The thought of keeping my 15-month-old on my lap for 4.5 hours nearly sent me to the loony bin. Boy was I naive when I thought that flying with a newborn was tough. I’d take that any day over a wiggly baby who thinks the word “no” is some sort of joke. Like many Charlotte transplants, I pack my bags and travel to see family during the summer without my hard working husband. I bore my fears of my looming solo flight to my girlfriends as we chased kids around the playground. Thank goodness for mommy friends, I mean really. I can’t claim any of these genius ideas as my own. They all came from wonderful, more experienced moms. But I am hoping that compiling these tips will help desperate first-time mom’s, like myself, have a little peace of mind leading up to a big flight.
Splurge on the flight a little. We flew direct, which was slightly pricier, but it saved me. It may seem obvious, but definitely go with an aisle seat. Annie spent most of the flight standing next to me in the aisle.
Use your stroller in the airport. I trekked through that airport with ease. Most airlines are no longer offering bags for your car seats or strollers. I made that mistake and watched as my car seat was tossed on to a conveyer belt, sticky cheerios and all (#momfail). Bring heavy-duty trash bags to protect the stroller and check it at the gate. Be the last one to board the plane. And I mean the last. Typically it takes 30 minutes for all of the passengers to board. Personally, I’d rather use that time to wear a toddler out than hold than confine them to a seat.
Take Off and Landing:
Make sure the toddler is sucking or swallowing during take off and landing. I’ve found that if I have her do this for 30-minutes going up and down it really saves us from screaming. Pacifiers, sippy cups, food, do whatever you can.
Snacks are crucial to survival. I brought anything and everything I could think of, and then some. Don’t forget treats for you too. A fed mom is a happy mom. I also brought candy bars for the people sitting next to me. You know, a little apology in advance. By the end of the flight the guys next to me had stickers covering their pants and were asking to follow me on Smarty Pants so they could see Annie. Needless to say, my bribes worked. Having a smiling passenger next to me made me that much more comfortable.
Try to think outside of the box. What catches their attention, hint: it’s probably not a toy! Annie is really into opening and closing things (like my blush or other boxes). A friend suggested buying a little tupperware with multiple compartments, like a pillbox with the days of the week on it. We put little treats in and out and in and out. Another idea is to ask the flight attendants for two cups, one filled with ice. Annie had a ball switching the ice from one cup to the other. It gave us at least 30-minutes of pure excitement. I also brought a box of band-aids. We pealed off all the paper tags and stuck them on our arms. Perhaps Annie’s favorite activity was the pop up post-it tags. She pulled them all out and stuck them on the seat in front of us. In my Mary Poppins bag of tricks I also had a new book and two new cheap toys. As a last resort, I brought the iPad. We only used it for a few minutes but boy is that thing a lifesaver in a pinch!
After using these tips I am proud to report that we made it through our flight without any tantrums or whining. I felt like I deserved some sort of medal of mommy honor. Nevertheless, I still have a return flight to brave as I head back to Charlotte. (YIKES!)
Any other recommendations from you Smarty Moms?