Planning, planning, and more planning. You might think I’m kidding, but I have a plan A, B, and C.
If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to fly with a baby or toddler. But life happens, and more often than not in our increasingly hectic lives, we'll have to fly at one point or another with a little one. I've often had to travel with my children and having set plans and backups in case something goes wrong is essential in ensuring my sanity.
Plan A: The Works
For the Detail Obsessed
This plan is the most extensive, and works the best for me, as I’m very detail oriented and get super stressed when I have little time to plan.
Make sure you have the basics to begin with: food, comforting items, and several readily accessible diapers. More specifically: food (breastmilk, formula and/or baby food - bring whatever your child wants most frequently); comfort items: binkies, favorite snuggly things like blankets or plushies; and diapers and wipes - not just in your carry-on in the overhead compartment, but in your personal bag so you don’t have to muscle through the isles, wrangle your bag from the overhead, and rummage through your belongings to find a necessity. There is nothing that makes me lose my temper more than not having the things I need on hand, so having the very basics within arms reach is essential to prevent a mommy meltdown.
Plan B: The Basics
For the Time-Crunched-Caregiver
We've all been there - going about our every day when a big issue falls in our lap. There's little time to plan, it's often a stressful situation (like an unplanned family event or work emergency), and you're so stressed you just know you’re going to snap at the smallest annoyance.
Take a deep breath. Focus on the basics: food, a change of clothes, and something for distraction, like a favorite toy. Make baby as happy as possible and know that you can always pick up a thing or two along the way, whether at a gas station, in the airport, or even on the plane.
I know not everyone has the cash to purchase things on the fly - heck, I’ve been there more times than I can count - so having a piece of plastic that works for you can be a huge comfort. I know, I know - we don’t want to have to charge things, but in stressful situations like this, knowing I have means to spend a little on extras that make me and baby comfortable make me feel so much more relaxed. So: your child is screaming for their favorite plushie? Sneak in a substitute! “I want my favorite book!” Grab a copy from the book stand - no sweat!
“I Have No Idea What I’m Doing”
This is in quotes for a reason … because I’ve actually said it. Something drastic comes about; for me, it was my father having a heart attack, but it can be any number of things. You have no idea what to do. It’s a helpless feeling. It’s so awful to not know what to do and what’s best for you and your child. As stated above, knowing I can buy whatever I need in a pinch relieves my stress enormously. Additionally, so many cards offer options, like points that give you flight miles or cash back. There are tons of options out there, but I use the Delta credit card, as that’s the airline I use most. It helps me relax knowing that I can sell delta skymiles so I can recoup my losses. You get points for purchases on Delta flights, but also on everyday shopping. So go ahead - get that neck pillow and blanket! Realize that there is only so much you can do and make yourself and your child as comfortable as possible. Practice deep breathing and take heart knowing you’ll get the money back. This makes it so much easier for me to avoid losing my temper.