Friday, January 22, 2016

Flying with My Toddler

There aren't many things about parenting a toddler more intimidating than flying alone.  I have flown alone with Leavitt more than I have flown with help and have a few tips to share that make my life easier.

The first and maybe most important thing to remember when flying with a tot or baby is to buy them a seat even if they are under two.  We have never held him on our laps, having him strapped in and screaming is much more manageable for me than holding him while he flails and screams.  Also sit as close to the front as possible.  First row is ideal since there is no one in front for tiny feet to kick.  This also makes mommy bathroom trips easier.  I always ask a flight attendant to standby if Leavitt is sleeping and I don't take him with me.  Usually if I am more than a couple rows back I take him.  Flight attendants aren't always the most helpful but usually if they are close by they offer things to help a solo mom out.  The biggest reason for row one? Not having to lug a bag, toddler and, car seat down the aisle.... worst part for me every single time.  Make sure if you get to select your seat you choose the window seat since a car seat must go by the window and you will be taking someone else's seat if you have to swap.  Usually they don't mind but I did run across someone this trip who was pissed and they made sure to let me and everyone else know about it.  As much as I felt bad about it for him I felt worse for me having to sit snuggly between him and my toddler.  I had packed a whole bag of Reese's to bribe my toddler with.  I offered the guy a couple to try to ease the tension.

Do your homework.  Read up on TSA liquid regulations and flying with kids.  I always double check to make sure we haven't aged out of the "medically necessary liquids" which are milk, water, formula, breast milk and juice.  Keep those in separate zip locks and announce them as soon as you start taking other things out.  It takes longer to check those because they test them all individually.  Letting them know exactly what you have going on is the best way to get through.  My stroller must be hand checked so I tell them but I find that telling them last about the stroller is best so they aren't waiting to take it before I take him out.  He is the last thing I take out before going through the metal detector.  I never wear a belt or big jewelry while flying because its one more things to worry about at security.  I leave my car seat in the bag and send it through the x-ray machine.  If yours doesn't fit they will do a hand check and that can take a couple minutes so make sure to let them know when you let them know about the stroller.  Otherwise it can get left on the belt... I know its happened.  Usually my bag comes back to me first I try to have a small treat for him for being good and something to make him less fidgety as I am usually sweating by now.

I have already mentioned how important the car seat is to your on board sanity, and how to get it through security.  I have a little tip that has saved my life every single time since we have been out of the infant carrier.  I use a car seat bag which is more of a duffel but I use the straps like a backpack.  this keeps my hands free while schlepping all this gear to the plane.  My husband always says goodbye at the curb so I need that extra hand free for a suitcase when I get to my destination.  I actually prefer he leave us at the curb because it gives me a chance to wrangle all of our stuff under the best circumstances because I won't have help when we land.  Once we check our suitcase I have my car seat on my back, kid in the stroller, and mom purse underneath.

Buy an inexpensive car seat that is less than fifteen pounds.  Our car seat for every day use is close to thirty pounds and is hard to wrangle.  You also have to leave your kid in the stroller curbside while you install and uninstall at the airport.  I chose this one for the good reviews, inexpensive price and the fact that it is ten pounds.  I love that I can throw it in the back of my car when we get home and he goes directly into his normal seat.  At the end of a long trip the last thing I want to do is wrangle a car seat back into my car.

I gate check my stroller and will be honest I take my stroller everywhere despite the hefty price my husband paid for it.  Why have it if you won't use it right? Ok, so it is a little worse for the flight wear but I am familiar with it and that is key since there will be a lot going on when you hand that off.  For starters everyone else and their gear are boarding.  Transitioning the baby from stroller to arms while boarding with car seat and mom bag is the trickiest part of the whole trip and to be honest the shortest worst part of the whole thing for me.  This makes row one a real treat because the flight attendant will have to take a look at the car seat to make sure it is suitable for an aircraft.  I always take the car seat out of the bag before I take him out of the stroller, stuff it in my purse and then grab him.  Know where the aircraft symbol and writing is before you get your stuff in order.  You would think that someone would take it to your seat for you but that just has never been the case for me.

The two best tips other than these should be common sense for us moms, but truthfully in a stressful moment often gets lost.  No matter how stressed you get say please and thank you and stay calm.  I usually am chanting in my head "nothing to it but to do it"  if I start to get frazzled.  I always try to wear something reasonably comfy but that I feel stylish and put together in.  May sound weird but it gives me a little more confidence that I am put together and that I got this.  It also makes me feel better to know we at least look cute when the entire terminal stares.  Which they do screaming or not.  So give a fellow mom traveler a smile, a nod or even offer a hand if you are able.  I don't usually take people up on the help but the offer is nice.

If you are interested in the car seat bag you can get it here and lucky for you it is on sale right now.  I paid close to full price and has been worth every penny.  I love a mom not afraid to go it alone, and embarrassingly successful solo mom flights with Leavitt are a major confidence booster for my mom ego.  Happy flying friends!!

No comments:

Post a Comment