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Similar to the difference of getting sick pre- and post-baby, there are striking differences when traveling pre- and post-baby. Of course, no one enjoys the long lines and inevitable delays that come with airport travel, especially around the holidays, but there is nothing quite like adding young children to the mix.
The anxiety starts building once the flight is booked with the “infant in arms” asterisk. When our son was very young, we attempted to book flights at the “right” time of day, hoping, praying, he would nap on the plane. He never did. Still, it seems as though every time our children’s’ eyelids start to fall (my husband and I holding our breath as we watch in slow motion) the pilot cranks up the speaker to encourage all of us to “relax and enjoy the flight.” Ha!
Perhaps we are gluttons for punishment; we have flown with our children many, many times. Here are five tips for “infant in arms” newbies:
1. Bring snacks and extra bottles. Lots of them. This is not the time to worry about serving 3 balanced meals a day. Cookies, graham crackers, squeezable smoothies– all good choices. Bring some for yourself too.
2. Embrace the portable DVD player, iPhone apps, and tablet. Again, this is not the time to focus on mental stimulation or the NO T.V. [EVER] before age 2 or you will ruin your child! warnings that are so gleefully highlighted in parenting magazines.
3. You know how airlines always encourage those that need “extra time” to board the plane first? Do NOT do it. It will add at least 30 minutes to the stuffy, crowded environment that so eagerly awaits you. Let your kids run around the gate area, and then board the plane at last call.
4. Consider purchasing a premium beverage (i.e. alcohol) for yourself. Once I got over my fear of judgment (that mother is ordering wine while holding a baby?!), I found a cocktail makes the flight more bearable, even a little humorous.
5. Create a mantra. If all else fails, you can repeat it in your head when the baby wants to wander up and down the airplane aisles for the 5th time. Mine? “This flight cannot last forever. It has to land.”