Flying with Littles
One of the most intimidating things I did, when my son was 2 years old, was flying with him alone. My then-husband was away on deployment and my dad was getting married. My son has always been an easy-going child, but this was a whole different kind of challenge for me. I was a first-time mother, taking a “terrible two” on his first plane ride (with a layover) by myself. Who in the world thought this would be a good idea? However, I find that the more I can plan for things, the smaller my anxiety becomes.
The first thing to remember is that you know your child(ren) better than anyone; to this day I find that comforting thought, even on the tough days. So, the first tip I would give is to try and fly around their schedule…within reason of course. If you know your child is easier going first thing in the morning, try to schedule that red-eye flight; however, the same applies if you know it would be easier to fly with them sleeping. Also, planes are typically fairly limited on what they have on hand, so it is crucial to pack enough of their favorite foods in your carry-on to keep your children happy. Be sure to check with your airline on what is and is not allowed on the flight; it would be terrible to have to throw it all out at TSA check.
Of course, we all have phones, tablets, etc. to keep our children somewhat occupied. However, when (not if) our kids get bored with that during a flight there are ways to get in front of it. For my son’s age, at the time, what helped me tremendously was the dollar store. I went there, days before the flight and bought out their toy section, anything I thought would help my son stay entertained; it only cost me around $25.00. Our flights were about 4 hours combined, so, every fifteen minutes to half an hour I would pull out a new toy or snack for him to have. I found this helped him pass the time and he really looked forward to the new thing that would pop out of our bag!
It is always important to remember we cannot prepare for everything. My flight was in the early evening, but we managed to get delayed for almost three hours (because, of course), so, by the time we landed at 1 am my son was asleep in my arms; something I was actively trying to avoid. I had to wake him up, as it was too cumbersome to carry him, my backpack, purse and our carry on all at the same time. As predicted, when I woke him up, he chose to sing us the song of his people and throw a lovely tantrum on our way to the car. Unfortunately, most people were wrapped up in their own destinations that I did not have any help. Now I look back and laugh but at the time I was very close to setting up camp at the airport so my boy could nap!
Remember mom (and dad), no matter what happens you are doing a great job! You can handle whatever life, or kids, throw at you!