Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Small Children + Plane = ?

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Start the process of cleaning the house for arrival of parents on Saturday
Grievance: We still have not gotten to the post office, and have no hope of doing so any time soon.
Celebration: Big Love got to sleep all night!

Our family has a trip coming up at the end of the summer. We are going home to Portland to visit our families after not being home for a year and half. I could not be more excited about this. Both Big Love and I are true Portlanders in our hearts, and both of our extended families almost exclusively live in the northwest. I could write about the northwest all day, and why it is the best place in the world to live, but I don't want everyone to move there and ruin the "small city" feel so you are going to have to believe me.

So we are going to Portland. I am making all these plans for us; who we are going to see, what we are going to do, events to plan and to attend, et cetera. Big Love will be there for the first week of the trip, then will return home on his own while the kids and I stay there. This leaves only one forseeable issue with this glorious vacation, that I can think of. The plane trip from Portland back to here.

I can only imagine what it is like to ride on a plane with two children. My only experiences on a plane with Boy Love have been pretty par for the course, I guess. When we first moved away from home, we flew one way. Boy Love had his own seat, and he had just turned one, so he was still sleeping quite a bit. The following Christmas, my wonderful parents got us a plane ticket home. It was only one ticket, so Boy had to sit on my lap, but it was a first class ticket so we had extra wiggle room around us. While first class sounded like an excellent idea in the plan (I won't lie, the free drinks were also a huge selling point), the actual execution was a little bit dreadful. I was that mom that brings her ridiculously loud child on a crowded plane, but this time, I was disrupting all the people that paid a lot of money for their tickets, not just the "lowly" coach passengers. The lady sitting next to me on one of the stretches gave us the stink eye as we entered the plane before departure, then immediately called her lover to complain about the awful ordeal she was about to go through. Both Boy and I cried the whole way through that flight.

I am trying not to think very negatively, but this time I am flying alone with two children under three. We have two seats, one for Boy and one for Baby and myself, but that will be, perhaps, the only positive thing about the trip. Honestly, I am a little nervous. I keep telling myself that it will be one really hard day, but it will be totally worth it to see my family for two whole weeks. I am just imagining, however, that there are going to be a hundred things that go terribly wrong. For example, how in the billy blue blazes are we goign to get through security? My plan is to have Boy in tiny stroller, Baby in baby bjorn, diaper bag slung over shoulder, and car seat in one of my hands somehow. So when I have to go through security, take the children out of their respective carriers, unload my bag, take off our shoes, how am I going to physically walk through the little beeping portal carrying both children? Or get all of our things back together after said beeping portal without losing track of one of my kids? Then come the issue of what to do in the airport while waiting for our flights. Do I just wander about like a mindless idiot? Airports aren't exactly set up to appeal to small children. One of my layovers is over 4 hours long (one of the joys of purchasing the least expensive ticket available). 4 hours! How, for the love of pete, am I going to contain my 3 year old from going completely beserk?

I don't even want to think about the plane ride. Heavens forbid I have to use the bathroom while we are actually flying. I can see it now... The other passengers around us have already tagged us as dreadfully annoying due to the constant crying, maniacal laughter, and steady stream of "Why?" questions coming from Boy Love. I have held my urge to pee for 2 hours now, and cannot hold it any longer. So I have to interrupt Boy Love from his portable dvd player and unbuckle him from his chair. As he writhes free from the straps, I throw on baby bjorn as quickly as a human can, and put Baby Love inside. Grabbing a newly freed Boy by the hand, we must now contort ourselves to creep out of our row. Next, maneuver through the narrow corridor, avoiding beverage carts, rogue feet from the passengers attempting to stretch out, and disdainful sneers from everyone else. Assuming we can do all this and enter the airplane facilities, I have to do the actual act of peeing before Boy and Baby scream/break the door down/empty all storage compartments of their contents. But at least I have provided my impatient neighbors with the ability to sleep uninterrupted for a minute and a half. After that, getting back to the chairs and re-buckled will be a cinch.

For mothers who have done this before, do you have any suggestions to better prepare myself for this imminent disaster? I really don't even know how to start, and I want to be as ready as possible for this, emotionally, mentally, and physically.


  1. Hey Lauren, it's Carolyn. Ok, stop and take a deep breath. If I can fly with 3 kids 3 and under, you are going to do great at this. I will say one thing though, if you don't ABSOLUTELY need car seats on this end, leave it at home. Ash can ride on the plane without it. I used to have this harness system called CARES that turns the plane seat itself into a car seat. When I lost it by leaving it on a flight, the gate agent told me that most airlines don't require car seat for a 2+ year old to fly. That being said, it's up to you on how comfortable you are letting him use the seatbelt alone. And I'm sure I can find someone here with a car seat to loan you. Second, going through security is hell. But if you pack all "kid" foods in ziplock bags and take them out to show the agent, you will get through quicker. I use gallon bags for that, and quart size for meds and the like. Ask at the gate if they will let people with kids board first. If they tell you no, bully your way right behind the first class passengers to get in front of everyone else. Oh, and since you're on a plane and they can't take off with your kid, some women LOVE to hold babies and will glady help you if you can spot the right one. I've even had flight attendents help. so, if you need any more tips, let me know. Your dad thought I might be of help. We should get together when you're here and let the boys play. Jake's always up for company!


  2. Carolyn, you are amazing. See, I knew someone would have some really solid advice, and I am glad to hear from you. I will call the airline and ask about the car seat thing. He is an absolute terror child in situations like this, so it may just be worth it for me to carry the car seat if it means he will be physically contained on the plane. I will have to see a little bit closer to the actual trip. Thank you so much for writing, and we will definitely have a play day when we come!

  3. Also is a blog all about traveling with kids! there's got to be something on there about it!

  4. i have no advice, but reading that just totally stressed me out...

  5. well reading about your little health issues that you have to heal makes me stressed out