10 Things People Who Fly With Small Children Will Totally Understand {contributor}

Contributor Julie Forbes is back today, breaking down the realities of flying with small kids. Y’all, I have wanted to cry for her sometimes when I read her adventures of taking 2 littles on long flights all by herself! She’s a total pro, and I have a feeling her sense of humor helps her survive what, to me, sounds awful.

1. That joke of a changing table: 
If you don’t know about the “changing table,” it’s usually in the bathroom in the front of the plane.  You know, that bathroom that you can’t wait in line for.  Instead, you have to sit at your seat, wait for the occupied sign to turn off, and then dart down the aisle before someone else gets there.  Once you finally win the race to the bathroom, you can find the “changing table” over the toilet.  It’s about the size of a skateboard.  I’ve attempted to put both of my kids up there several times.  Each time, they panic and scream.  It’s as if they know, as well as you do, that this contraption was not designed to actually hold a child.  Be certain that while you’re in there, your child will hit the emergency call button that brings a flight attendant running.

2. So long, soft drinks:  
Say good-bye to the days when flights mean that you get to leisurely sip on mini cups of ginger ale or tomato juice (side note: why do people always order weird drinks on planes?).  When the flight attendant pulls up with the drink cart, just tell them to keep on walking.  Because if a drink is put within a foot of me or my children, it will be on the kids, me or the seats within minutes.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll order water, with no ice, a lid and straw.
3. The absurdity of a lap child:
Don’t get me wrong, I love not having to pay for an airline ticket for the first two years of a child’s life.  But once your baby turns 1, they take up so much room on your lap, there’s not room to do anything else.  That tray table is staying stowed in the upright and locked position for the duration of the flight.  Good luck trying to reach anything in that bag below the seat in front of you.  And, don’t even get me started about flying with a lap child while pregnant: that makes for 3 bodies stacked up on one tiny little seat.

4. The eternity of the seatbelt sign:
It never fails, as soon as that sign comes on, my potty-training child says he has to go to the bathroom.  Now.
I once made the mistake of taking him to the bathroom while the sign was on, during take-off.   I got yelled at by the flight attendant and we sat back down.  Sure enough, my son wet his pants before we were free to move about the cabin. 

5. All nutrition rules go out the window: 
I’m very strict about what my children eat.  I’ve even been known to torture them with things like kale porridge for breakfast.  But, when we’re on the airplane, it’s a free-for-all.  Shortbread cookies, cheese nips, pretzels, I don’t care.  When the flight attendant comes by with a basket full of goodies, I’m not about to give a lesson on nutritional food choices and its health benefits.  There are hundreds of ears confined into a tiny space that would be subjected to the toddler fit that would follow.  If it will entertain my children for 5 minutes, have at it.  In fact, letting my kids gorge on processed foods is about the only guaranteed way I know to keep them occupied.

6. The frustration of any change of plans: 
My best friend once got her son to sleep before the flight even took off.  She was so thrilled that she was going to have a nice, easy flight back home.  Then, they announced there was a problem with the plane, and they’d all have to get off the plane, go to another gate and re-board.  She actually started crying.
One time, I was traveling alone with my 1 & 3 year olds on a 7 hour flight on Christmas Eve when the fire alarm went off and we had to make an emergency landing in Las Vegas.  The longest day of my life just got a whole lot longer.  I actually started crying.

7. Unsolicited advice:  
Some sweet lady with good intentions always walks up at some point in the flight and says, “You may want to try nursing the baby during take-off and landing.  It’ll help with her ears.”  I want to respond with, “NO!  Get out!  When was this discovered, and why didn’t someone tell me that on our first 50 flights?”  But, I usually just smile sweetly, and say, “Thanks, I’ll try that.”  I usually don’t have a problem with well-meaning advice, unless I’m tired, the kids are tired and I’m on my 6th hour of trying to keep them entertained in a 3 foot space.

8. Pottying is a group affair: 
Because of my husband’s work schedule, I’m usually traveling alone with both kids.  So, when my 2-year old son would have to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t very well leave my newborn sitting in the seat alone, so we all go to the bathroom together.  People who join the mile high club think they’re flexible?  They’ve got nothing on us.  Picture me holding my newborn daughter, while trying to squat down in front of my son to pull down his pants and put him on the toilet…. all in that tiny little bathroom.  It’s enough to convince myself to never potty-train the other kids.

9. I’ve got baggage, lots of baggage:   
It is astounding how much gear such a tiny person requires.  Take a look at everything I had with me on a recent flight.  That’s a stroller, a pack ‘n play, 2 car seats, and four suitcases.  Granted, we were moving across the country, but a weekend trip wouldn’t have required much less.
Traveling with 2 kids | BabyRabies.com

10.  Short-term memory loss: 
It doesn’t matter how many mid-flight vows I make to never fly with children again, I always end up booking another trip.

Make sure you like Julie’s page on Facebook to follow along as she navigates life through her 3rd pregnancy. 

50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
Available now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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  1. You are my hero! I took my 18 month old daughter on a 4 hour flight and it was the worst time in my whole life. It was the worst time in anyone’s lives on that plane. She was “that” baby that everyone hates. I made the mistake of putting her in my lap because that was free. Oh there’s a price to pay for that, let me tell you! I kept plying her with milk hoping she would go to sleep. She just ended up overflowing her diaper, where else, but on my lap. Forget about a meal or any real sustenance. She finally fell asleep, as the plane was landing! People were nice and tried to help. They may have been a little scared of me though because I was not at my best – tired, hungry, sore, frustrated… but we made it home in one piece and we now have that bond forever. There really should be a law against people flying with 18-month olds…

  2. YES! I totally understand. Especially the fitting 3 bodies in the bathroom at once. Such a skill.
    And I agree with the nutrition rules. Strict at home, any thing goes on the plane! Survival first.

  3. This sounds scary! I am about to take a 5 year old and a 3 1/2 year old on their first flight in the spring. I am scared out of my mind! You give me confidence that I can do it- since you can make it work with youngin’s.

  4. Padded Tush Stats on

    And this is why I have vowed that I will not fly with my children until they are old enough to fly by themselves 😉

  5. Those changing tables are a joke! I took my first child into the restroom to change a really stinky diaper. He was only 10 months old at the time and he was tall enough that his legs (from thigh to foot) did not even fit on the changing table. I am surprised we didn’t end up with poo smeared on the wall.

    My second child has been very ‘spirited’ from the beginning. I am too scared to take him on a plane. He would last 5 minutes in a lap before he got bored, wanted to run around and then start whining because he can’t.

    and +1 to the #2 sidenote. The only time I ever drink ginger ale is when I fly. Don’t even get motion sickness either. I don’t know what it is…

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