Thinking about it, 2 years ago I was panicking about flying home with Brendan when he was only 6 months old for Christmas. The reason why I now find it funny is that with the same flight came my sister, her family + the Man. Very different set up when I went 2 weeks ago. Just me, on my own and not only a 2 year old toddler but another 6 months old baby. So we did it and it wasn’t at all scary or painful (tiring, yes ) but a rather manageable experience. So here are the things I did to survive it.
#1 Getting my toddler excited – A week before we flew, we did some “research” together and talked about it a lot. Found books (this and this) with airplanes and airports and went through it all. Brendan is now at the age (27 months) who understanding concept like this and building his anticipation for it was not only exciting but fun. It helped me focus on each stages of the trip and him to know what comes next. I emphasised stages like “mummy will talk to this lady for a minute so please stay close while I do that” when we were checking in for example. It really helped. I made sure to give him enough notice when he has to stay close as I needed to do speak to someone but also got him opportunities to run about a little (in a certain area I can see him), when we were just waiting around. I was going to get him to help me with packing but after a few minutes he left me to it. Now thinking about it, maybe it was a good thing.
#2 Packing as little as possible – It was only a 2 hour 10 minutes flight but for a toddler it is still a long time to be seated. So although initially I thought I will pack the sticker books/ the cars / the tools / the colouring kit / the lot. I settled for 2 books and one sticker book (which we end up not using). I am still trying to be as zero electronics as possible and so far he is not into it. What he is into thought role playing, like restaurant (nursery) with the fold down table / the blinds on the window (time to go to sleep) / the arm rest and I was all over to play along and keep him entertained. I had my backpack which we left under the seat in front of us. All the essentials on the top part of it. Nappies / water / snacks and the above mentioned “entertainment” items. I was able to reach and grab whatever was needed even with Caelan falling asleep in my arms.
#3 Getting an afternoon / evening flight. I know my toddler. When he is tired he just gets quiet and zooms out. So booking a later flight was always going to be a good idea. He has plenty of time during the day to get his energy out and at 6/7 pm when we boarded the plane he was already tired. The last half an hour of the flight he was already in the zone of falling asleep and the same went for Caelan who actually did both ways.
#4 Getting to the airport early. I read about this on different blogs that we need to and I am so glad we did. I have to say 3 hours before our boarding time sounded a bit too much at first but it ended up being a good decision. By the time the taxi arrived to take us we were all geared up and ready to be there. So we arrived 3 hours earlier which then allowed me 2×2 water bottles filing / 1 poo and 2 wet nappy change in a normal size terminal loo / loads of running for Brendan and no stress, I mean nada stress at all.
#5 Last one to board. Brendan was still looking out the big windows and checking out the planes when almost the whole queue disappeared to board the plane. I was in no rush to get onto it. We were the last one to board and it was the best choice. It gave us more time at the terminal to run around and less fuss for people wanting to settle into their seats. As we boarded , almost the whole flight was seated. We found our seats. One person got up. The flight attended took one of our hand luggage I wasn’t going to use to find space for it and we sat down. Pretty much after that the safety demonstration came and we were off. I think it was one of the best decision to make when flying with little people.
#6 Baby carrier. I have talked about why I absolutely can not live without it here – and for this trip it was again a must. I took an umbrella pram (one of those cheap ones that can be bashed around) for Brendan and the bags. But he wasn’t really sitting it so it was perfect for our hand luggage. Caelan was happily sitting in our Liliputi buckle carries. while we were at the terminal. Once we were inside the aircraft and I had 2 hand luggage, a shy and tired toddler + the baby ….so just close your eyes for a second and imagine that… yes, exactly. Baby carrier is a MUST!
#7 Extra bag and loose stuff. Travelling at winter has its “perks”. I was full of small stuff like 3 hats / 3 scarves / 6 gloves. I took an extra canvas bag for all these but ended up using Caelan’s winter all-in-one snowsuit and stuff all our loose bits in there when we were inside. It did look like an additional baby on top of the pram and I did find myself explaining that the outfit doesn’t include the baby when I dropped it and ran the pram across it. Ops. At the end, it was very useful and we didn’t loose anything (or nothing I am aware of). As for passports and documents I used my boots loose style calf area and put all in there so when I needed to access them, they were right there. Love my boots. It was an improvisation so next time when I fly in other types of footwear I might look into getting one of those.
#8 Change position – walk around. Cheap airlines and their planes has such a tiny space to move about but we still had to. After all the overpriced snacks and duty free perfume sell was over we got up and had a little wander. It was only about a 15 minutes walk to the back of the plane and back but it still allowed us to have a break from sitting in our tiny seats with the minimum amount of leg space.
#9 Accepting and asking for help. I think that is important. Although I am very much like “I can do this on my own” type, I am glad in this circumstance I lowered my ego and did accept help. And there was plenty. People are nice and sympathetic to mothers travelling with small children. Flight attendant was holding Caelan why I went into the matchbox size loo with Brendan. A nice man tried to figure out how to close our umbrella pram by the wheels of the plane. A lady next to us didn’t mind being kicked by a toddle. So just go with the flow and smile, accept , say sorry and loads and LOADS of thank you.
I hope these tips were somewhat helpful and not just redundant things everyone already knows. Please feel free to add any tips I may have forgotten below and again thank you for reading.