Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Traveling with Two Children Under the Age of 4: What I've Learned


This past week we commenced on our first family trip as a family of four via airplane. There was apprehension, excitement and a whole lot of screaming. Last Wednesday we departed to visit family in the Midwest. The trek consisted of a 2 1/2 hour plane ride, then two days later a 5 hour car ride to another city, and then two days later the plane ride back home.

This wasn't our first plane ride with children, we had once before flown to South Carolina for a wedding and then did a 4 hour car ride to another wedding, but other than that we had no other trips with the kids, and those weddings were just with Sweet Pea, Bambino wasn't even born yet! So this year we decided we just couldn't put it off any longer, it was time to visit family.

It was tiresome, gruesome and overall a good time visiting family. And to all of you parents who have children and fly, you know just what I mean when I say that by going on vacation you're setting yourself up for the perfect storm, but just how prepared are you for when the big one hits? Here are some things that I've learned over this past trip.

Bring lots of bribery items
I don't know about your parenting techniques, but in times of crisis I'm a big believer in the reward system. "Finish your dinner and you can watch an episode of Little Einsteins before bed." Ok, so that's not so much crisis, but an episode of a television show before bed will calm her down so it's two birds with one stone. So for the trip I packed lots of snack foods to use when I needed her to do something quick and fast. Sweet Pea loathes public bathrooms, but I bought her a Lambie doll from Doc McStuffins to get her to sit on a public potty, and Hallelujah she did!

Use threats with those bribery items
"If you don't stop screaming I'm taking Lambie away from you." Demonstration of taking Lambie away works well too.

Yes, your child will probably poo in his diaper on the plane
This was one of my biggest fears. Bambino is a big boy, while he's only 13 months old he's pretty big for his age, height and weight, so changing him in a bathroom on the plane scared me senseless. I kept thinking, what were the odds? A 2 1/2 hour plane ride, what are the chances that he'll poo at that time. Ahh, about 90%, it's just how Murphy's Law works. On the way there, we were good. But on the way back, it wasn't so pretty. It was towards the end of the flight, when we were on our descent and we had to remain in our seats with the seatbelts fastened and that's when I smelled it. I prayed it was just toots, but no, there it was and I couldn't get up to change it. At least we were in the last seat of the plane so hopefully people thought that it was just the bathroom smelling.

Come prepared with an extra pair of clothes...or two or three
In my diaper bag I packed two extra pairs of clothes for Sweet Pea and three extra pairs of clothes for Bambino. Well, after the diaper bomb which also had my glass of water absorbed into it after Bambino had knocked it into his lap, I needed to change his clothes. Before the plane ride I changed Bambino's clothes at the airport because there was a combination of breakfast and lunch over his polo shirt, so I knew there was one more onesie in the bag. (The third outfit was used at another point on the trip, during the 5 hour car ride.), but I couldn't find it and Sweet Pea was inching her way out of the bathroom and I didn't want to take Bambino out the door sans clothes. So what did I do? Yes, I did. I had to use one of Sweet Pea's pink, cupcake shirts to put on him along with the plaid shorts that had no stains on it. Thankfully we only went through baggage claim and then my dad was waiting to pick us up. But he looked so cute! He proudly rocked that pink, cupcake shirt like a man! Oh, and as I was unpacking, I found his other onesie at the very bottom of my diaper bag.

Yes, be that parent with the iPad and multiple iPhones
I always said I wasn't going to be one of those parents who was going to just sit my kids down in front of the television to quiet them, so instead I put them in front of an iPad. Seriously, it really kept them entertained on the airplane and in restaurants. I mean, I didn't want to offend the people around us with their screams of frustrations and even their laughter. Sweet Pea has a loud, voracious laugh. And let me tell you, as I watched the screaming 15 month old in the aisle next to us I noticed that she had no television device, not that I'm judging. It's just what I noticed.


The travel ducky bathtub was the best thing invented since Comet
For a germaphobe like me, I was hesitant about giving the kids a bath in the hotel bathroom. It's one thing to stand in the tub, but for the kids to sit in the tub, it grossed me out. I was planning to buy some Comet and a sponge to clean the bottom of the tub (as I've done on previous trips), but instead I purchased an inflatable ducky at H-E-B before the trip to put in the tub and the kids loved it! Sweet Pea, who is far too big for the duck, wouldn't get out of the tub and still sits in it, limbs dangling over board.

Middle-aged men who work at the airport use the family bathroom to poop
There was a line between the two family bathrooms, and as us mothers commiserated over the travel experience we witnessed two men, with airport badges, exit the facilities. Excuse me? Where is your family? That's right, not with you. You just wanted a private place to go number two while at work, not so private, huh? Well I sure gave him an uber-exaggerated eye roll behind his back. What? I didn't want to go all Brenda Walsh on him like he was Dylan exiting a restaurant with Kelly shortly after their break-up. I did have the kids with me.

Just because the trip was a success doesn't mean you won't be left with excess baggage
Bambino was screaming inconsolably last night, I thought for sure it was an ear infection, but no it's a viral infection of the throat, some foreign name for something that is in the same family of hand, foot and mouth disease. He's contagious and we have to stay away from friends for 1-2 days. Fingers crossed Sweet Pea doesn't get it too.

Between packing, the trip, unpacking and getting over illness, a five day vacation actually means you are out of commission for ten days. I do not exaggerate. But overall, the trip was good, we had a great time visiting with family and at least it was only poo on the plane and not throw up. Oh yeah, that was saved for my brother and sister-in-law's study, sadly the smell is still lingering. Sorry, guys! 

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