The Trauma of Travelling with Children

Air travel with children has become absurd! If you are traveling alone or with another adult, the hoops you have to jump through to travel are no big deal. You can survive with one suitcase and a carry on. You can buy your bottled water once you make it through security and taking off your shoes and coat is a irritable inconvenience, but managable. With kids, its all a nightmare. I used to love to travel and I am not afraid to travel alone with my 3 children. I do it once or twice a year, sometimes across the country. But, it continues to get increasingly more ridiculous.

I took my cousin to the airport this week. In attendance: me and my pregnant cousin, her 13 month old, my 2 1/2 yr old and my 5 yr old. We also had a purse, backpack, car seat, carry on bag, 2 HUGE suitcases and a stroller. So, my 5 year old pushed the baby in the stroller, I carried my 2 year old on my hip in the ergo, while my cousin and I each pulled heavy suitcases and carried bags and the car seat. (and this was traveling light, because I lent her my pack n play and high chair and toys while she was visiting me). I'm sure we were a sight. This used to be the extent of the pains of travel with children. But, not now. No, lugging everything into the airport is the easy part.

Once we got inside, one of the suitcases was "overweight" by 5 lbs, so we had to sit in the aisle and transfer things from one suitcase to the other while still shepherding children. My cousin had already paid $55 to check the suitcases, so we weren't about to pay the $100 fee because her bag was 5 lbs overweight! We had to do this...twice, because we transfered too much the first time. All the while, people were looking at us like we were inconveniencing them, but you can read here on my opinion of people judging my parenting skills.

While packing for the airport, we had to ensure that we had enough snacks and food for the baby, but we couldn't have liquids over 4 oz. So, there is no way to warm a bottle, unless of course, you have time in your 1 hr layover to get from one terminal to the next and stop in the bathroom to run the bottle under the hot water faucet for 20 minutes. Oh wait, the faucets are all electronic, so that won't work. Maybe if you buy the cold water bottle first thing, it will be room temperature by the time your plane is landing and the baby is starting to get restless.

But, first, you have to make it through security. So, once you take off everyone's shoes and coats and emptied the matchbox cars from your kids pockets, and put each bag, alone, in one of those nifty little containers all while folding the stroller and putting it through the x-ray machine too, then you have to walk one by one through the metal detectors, all the while repeatedly telling your kids to stay put and not run off towards to cool escalators. As you are putting everyone shoes back on, you are cursing yourself for letting everyone wear their tie tennis shoes and not the slip ons and even though you arrived two hours early, after the zoo of check in (seriously- they only have one person manning the 5 self check in desks. what's up with that?) and security, you are running late- so you try and get everyone to sprint for the gate. Yeah right. 5 years olds only sprint for the wii or a slide.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the security measures. I'd like to be safe while I travel, but I can't help but wonder if the great inconveniences I suffer in excess charges and frivolous regulations are paying for the Airline CEO's 5th home, or maybe his wife's 7th lipo.

I recently heard of a European airline, Ryanair, who is charging its passengers a $1 to use the bathroom. Can't you just hear that conversation?

"Excuse me ma'am, my son needs to use the loo."
"No problem miss, that will just be a dollar."
"On second thought, he should be okay, but can you pass me that empty bottle? I'll call you when I'm ready for you to pick up my trash."

Whaddya think?


It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. A Kind Village.

Once upon a time I was the mother of one (and only one) adorable, well behaved little boy. I was visiting with a friend, who had 3 adorable yet busy, little boys. She was telling me how her first child NEVER ate leftover, forgotten food that had fallen to the floor, she was appalled when her second child occasionally found the food that fallen to the floor, but it seemed that it was her third child's regular snack.
I. was. Appalled.
Seriously? Your child eats food off the floor???!!! How could a parent do that?

I would see parents in the store with a misbehaving child and think, "Why are they handling it that way? If only they would do X or Y, they would be much better parents"

And then, I had my second child. Who was a dream baby. One day I was in the store with my two children and my oldest started this great temper tantrum because I wouldn't buy him a new .97 matchbox car and suddenly I was the one being judged. Not that it affected me much even then; I just told the judgmental lady off and went on my way. It's not like it happened all the time, I had two very well behaved little boys.

Then, I had my third child and my life of well behaved children was a memory of the past. My 3rd child was my first child who: didn't sleep well, cried all the time, wanted to he held all the time, screamed bloody murder when riding in the car, was stubborn, cranky and obstinate. I called Poison Control numerous times and shopping with him was an absolute nightmare. Add to that, that he was so rambunctious that he had stitches by 17 months and he had to get glasses, which were another battle, at 19 months. He alone, exhausted me. He threw temper tantrums all the time, refused to eat healthy foods and got into everything. And I suddenly found myself, the mother who was being judged, all the time. The older mothers in the store looked at me with sympathy and the younger mothers looked at me like I was doing something wrong. I became the mother I once judged.

Why? Why do we do this? As a parent, don't we just want what is best for our children? I looked really hard for the rule book on how to raise the perfect child, but it’s just not out there. We are all just trying our best, and sometimes it simply comes down to trial and error. So, next time you retrieve my runaway child in the grocery store (which is bonus point #1 for you- 2 year olds usually don't shop alone, so yes, that is a runaway child), I would appreciate it if when you brought him back and I say "thanks", you'd simply smile and say "you're welcome" (that will earn you bonus point #2). And when I see your child kicking and screaming on the floor, I will most certainly give you my best look saying, "Hang in there Mom, you're doing an awesome job". Even if I don't agree with how you are handling it. Because the simple fact that you are trying, means you are doing an awesome job.

Whaddya think?