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Friday, August 8, 2014

How to Fail at Flying with Babies (and Live to Tell)

We're back from vacation! And I would love to share some pics from our trip... but we haven't even looked through them yet! So that will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, I feel compelled to confess write about our flight home to California - in which James and I mostly failed at preparing for a flight with two babies.

It had already been a long travel day. We had to drive from the lake house in Alabama where we had been staying with James' family to my parents' house north of Atlanta (3.5ish hours) to return some things, and then south to the airport (45ish minutes) before even braving Hartsfield-Jackson International itself.

Everything was actually going well as we arrived at the ariport and boarded the plane. The airport wasn't too crowded, we got to go through an expedited security line (didn't even have to take our shoes off!), made it to the gate right on time and boarded early with the other baby-toting families like us.

As we got settled into our seats it started to dawn on me...

Where are Calvin's headphones? 

Wait, these movies aren't free? They were free on our last flight! 

Henry has a poopy diaper. Wait, how many diapers do we even have?

Um. Oops.

Well, learn from our mistakes, friends! Here's where we went wrong!

1. Make sure you, the parents, are totally exhausted to begin with. 
Like I said, we had already been traveling that day. By the time we were seated on the plane, James and I seriously just wanted to sleep. But not our kids! Oh no! They were well-napped and bright eyed! Ready to play!

Starting your flight already tired ensures that any disturbances or mishaps will feel worse than they are and that you, the parents, will have limited reserves to draw from while entertaining your small children for 4+ hours. Good luck.

2. Don't count the diapers in your bag.
You probably have enough. I think. Otherwise you could end up like us, debating which of your two children will get the last diaper when they have both already peed in the ones they are wearing and you've got like 2 hours of flight left. (Yes, Calvin is potty trained... mostly... but we put him in a diaper on the flight since we couldn't guarantee we'd be able to get him to the bathroom at the necessary moment.) (Also, in case you were waiting in suspense, Calvin got it because his was about to asplode with pee. We figured if Henry had a blow out, we'd take that last diaper back from Calvin and give it to Henry. You're welcome.) Then again, I guess this wouldn't happen to families with only 1 kid in diapers!

3. Count on the plane to provide electronic entertainment.
When the babies and I flew out to GA with my mom, she was totally prepared to entertain Calvin with episodes of Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse on her Kindle. She even bought him little toddler headphones.

James and I, on the other hand, did not prioritize entertainment in our packing plan. I had packed a few toys and books, but I totally forgot about Calvin's headphones (so they got left at Granny's house) and I didn't bother downloading any shows. On our flight out, we had been lucky and all the in-flight movies and tv shows were complimentary so I just hoped/assumed that they would be again. How cute. I thought they'd be free. Bless my heart.

4. Don't charge your cell phones.
Both my phone and James' phone were near death when we boarded the plane. I turned mine on a couple of times to take photos, but I didn't want it to completely shut down (ya know, in case of emergency and all that) so I had to leave it off the rest of the flight. And James' phone is a piece of junk that will barely send a text message let alone run a video. So we couldn't even entertain the boys with charming home movies of themselves or with the array of children's books on my Kindle app! #technologyfail #usererror

5. Don't worry about the time difference when you book your flight.
Landing at 8:30 CA time is past baby bed time, but not soooo late, right? Except that they've adjusted to central time while staying in Alabama, so it's actually like landing at 10:30. Which is waaay past baby bed time. Didn't think about that two months ago when I booked this flight. Oh well, they'll be fine right? Right guys??

Ok, so let's say you've taken this sage advice to heart and there you are, like James and I were, staring down 4.5 hours of what-do-I-do-with-these-babies-in-this-confined-space???

Here are some survival tips.

Work with what you've got. 

Calvin was not immediately impressed with my airplane menu - turned - Mickey Mouse boat...
Toys are getting boring? Play with a airplane menu! Not enough snacks? Buy expensive airline snacks or nom some Biscoff cookies care of Delta. Didn't download kid movies? Well, you might get lucky and have free movies, or you might let your kid watch a little Adventure Time with no sound. Get creative.

Channel your inner Raffi.

...but I won him over with my singing!

Or Wiggles. Or Barney. Or Sharon, Lois, and Bram. Whatever. Sing some songs. Do some puppetry. Muster whatever energy you have and play with your kid. I mean, this is what we do as parents anyway right? We were so tired. And 4 hours in a limited space with limited toys takes a little lot more effort than the usual playing-with-our-kids that happens at home. But we made it work. 

Let it go... Let it goooo.... 

At first I was stressed and mad at myself - feeling tired, of course, made these feelings worse. But then I got the idea to write this blog post and suddenly it was all kind of funny. Seriously, who forgets to count the diapers?! James and I actually kind of pride ourselves on being able to figure things out as we go along. Maybe preparedness is not our strong suit. But flexibility is! So I let that mommy-guilt go and went to work entertaining Calvin instead. And everything pretty much went fine. Nothing like the Crying Kid Episode of 2013! The kids still have no idea what slackers their parents are. ;)

Fellow slacker parents - any tips for problem solving in a pinch while traveling??


  1. What a wonderful blog post! You so rock!

  2. Diana, so rock!! Magnificent. Calvin & Henry are so lucky to have you and James, prepared or not. and btw, I wasn't as attentive to entertaining or as creative when traveling long distance.

  3. I just laughed my face off! Not at your expense but at how much I, and all parents out there, have had moment like this. They suck. But you rocked it and wrote about it and laughed about it. Bravo friend!