Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flying with two under two and a half: there will be spills

 We are headed back to Australia tomorrow after almost two months with people we love in North America.  We have five flights on this trip under our (seat) belts; some have been okay and some have been "Horrible, Horrible" to quote my husband.  I only gave it one horrible but I have a memory that covers everything with nostalgia and fondness.
photo courtesy of my two year old

Here are some things I've learned flying with two babies under 2 1/2:

The less carry-ons, the better.  If you bring the little umbrella stroller for your toddler, he will not stay in it and you will push it empty running after him.  If you tie a "leash" to his little backpack he will not wear it and you will carry that too, while chasing him.  It's possible you will actually leave all of your adult carry-ons at a table accidentally and not realize it until you are halfway through the immigration line.  You may or may not freak out slightly at your husband who was responsible for them.  It's okay, at least you didn't lose the children.

Your son might cry loudly as his beloved car seat slides away on the baggage conveyor belt in Philadelphia.  He may do this in Vancouver as well. Everyone around will worry for him but you can assure them he's just crying about his car seat.

Ergobaby carrier - life saver.  The baby can be on your back very happily while you carry the toddler in your arms.  The Ergo will be your only chance to sleep with your 22+ pound baby sleeping on you.  It's also possible to nurse the baby while you both fall asleep without worrying that you'll wake up completely exposed to the world .... like that one time.  Oops.

If the man behind you offers to hold your 1 year old so she can pound on his computer a bit (and she really wants to do that), go for it–he seems nice and you are right there.  But even if you tell him to be careful of his glass of coke and he says "Don't worry, I have lots of experience", she WILL grab his coke and spill it all over his neighbour's lap.  The neighbour will be good-hearted about it, but that's only because you were flying in Canada.

Your 2 year old will also have a spill, of his water, all over his pants.  The ONE FLIGHT that you don't pack extra pants will be the one flight he spends in his nappy, complaining of how cold his legs are.

best cargo ever
Screaming extremely loud on the plane is inevitable.  It's okay, in small amounts.  (The kids that is, not you.)  Try to stay calm - becoming angry does not help your child fall asleep any faster.  Tell him a story about himself and make up a song that goes along with the story.  Repeat the song 65 times, eventually migrating to a hum, until he falls asleep.

Of special note: Do not get up to pee if he's sleeping with his legs on you.  He will wake up and not go back to sleep for the rest of the flight.

The iPad with a few new TV shows uploaded and toddler headphones will entertain him for hours.  The iPad with adult headphones on the toddler will cause him to yell extremely loudly, "My HEADPHONES MY HEADPHONES!!!!" every six minutes as they slip off of his head.

If you are flying with your spouse or partner, you will probably be annoyed at each other from time to time.  Or most of the time.  Pack yummy treats to cheer yourselves up and forget about it once the plane lands.  

My husband adds:  If you've been holidaying in North America for 2 months, make sure you find some pants that will not cut off your circulation for the flight home.  If you can't bring yourself to buy bigger pants, feel free to unbutton the top button, but use something to cover up as your fly will tend to drift.

Only one more flight to go for us - 15 1/2 hours or so in the air and we are home! Thank you to everyone who made our traveling well worth it!


  1. "his beloved car seat." -- ?!?!? Those words can exist together -- "beloved" and "car seat"?? It's possible for a child to NOT think a car seat was specially designed for his/her deepest misery? Wow. In my dreams.

    I loved this post. I loved the practical advice, the sense of humour, and the dose of reality. Good for you guys. I don't know if I would be so brave.

    1. haha, yes i was kind of surprised by his display of emotion. he was a carseat screamer until about 16 months? in fact, this trip is basically the first time we've driven with our kids for more than about 20 minutes, for that exact reason. they have adjusted, and apparently bonded with their seats. :)

  2. Funny :) well done to u and Chris! Good memories :) xx

  3. Haha- reading this felt like memories being resurrected. Of course the resurrection is much grander and fonder than the actual fact of traveling with toddlers. My now adult kids note that one of the advantages of all those long flights and airport layovers is that upon entering an airport terminal, immigration line, or airplane cabin, they get those warm fuzzies, like that feeling of having arrived "home." I guess they weren't as traumatized as I feared and us parents learned a little humility and patience in the process. Hope the flight home was eventful...ah, I should say uneventful :)

    1. you should be mentoring us in international travel!! :) i wonder if my kids will have good memories from airports. I think it will take us a while before we start too! Our last flight went surprisingly well and jet-lag has been easy on us too. It's good to be home!

  4. oh becca, you have a special talent for making me laugh OUT LOUD! i can only assume that you're able to laugh out loud at these stories as well... even if the memories are a bit fresh? way to have a sense of humor with yourself! A good lesson for all of us! big hug and kiss.

    1. thanks abs - yes we did laugh a bit, tried to hold hands and sneak a few kisses when we weren't annoyed with each other. ;) Jubee was obsessed with unplugging my headphones - as if trying to hold her on my lap and watch a movie wasn't already impossible. ha. can't wait to see you!!!