Tuesday, 24 May 2011

TIWIK - Before Travelling with Kids

So for some reason that I cannot recall at the moment, I spent the majority of this past long weekend dragging my kids halfway across the country.  ALONE.  As in just me and my kids.  And for some strange reason, I thought this would be FUN.  I can honestly tell you that, what with the temper tantrums on the floor in the middle of the airport and having to change poopy diapers in an airplane bathroom during some intense turbulence, I did not encounter fun of any kind during my travels.  However, it did help me compile a list of Things I Wish I Knew Before Travelling with Kids:

1.  Don’t wear anything that you wouldn’t want to get puke on – I remember the days when I always tried to look especially good to go to the airport because there was a slightly higher chance of meeting (or being mistaken for) a celebrity there.  With kids however, I have come to realize that no matter what I wear I will always arrive at my destination looking like a mud-slide survivor who got stuck in a tornado.  This last time when I got off the plane and the people waiting to get on the plane saw me, one of the older ladies actually went up to the stewardess and asked if the plane had acquired any holes in the roof on route, complete with a head jerk in my direction.  Yes, I looked that bad.
I swear it is not my fault.  I am not an incompetent mother who just lets their kids scream and run wild on the plane while I sit back and watch a movie and drink complimentary alcoholic beverages to block out the screaming (though that does sound tempting).  Surprisingly, my kids actual kept the screaming to a minimum this trip (at least compared to the other kids on board).  The reason I end up in such a mess is mainly due to two facts:  (a) trying to keep Simba in one spot for two hours is the physical equivalent of wrestling with an alligator, and (b) the best way to keep Simba still, and not have him scream so much that people start pelting me with their salted peanuts, is to feed him.  However, at some point he starts to get full and then he literally will mush the food around in his mouth, spit it out and play with it.  And the sad part is, if this keeps him quiet I will let him do it.
And yes, on top of all this mess came the puke.  It wasn't bad puke - just the "I am crying so hard I am going to gag and throw up a little" kind of puke.  When we were coming in for the landing and Simba’s ears started to pop he freaked out a bit.  Ok, alot.  And after the description above of how I kept him quiet you can imagine the results.  Luckily, I had learned a lesson before when I flew with Prince to always keep the airsick bags handy and open, so I caught most of it in that.  Most.  My pants caught the rest.
2.  Always accept help - even when it isn’t offered – If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers my hair would be completely gray by now.  The first time I flew with kids, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I had two 50 pound bags of luggage, a carry-on suitcase, a stroller, two car seats, a purse and two children that I had to somehow move all at the same time.  This wasn’t too bad when I was leaving and had family to help me get the luggage checked in, but when I arrived at my destination and realized I had to get it all out to the curb on my own, I had whatever the opposite of a ‘lightbulb moment’ is –let’s call it an ‘ah fuck’ moment.  Thankfully, an amazingly-awesome fellow mom took pity on me and she and her kids helped me haul our shitload of crap out to the car. 
On this trip though, it was the men’s turn to help out.  Sitting behind us were a couple of Dads who were kind enough to play peek-a-boo with Simba for half of the trip to help entertain him.  And the poor guy who got stuck sitting next to us, he did so amazing.  I could tell that he did not have much experience with kids, but despite the screaming, crying and flying food, he was still kind enough to help Prince do up his seatbelt when he tried to escape when during take-off.  Plus, he didn’t say a word when Simba climbed onto his lap, stood up and attempted to pull the hair of the passenger in front of him.  So to all of you amazing peeps out there who saved me some gray hairs – thank you.  And to everyone else, please follow the example of these amazing people and don’t just roll your eyes and comment loudly about how annoying crying babies are – get off your ass and play some damn peek-a-boo. 
3.  Just don’t do it! – If you don’t absolutely HAVE to travel with young children, just don’t do it!  It is always better to get your relatives/friends/business associates to come to you instead.  If they do not understand why it is so much easier for them to travel than it is for you, just send them this post. 
If for some reason you are stuck travelling with kids, whether it be due to a massive brain fart like me or other unfortunate circumstances, here are a few other important tips I have learned the hard way:
- Always bring every kind of medicine your kid could possibly need and put it in your carry-on;
-A laptop and some DVD’s can be a lifesaver on a plane, in an airport, or at a restaurant;
-Have patience with the security officers at the airport when you are trying to take baby food or formula on a plane – they are just doing their job;
-Only attempt to change a diaper in your seat on a plane if you are sure your baby did not go number two;
-Always bring/buy extra snacks for your kids in case the plane is delayed or stuck on the runway;
-Avoid taking car seats with you if you can– it is a pain in the behind and they often get broken.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid some of the crappy travel experiences I have had.  Personally, I am going to print this off right now, as I fear Mommybrain will render me incapable of remembering it all.  And, damn it, I am going to need it soon because I still have to fly back home. 

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