Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some thoughts on flying with young children

Sometimes I'm shocked at how much my life has changed since having children. I used to fly to British Columbia and Alberta all the time and I loved the traveling. I loved reading magazines and new books, wrapping myself in a big scarf and watching a movie. The thing that puzzles me about these memories is that I used to treasure these four or five hours by myself because...why? I wasn't married, I didn't have children. As a student I was I by myself all day long. Of course many people without children have busy lives and stressful demands on their time, but me? I just had papers to write, and the occasional class to teach. I had plenty of alone time.  Now? If I get a chance to pee by myself I'm having a good day.

Now I have two sidekicks. They are by my side from the moment we wake up until, well, just sort of all the time. I'm still a parent at night, like when Alyce calls for me multiple times a night when she just can't settle into a restful sleep, as she's done the past couple of nights. Shira would prefer to just crawl inside my clothes, but she'll accept me carrying her on the outside most of the time. If I'm eating they want to share, if I'm talking to Matt they want to know what and how and why I'm saying the things I do.

Our trip to Vancouver last month took flying out west to a whole new level. It was just the three of us and we took the plane by storm. I made a few advance preparations (like filling my bags with dollar store treats of new crayons, stickers, teeny tiny safari animals, and smarties) and then we were on our way. Alyce was big enough for her own seat, but in order for Shira to fly free she had to share my lap. Oh, we managed just fine (see above, re: always trying to climb inside my clothes). When we arrived on the plane we received both sighs and smiles. Before flying I had decided not to care about what other people thought of my traveling family, not wanting to spend my flight worrying about other people. We settled in and I quickly pulled out my secret weapon.

No matter what opinion people have of breastfeeding a toddler, no matter how uncomfortable the idea makes them, any airline passenger becomes an instant supporter of a breastfed baby. I could feel the plane give a collective sigh of relief when I unsnapped my nursing bra. Oh, how lovely. This little one won't be crying during take-off. Isn't breastfeeding lovely? I think they would have even supported me nursing Alyce, who hasn't nursed in two years. I think I could have passed around breastfeeding pins to every passenger on that plane.

We had a few moments of frustration on the plane, but mostly it was a great trip. Alyce and Shira coloured, snacked, and covered each other in stickers. I even read five pages of a book. I can't remember the last time I did that with children on my lap. If you have a trip planned in the your future and you'll be traveling with young kids, know this: some things might get in the way (like sickness or tantrums), but for the most part its not so bad. Take it for what it is (not the plane ride of your youth) and ask them to pass the smarties.

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