, FYI. On our outbound flight, DD hadn’t peed in at least 5 hours. She had an overnight diaper on but she was finally ready to go. And I had to pee, in fact, I was in extraordinary pain from the position of the baby. So the two of us are waddling down the aisle. What happened? The asshole man sitting in the last row of seats before the toilets saw us, sized us up, deliberately stood up right in front of us and walked into the only remaining empty stall.
What happened next? My DD started crying because she couldn’t hold it any longer and she wanted to be a big girl and go on the potty, I told her it was OK because she had a diaper on, so she squatted and peed (we are so white trash) but there was so much of it that it went all over her, her pants, socks, shoes, and me – and the floor (which I liked because the asshole flight attendant that I hated was sitting right there). To make matters worse, I continued to be in excruciating pain because this jerk was taking forever.
Bad karma befalls those who deliberately block a preggo and a toddler from using the toilet on an airplane.
So these are my thoughts and survival tips. I promise not to be so quiet anymore, work has slowed a bit, but I am one tired gal from last week’s trip.