This guest post was written by our founder's husband and charismatic father of 3.
When traveling with kids, anything that can be stressful, will be stressful.
The twins are now a year and a half (or 20 months if you’re that parent), which means I can finally get back to doing something I enjoy: writing pithy blog posts pretending to be an expert parent. Back in 2015, I mentioned traveling with kids is ridiculously complicated and stressful, but I failed to understand the added bonus of my fellow passengers.
I’ve compiled snippets from a few flights over the past year from family vacations and the holidays, highlighting where travel can get stressful. Picture this as you read these stories: we have a preschooler, year-old twins, 2 large suitcases, 1 small carry-on for blankets and coats, a stroller, three car seats, purse (with a ToteSavvy of course), and a laptop bag. We’re exhausted just getting to the front desk.
The Snapchatter and the Mover
In the past, I’ve been the guy who rolled my eyes or heavily sighed when seated next to a baby. But I have also been the guy who played peek-a-boo and made the kid laugh through the flight. One recent flight, a preschool teacher was seated next to me when I was assigned to Theo (Twin A) duty. The teacher was very nice and explained she loved kids. However, she then Snapchatted a story that read: “In a middle seat, fiancéis in first class, and stuck next to a damn baby! FML”. (Yes, I can read screens from one seat over and I’m not ashamed). It was a bit funny, but not as funny as a guy on a different flight who immediately upon seeing us in the row behind him, got up, turned around, flagged down the flight attendant and begged to be moved. See ya later!
Our next flight was headed to a family vacation to get some rest and relaxation (my inner voice is laughing right now because, you know, 3 kids under 4). Given the zone defense we now have to play being outnumbered 3 to 2, Lauren and I have to have a game plan. For this trip, Jackie (our preschooler) had a movie, Theo and Alexa (our twins) were due for naps in our arms, and we had snacks for days. Almost too perfectly, Alexa falls asleep in my arms an hour into the flight. Literally, less than 5 seconds later, Jackie turns to me and says at a volume much too loud, “I have to poop!” We’re in row 27, middle of the plane, so she can’t go by herself. I stood up very carefully so I don’t wake Alexa and walk with Jackie (and Alexa in one arm) to the bathroom, opened the door one-handed, cram myself into the bathroom with Jackie to be there for moral support, and wait for the deed to be done. Good to go? Ha! Jackie demands that I wipe her because she’s scared of falling in the toilet and then out of the plane. Mother *&^*#er. I gently move Alexa into a football hold with my left hand, grab TP with my right, and somehow aid my daughter’s post-poop process in one wipe. Alexa remained asleep and I earn another Dad Badge: MVW (Most Valuable Wiper).
Release the Kraken!
Same trip about 30 minutes later, Alexa wakes up with the full force of a possessed demon. Arms, legs, head all flailing in different directions. She kicks Jackie’s full carton of chocolate milk off of the tray table. I see it all in slow motion, I try desperately to catch it before it soaks everything in sight. Miraculously, it does a full flip and lands upright, not spilling a drop. Day saved! Don’t get too excited, after grabbing the carton of milk and handing it to Jackie, I elbow a full container of pre-cut grapes off of the tray and spill every last one onto the floor.
Have you ever shushed a baby that wasn’t yours? Me neither. On a flight when the twins were under a year, they were laughing and squealing happy sounds. The lady in 24B Shhhh’d us every time they’d laugh or peep.
(it went on for 4 hours)
I’ve heard the stories about parents bringing gifts to pre-apologize for their kids behavior on flights. I think this is bullshit. I’m in more hell than you are, anxious that they’re bothering everybody, praying they don’t have a meltdown, sweating because I’m holding them the entire time. They’re kids, they will cry a bit, they could whine for a minute, but I will be a parent and do my best to feed, hold, comfort, or scold as needed. What I definitely don’t need is to hear this exchange two rows behind me:
Flight Attendant (after seeing a passenger hit the call button): How can I help you sir?Ass-hat: You can get me some Scotch tape for that kid’s mouth to shut her up!
The hair on my neck and arms shot up. He’s not talking about Alexa is he? She’s been a bit fussy, but nowhere near the nuclear talent she’s unleashed on us. And certainly not bothering anybody to the extent where scotch tape is considered.
Flight Attendant: I’m sorry sir, but she’s really not being that loud. Can I offer you some ear plugs?
Ass-hat: I don’t want any damn ear plugs, I want her to be quiet!
Flight Attendant: I could also offer headphones so you could listen to a movie.
Ass-hat: I don’t want to listen to no movie, I want to sit here in silence! Do you have a feedback form I can fill out.
Flight Attendant: You can visit www.airlinehere.com but you’re being completely unreasonable.
She made a point to tell us how well behaved the kids were and to ignore the grumpy old man. I don’t understand how you could be so upset on a flight TO HAWAII, but I resisted my instinct to curse him out and instead hovered by his row when Alexa had a fresh poop.
These snippets of stories prove that there is no such thing as a “stress-free” flight with kids. One thing is for sure, to travel with kids you either need to be crazy or have a good sense of humor (or have both!)