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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

You'll Never Be Cleared For Takeoff (when you have a toddler)...

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We've all been there. On that flight, with the tantruming toddler. We think terrible thoughts that we don't want to admit, like how we want to throw the baby off the plane, or punch the mom in the throat. But then, that little voice inside reminds you that you're a mom, too. While my unpredictable toddler is seemingly happy on the plane today (thanks to 3 jelly donuts, the luggage tag we found under the seat, and a brand new box of markers that we're all now wearing), we've had plenty of knock-down, drag-out tantrums in the middle of the Target parking lot, in line at Stop & Shop, during security clearance at the airport, and of course, on the last leg of our flight. That's when Super Mom comes to the rescue... she's the one who instead of snarling at you offers a funny face, a purple lollipop from her mom-bag (because the red one you offered just won't do), or just a smile and a sigh of understanding. It's like mom-code for "Stay strong, sister!" Just beware- toddlers smell fear and they know when to attack. Don't let your guard down when you see her cute face and initial excitement with the airplane. It's a trap.

My advice to get through it? Own it. My child who was cute and sweet 10 minutes ago is now possessed by a demon. Yes, I know she is awful and I, too, want to throw her off the plane. But, like all of the other people around me, I've (over)paid for my seat. I'm not enjoying this in the least. While you can simply turn up your music, order a drink, and curse me under your breath, I'm stuck here in my seat, toddler on my lap (even though I have also overpaid for her seat, she has decided my lap is more suitable). I'm sweating, nauseous, panicked, and feeling completely helpless as my child throws Cheerios and whacks me on the face with her "BearBear" for the umpteenth time (which, for the record, has REALLY hard eyeballs). Just so you know, I really AM sorry that she is kicking your seat every 12 seconds, but trust me, her knee on my bladder (which is full because I can't even think about using the bathroom), is much, MUCH worse. Can you just be thankful that you're not in my shoes at this moment?

So, moms, unless you're prepared to use Benadryl (not recommended, but we've all thought about it), I wouldn't readily sign up for a 4 hour flight unless you're prepared to be a warrior. A good test would be to strap your toddler in her high chair facing the dryer (when it's running), sit in close proximity with nothing but a cup of Cheerios and an iPad playing Sesame Street (on mute, because the dryer will drown out the sound anyway), and wait it out. After 30 minutes (if you can even last that long), unstrap your child from the high chair, and proceed to carry her, along with her car seat, a suitcase, your mom-bag, and the stroller up and down the stairs a few times (because remember, the flight is the easiest part... once you get there, well, that's a whole different story). If you're still standing after all of this, you can consider booking a flight to the next state over. Don't even THINK about the D word, because IF you survive the plane ride (that's a big IF), you're going to be so worn down that Mickey might end up being a victim of your throat punch after the third time you've heard "Have a magical day!" Trust me, it can get ugly.

Then again, if you're crazy, like most of us moms, you'll book said flight anyway, because you have visions of unicorns and rainbows on your vacation. You'll buy a cute little suitcase that you'll fill with enough snacks and activities to entertain herds of children on the plane. Just remember that it's inevitably what you DON'T pack that your toddler wants. If you do what I do and set really low expectations (as in, I won't lose my child in the airport or throw her off the plane), you can't possibly be disappointed. Learn meditation techniques, even though they will prove to be quite useless. Bring 10 sets of ear plugs (trust me, it's not overkill), 4 pacifiers (1 for you and 3 for her), and the family-size bag of Doritos (the messier the snack, the more appealing). The light at the end of the tunnel? A nap (for her, maybe, if the force is with you) and a stiff drink (for you and the 10 people around you).

Vacation? Yeah, right. Let's call it a kid-cation. Definition: an overpriced, exhausting, and overwhelming experience. The ironic part is that when you take a kid-cation, you are bringing along the exact thing you're trying to escape from, all the while hoping it's going to be different! Best of luck, mama! Don't say I didn't warn you...

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