Flying with a Toddler: Five Tips for Mom

Yesterday I posted about tips to help make travel easier for your babe. But, what about Mom!? Here are five things that I’ve learned from trial and error the few times I’ve flown with my daughter alone.

  1. Yoga pants are a curse. Listen. Chances are when you are flying with a toddler or even more than one child (God bless you), you will have said child hanging off of you in the bathroom stall. The first time I flew with Adaline alone I was wearing a comfy pair of yoga pants. Ladies, by the time I got those pants down, peed and then struggled to stretch them back up WHILE holding my daughter… I was drenched in sweat like I had just run a marathon. Never again. Today I’m wearing comfy pants that I can pull up and down one handed with ease.
  2. Keep it to one bag if possible. I fly Southwest for 99% of the flights I take so I can check two bags for free. Last time I flew, I checked a bag and then carried an additional bag as well as Adaline’s diaper bag while wearing / carrying her. It was a mess. This time I opted to check one big suitcase and carry one bigger backpack that still is small enough to be a carry on. Whatever you can condense, do so! The less you have to juggle the easier your trip will be.
  3. Direct flights. If at all possible get a direct flight. I personally am willing to pay more, within reason, to have a direct flight. The fewer times I need to wrangle a toddler in and out of a plane the better.
  4. Use your bathroom breaks wisely. I’m not suggesting you let yourself get dehydrated, but if you are like me and can’t even fathom trying to go to the bathroom in the teeny tiny restroom on the plane, plan when you will pee. I have found it to be helpful to go right when I get to the airport and right before boarding. I try not to drink too much during this time and save water for the plane. This way by the time I’m about two seconds from wetting myself it’s about time to get off the plane and I can go in the destination airport.
  5. Smile at any judgy, clearly have never spent time around a child haters and treat yourself to a glass of wine on the plane. Keep in mind if everything seems to be falling apart, this moment is temporary. Traveling is stressful even for the most put together moms. I assume so anyway, I am certainly not in that category.

Share with me how you make traveling with a toddler a little less stressful on yourself!

Five Tips for Flying with a Toddler

Tomorrow Adaline and I are headed to Texas to visit my husband. We will be taking about a 3 hour direct flight.

Oh boy. Let me tell you my anxiety is already as high as the plane about it. This will be the second time I’m flying alone with her. We made this same trip in May. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

First things first. Let’s just rip the bandaid off. Traveling with a child is hard. You can do all the things and it can still be a total mess. So just keep in mind if your flight is going every way but how you hoped. It is temporary! It seems to be never ending, but you won’t be stuck in that flying tube forever.

I always stress about how crying may affect those around me. Truthfully, I’ve never had anyone give me the stink eye. Anyone who judges clearly has never been around a child before. So my first and most important tip. Do your best to remain calm even when you are frustrated and tired. If someone throws you a stank face. Give them a smile.

The first time Adaline flew she was about 4 months old and we flew from Ohio to Arizona. Just shy of 5 hours. She needed a nap during this flight. This was the breaking point. It was so loud she couldn’t sleep. Everytime I’d get her down an announcement would come on. She would wake up and scream. Now that Adaline is older she only takes one or two naps a day. So we try and fly before or after she needs a nap. A lot of moms suggested to me before that first flight to try and fly when she would sleep. You know your child better than anyone. If they are the type of kid who can sleep through anything. Then fly during their nap or bedtime. Problem solved. If your child is like mine, read on.

Here’s what I did last flight and what I’ll add on this flight.

  1. I wore her in the airport and timed our arrival so she would nap on me BEFORE we had to be on the plane. She didn’t take a super long nap, but it was enough that she didn’t need to sleep during our three hour flight. I’ll be doing this again tomorrow with fingers crossed.
  2. Snacks. All the snacks you can think of that they might want. I had no issues bringing snacks and a sippy cup of milk. Nothing makes a toddler rage more than being trapped in a too small seat and being hangry.
  3. New toys! Before our last flight I purchased a few new toys that I could easily stash in her diaper bag. It helped to keep her occupied a little longer since they were novel. I searched for “Montessori” toys as they are open ended and can keep a child focused longer. This time around I bought a new coloring book and crayons since she’s been all about coloring the past few weeks.
  4. The tablet. I know screens are a touchy subject with some. I’m the first to say, they should be used sparingly. Adaline gets to watch videos on my kindle during traveling only. This includes longer car rides and of course flying. It keeps her distracted for long periods of time and it’s worth it for my sanity! If you have Netflix or Amazon Prime you can download videos to your tablet so you can watch them without wifi.
  5. Adaline is still nursing a few times a day. So I attempt to get her to nurse during take off and landing to help with the ear pressure, but she usually doesn’t nurse long enough. So last time I cupped my hands over her ears and it seemed to help somewhat. I was given a suggestion by a friend to try and put sound reducing ear muffs on to help with this. I will be trying this tomorrow!

I’m ways open for some new ideas and tips for traveling with kids. Tell me what has and hasn’t worked for you!

Slowing Down Childhood

Nothing makes the days stretch on and months fly by more so than being a mother. Some days seem endless. Yet somehow, you shut your eyes one night and the next day you wake up and another season has passed.

Before I was a parent and even the first year, I was always thinking about what comes next. Always looking forward to what laid ahead. Not always appreciating the chapter I was in. This is so easy to do when stores put out bathing suits in January, Halloween candy in July and Christmas decorations in October. Target needs to just chill!

The first year of Adaline’s life, I would find myself saying, “I can’t wait until she rolls over… crawls…walks…sleeps through the night (she still doesn’t do that, so ha on me).” or “I can’t wait to dress her up for Halloween, Celebrate her first Christmas” and so on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about things in the future and looking forward to them. That’s part of the fun of being a parent.

Here’s the thing. When my daughter turned one, it was like a slap in the face. Somehow through the sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, long nights and endless snuggles and love a year flashed by. It made me wonder. Did I spend enough time relishing each moment of that first year? Or was I too focused on what comes next. Too focused, and let’s be real, stressing about whether or not she was doing things on time and whether or not I was parenting correctly per the books I read. (That will be an entire post by itself one of these days).

After her first birthday in April, I made a mental challenge with myself to truly appreciate our current seasons and chapters. Changing my language from, “I can’t wait until…” to, “I love how right now we can…”. It made this Spring and Summer so enjoyable. Not that we wouldn’t have had a wonderful time anyway. But, I am constantly making an effort to notice the little details of each day and it’s helped me to appreciate the beauty in the mundane.

This Spring, I marveled at how the blossoms came out. I relished walks with my three girls, Adaline has two fur sisters. I was able to watch the trees go from bare, to blossomed to full of green leaves. See the grass turn from brown to green.

This Summer, I have loved playing in the yard. Finding shade under the trees. Looking at how the different trees and their leaves look when the breeze is blowing. Gingko trees are the best I’ve decided. I love the way their leaves seem to shimmer when the wind blows. I’ve sat and just paused and thanked God for blessing me so abundantly while Adaline colors with chalk. Something so simple, yet so beautiful that I get to experience.

These are things I would miss if I continued to constantly obsess about milestones and focusing on what my daughter isn’t doing yet. By the way she’s met all of them in her own time and it’s been wonderful. I would have missed these minute, but mighty details of our days if I was stuck only looking into our future.

I encourage you to pause for just a moment today and really soak in everything going on around you. What do you hear, see, smell? What is your child doing today that is just amazing? I’d love for you to share with me what you are loving right now, today!

This is a girl who knows how to live in the moment.

I will never…and now I do: Mother Edition

Prior to having kids, you look at other parents and you may scoff. You roll your eyes at the disarrayed hair and makeup, the sweat pants. You say to yourself, “I will NEVER be one of THOSE parents”. I like so many women before me, had a list of all the things I would never do. Well, I’m here to tell ya you can just throw that list right out the window.

For your enjoyment, here are five things I said I would never do and now do with zero second thoughts.

1. Sweat pants and crocs as appropriate attire for running errands. You betcha! In fact, when you squeeze into your “nice” pair of yoga pants, you will feel quite fancy. Put on a pair of jeans and you will feel like you are dressed to go to Cinderella’s ball!

2. Lay in bed unable to fall asleep while singing, “Johnny, Johnny, Yes Pappa” or any other random children’s song at nauseam. In fact, you will constantly have children’s songs running through your head. Not only this, but you will find you actually start to have favorite children’s YouTube nursery rhyme channels. My personal favorite is Dave and Ava.

3. Hide your child’s favorite book after reading it for the 17th time so they have to pick another one. In reality, you don’t even need the book though, because you can recite “The Pout, Pout Fish” from cover to cover by memory.

4. Use your shirt, your pant leg, the back of your hand, anything but a tissue to wipe your child’s nose, mouth, hands and whatever else is necessary… because why are the tissues and wipes always out of reach!!??

Become a pro at scooping your child up mid toddle to sniff their butt for a poop check. Speaking of poop, you will obsess about it. Does my baby poop often enough? Is it supposed to be that color? Does my baby poop too much? What about this texture?

Alright mommas, share with me all the “I swore I would NEVER” things you do ( I have more, but didn’t want to write a novel)!

Lonely as a Mother

Loneliness. That’s what I feel as I sit here alone in my daughters room.

We just spent almost two hours working together to get her to sleep in her crib. I find it so disheartening how our sleep is right now. Just a few short months ago we could go through our bedtime routine, I would plop her down in the crib and she would fall asleep. When she’d wake up in the night, we would nurse and go right back to bed.

Then the first molar started coming in, back in May which feels like three years ago instead of three months ago. Since then she has gotten five more teeth and is now working on two more molars. I know it’s the shortest of chapters in her childhood. I know everyone goes through this.

What nobody tells you before you become a mother is how lonely these seasons can feel. How exhaustion will make you question everything. You will feel like a failure as a mom. You will feel like you are doing absolutely everything wrong. I’m her mother, shouldn’t my presence alone be of comfort?

Some nights, you will feel so lonely in it all. Even though rationally you know thousands of moms are struggling in the trenches with you right now. I’ve never felt more alone, frustrated and disheartened than when I’m in my daughters room struggling to help her sleep.

I have no qualms about rocking her, co-sleeping with her or giving her what she needs during the night. Part of my parenting philosophy includes tending to my child’s needs during the night. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean she suddenly shouldn’t need me for 12 hours straight . But, wow, can the late hours feel lonely.

I write this to feel some catharsis, because alone in her room I have no one to release the emotions that want to erupt out of me. Maybe some commiseration with other moms (and dads) who are in the trenches too can read this and know you may feel lonely, but you aren’t alone. Just like all the hard seasons, eventually this one will fade away and be but a faint memory.

Simply Simple

Nature is pleased with simplicity. And nature is no dummy. -Isaac Newton

The other day I was sitting in my front yard with my daughter. She was playing in our water table, our two dogs were tied up to the tree we were seeking shade under. A gentle breeze was blowing and I could hear a neighbors wind chimes. It was a picturesque summer afternoon. If I could think of one word to sum it up. Simple. It was simple. No fancy games or electronics, we weren’t on some grand vacation. Just easy, simple fun.

This got me to thinking. There is so much pressure to create these insanely memorable summers, every summer for our kids. Pressure to plan these extravagant trips and vacations, never mind if it’s in your budget or not. Social media will try and convince you that unless you make a bunch of “special” memories with your kids, they are missing out. I don’t buy it. Of course I want to plan and have fun trips with Adaline and any future children we have. What I won’t do, what I refuse to do, is buy into the illusion that I need to make extravagance the focus of my children’s childhood.

Is this actually what our children need anyway? Do they need for you to constantly be stressing and attempting to create these lavish experiences? Or, would they benefit more from your focus. Your closeness. Your undivided attention every day while enjoying the simplicity of togetherness? My best memories of childhood are the simple moments my parents gave me their time. Sitting with my dad on the front porch and “helping” him to carve a wooden boat. Going to the library with my mother. The memories may be blurry, but I remember clearly how they made me feel. I hope to give this same gift to my children.

A few of our favorite things. Playing with chalk, playing in the water table, looking at leaves and when all else fails, playing in the dirt is always a hit!

I’d love to hear your favorite ways to spend time with your family!

Scared as a Mother

I shared this on my Instagram a few weeks back. I was thinking about this day again this evening and felt called to share it on my blog as well. My prayer is that someone will see this and it will be the sign they need to go and learn first aid.

Originally shared on July 13, 2019.

Tuesday morning I had the scariest moment of my life. Adaline and I were eating breakfast at the table together; eggs and biscuit. Next thing I know, I glance up from my own plate to see how she’s doing and her face is bright red with tears streaming down her face. That look will forever be burned into my brain. She was trying to cough and I kept encouraging her to do so while getting her out of her high chair. She was able to cough a few times but then stopped being able to cough or make any noise. I immediately flipped her over and upside down. I didn’t even take the time to sit down.

Boom. Boom.

Two blows to her back and a wad of biscuit flew out of her throat to the ground. Which my chocolate lab Mabel immediately ate. Useless mutt.

I’m so thankful I was still at the table with her. Sometimes I’ll wash dishes while she eats if it’s something I’m confident she doesn’t need help with. Like biscuits, which she’s been eating for months now.

I am SO thankful I have to be CPR certified for work. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve gone to take a training on my own. As mom’s we always have a million and one things to do and it’s too simple to say, “Oh I’ll do that next month”. Next month could be too late.

I encourage all of you parents, grandparents, anyone who is spending time with kids. Please go get trained. This could have ended so badly. By the time emergency responders would have arrived she would have gone way too long without adequate oxygen. It only takes a few minutes. I am ridiculously paranoid and careful with her food, yet, she still chocked.

I hope you never have to use any type of first aid on your child, but you need to know how. Because I am trained I didn’t panic in the moment. Granted, it was at least 30 minutes before my adrenaline chilled out and I had multiple nightmares Tuesday night. But my baby is safe.