how to fly with a toddler


IMG_8612.jpgWe did it! We are now residents of Austin, Texas. But before I give you all the delicious details of our move, let’s just talk about how we got here. I mean physically. How we moved our bodies, and in particular the body of our 18 month-old which demands to be in constant motion, from New York to Austin.

Let’s back up to the time when at one point we had a plan in place that involved flying with said toddler and beloved dog all on the same flight. Once we realized that there was no combination of legal nor illegal drugs which could make that a possibility, we revised the plan and came up with a new plan: I would fly alone with Luke. And then, thanks to the side eye my mother in law (aka Luke’s “Mimi”) gave us when we told her that plan, we came up with the real plan. Which is how it came to be that Mimi rescued us (and potentially everyone on our flight) from a toddler showdown of epic proportions. I’m not one to brag, but, I have to say, I think we nailed that flight. So, here is some unsolicited advice (it’s really going around these days, is it not?) about flying with a toddler:

  1. Don’t do it. No, but really. Ask yourself, can we avoid this flight? What are all of the alternatives? Is there, perhaps, a horse drawn carriage and buggy option? Because you will definitely be asking yourself that as you stumble your way down the aisle, wiggly toddler in arms, deciding whether it’s better to let him kick an unsuspecting passenger in the head or pull at one of the bags in the overhead bins. Oregon Trail sounds downright dreamy from 36000 ft with a toddler, typhoid and all.
  2. So you’ve decided to proceed? Okay. I did, too. Dress like you would the morning of your first triathlon. I’m talking layers, sweat wicking fabric, a sports bra and a lot of over-thinking of your outfit. If you aren’t sweating (and swearing and possibly crying) before you leave the house for the airport, you are doing it wrong.
  3. Pack a complete change of clothes for both you and your toddler in your carry-on bag. We learned this one the hard way not once, but twice (sometimes you need to be covered in your child’s urine and feces more than once in a public but also very confined place to really soak that lesson up- pun intended).

    The tricks.
  4. Your carry-on bag should make Mary Poppins look like an under-prepared teenager showing up late to their first job. ALL THE TRICKS. BRING THEM ALL. Even the dangerous ones (hi there, play dough from Target that might have been a teensy bit toxic- you kept Luke entertained for three whole minutes and for this we are thankful).

    One of us is asleep.
  5. When your toddler falls asleep for no less than 1 but certainly no more than 15 blissful minutes and your arm has also fallen asleep under the weight of his head but you don’t dare move it- close your eyes, because maybe it will ease the swelling under them. Then, have someone take a picture, and later on LAY into your husband when he looks at this picture and says, “So you both slept on the plane?”

    Exactly, Luke. Exactly.
  6. Bring snacks. Snacks are the key to this whole operation happening with less than 15 meltdowns. On the flip side, however, if one consumes too many snacks (er, raisins), one might fill their diaper, and then you will have to change a diaper on the plane which is a very high risk situation to be avoided at all costs*. To prolong the eating process and slow down the rate of intake, I put cheerios in one of those days of the week pill boxes so he had to open each one to get a snack. Ha! Tricked ya, kid! It may have looked like he was popping pills, but after he’d kicked a few folks in the head and grabbed at the overhead bins, I had gotten over my fear of being judged.  *Note, I’ve changed several diapers on a plane. Those diapers were going on a BABY butt. That, my friends, is not the same as a toddler butt. If you are traveling with a baby butt, by all means, haul that baby and it’s cute little butt to the pulldown changing table and have at it. If you have to change a toddler butt on a plane, clear several rows and ask for back up).

    See that index finger? Do any and all things it directs.
  7. And finally, BYO Mimi. Our Mimi’s real name is Janet and I’d be happy to provide her contact info. She includes services such as: making it possible for you to pee (in the bathroom, rather than your pants), holding the tray table shut when your toddler incessantly tries to rip it from the seat back in front of you and offering her lap as a bottomless vessel for discarded toys. She will even wear your toddler’s earphones while he watches Daniel the Tiger, per his request.
Spreading love… and also so many teensy tiny crumbs on our flight.

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