Tuesday, September 07, 2010

traveling with a toddler: lessons learned

Four days. Two states away. One seventeen month old toddler.

This is what I should've known:
  • I am of a new generation that doesn't need a wristwatch because I use my cell phone as a watch. If you're going to be traveling by air, it behooves you to go buy a cheap wristwatch. When you're on the airplane you have to totally power off your phone - meaning you are blind with your time perception. This makes an hour flight feel like it takes six times as long.
  • Pack lots of entertainment, but know that the magic of the airplane and airport will provide lots of entertainment and you probably won't use all of what you take with you. I didn't use half of the goodies I packed, but I was glad that I had them. (This includes both snacks and toys.)
  • Spring for the extra seat. The two flights we took to our destination had empty seats and I was able to sit her next to me. This was fantastic, wonderful, magical... but on the way back she ended up in my lap. It wasn't a pretty sight. I think it would've been easily managed if she was still little - not sitting on her own yet - where being held is always a happy place. But with the toddler - uh, no - bad idea. I'd read that other people suggested getting their own seat, but I was sure that wasn't the best idea. I was wrong. Don't make my mistake.
  • If you have a toddler, invest in a kid leash. (especially if you have a lengthy layover) It was nice being able to let her think she was running around, but having some control over where she went. It was a great way to let her burn some energy.
  • Once you arrive at your final destination, don't plan on being busy the whole time. Seriously plan for down time. I messed up with this and paid for it the last day when she screamed and was on my hip most of the day. We will do better for our traveling at Xmas. This will most likely make the people you're visiting frustrated, but their frustrations will be much easier to deal with than toddler frustrations that are exhibited by tired tantrums and the refusal to go to anybody but Mama.
  • Expect changes in the sleep routine. This is different, and for a toddler who is tired, different is scary. Expect it to take much longer to put them down, expect them to wake up multiple times in the night, expect them to wake up earlier, expect them not to nap as well. Even if your angel is a pristine sleeper... Expect the worst so you won't be disappointed if it's bad and you can be pleasantly surprised if your little darling adjusts quickly.
  • Take and plan for healthy meals and snacks so you don't fall into the vacation trap of eating junk. Just because baby's not had Aunt Mildred's pie doesn't mean she needs Aunt Mildred's pie. Even if Aunt Mildred pouts. Try to stick to what routine you had at home so far as treats go.
  • Routine. Routine routine routine. Routine is crack to a baby - take it away from them and they get the shakes and go into withdrawal. If you have them on a routine, do everything you can to keep them on the routine. Don't budge on bedtime or mealtimes.
We had a good visit. She did great, except for the last day. The last day put the terrible in doosey.

I've not recovered from my trip yet and am already daydreaming about my naps this upcoming weekend. And my neck and back are caddywompus from lugging 28 pounds of Baby on my hip throughout the Houston airport yesterday for several hours (which is NOT kid friendly, BTW).

As long as I'm talking about airports, the Nashville airport had a kid play area - one of those petri dishes with foam toys that they can climb and slide off of on top of a padded floor. It was fabulous. Also, the Kansas City airport, although bad, is much better than it used to be. They have tvs and a snack area now. You still have to leave and come back through security to use the restroom, but you can at least sit down in a padded chair and get something to drink.

This has been a Mommy PSA.


Teacher Angst said...

You were in Nashville and didn't tell me??? Grrr....:/

genderist said...

It's not like that. We had no down time (see bullet points five and eight). We didn't see anybody other than family, and even that was too much packed into a few days.