We’re on holiday!
While my husband and I were desperately excited to get away for a bit, we were also very anxious about the flight. We’ve flown several times with our son before, but being on the verge of turning one year old, we had the distinct feeling that this particular flight was going to be an absolute nightmare. At this age, our son is between being a baby and a toddler, and as such needs almost constant attention to be keep him both entertained and safe. He is very mobile, very busy, very strong and also very opposed to napping. Eight hours in a confined space, well, you can understand our apprehension.
In the end the flight itself turned out to be absolutely fine. It was actually the airport which sent us to the brink! In hindsight it’s all very funny, and I’m sure very familiar to fellow parent travellers, so here is my humorous take on flying with a baby which is loosely (almost exactly) based on our most recent experience…
Stage One: Pre-flight Denial
You know your journey is fast approaching, but you’re in sweet denial about how horrific it is going to be. Your husband keeps reassuring you by saying nice things like “I’m sure he’s going to be as good as gold” “It’s only eight hours…it’s not that long” and my favourite, “he might nap” – ha!
But seriously, how hard can it be!? Your tot might literally be into everything it can grab, open, climb, or potentially eat at home, but you (and they) have survived so far…how much worse can a flight be!? You’ve also flown a couple of times before, so you’re pretty much a seasoned pro. Aside from the odd tantrum, uncontainable poopie, and projectile vomit, you’ve been absolutely fine and you can absolutely handle this. You’ve even thought ahead and packed a little bag of new toys for your baby to play with to keep boredom at bay, so you’re feeling quite prepared.
Seriously, flying eight hours with an almost one year old will be a walk in the park…
A feeling of calm sets in.
Stage Two: Airport Anger
You’ve survived the journey to the airport. The driver went a bit fast and it’s got you a bit jittery, but it’s all good. And lo and behold the airport is quiet! Your baby is well rested and delightfully intrigued by its new surroundings. You proceed to the check-in desk with ease.
No seats together despite pre-booking them. FFS! You leave your husband negotiating with the stewardess in search of an airport stroller.
You find a stroller, but it won’t open. You skilfully hold baby in one arm while shaking, cursing and jiggling the stroller open with the other.
The stroller opens, but baby refuses to go in. Meanwhile husband is back having worked his charm and magically mustered two seats together. Between the two of you, you wrestle baby into the stroller and hold long enough to get all the straps in place.
The buckle won’t clip. Eye twitches start. Baby wiggles way out in ensuing seconds. Sod it! Hand luggage goes into stroller, baby is to be carried. Proceed to passport desk.
All good, you pass the passport desk level seamlessly. A wink of reassurance from hubbie, all good. You’re so happy to have him as your travel companion.
Your husband starts to complain that he’s sweating. Said level of enthusiasm towards him as your travel partner goes down somewhat.
You proceed up to duty free where all hell breaks loose. People, gah. Just people, everywhere! You try your best to meander the sea of oblivious, lost looking fellow travellers, ebbingg and flowing with the crowd to seek out your terminal. Someone crosses your path, disrupting your progress. Tut. Then someone else does it again, argh! Then someone walks into you and you really start to lose your shit.
Baby senses your tension and starts to flail around a little. You stagger on with your mutually tense husband, intent on finding your terminal.
Terminal found. All good. You give a big sigh of relief. You get settled, then exclaim with enthusiasm that you’re just going to pop to buy some face cream at duty free, telling your husband to chill and look after the bags while you take baby to help you choose.
You jump back into the sea of people without your husband. WTF were you thinking!? You start to feel like you’ve left without your armbands. You slowly and carefully force your way to the cosmetic department.
You arrive to the safety of the cosmetic department, yay! An overpowering wall of aroma hits you. Then each and every single member of staff proceed to greet you, attempt to spray you with perfume, then touch your baby’s face. Knowing you have limited time and patience, you lock your target purchase and proceed to checkout.
You get back to your terminal through the sea of people, and your husband decides to go and browse duty free “for ten minutes” while you chill with the bags and the baby. Your baby has been pretty calm up until now, so you approve.
The second your husband walks away, your baby starts screaming, shouting, and fighting to escape your arms! You cannot keep ahold so allow them onto the floor. Chaos then ensures as your overtired, hyper baby starts to crawl, walk and climb, intent on escaping into the sea of people. Following like a shadow, you frequently have to stop them from climbing onto people’s hand luggage, rooting through some lady’s handbag, pulling over dividers, eating old pieces of sandwich off the floor, and generally causing a scene if you dare pick them up.
You realise baby’s trousers are wet and they need a nappy change fast…but you can’t leave the bags unattended. You wait for your husbands imminent return.
Twenty minutes later, where the F is your F’ing is husband!? You’re completely beside yourself! Baby is wet and dirty and hungry and flinging themselves around with force in your arms. Together the two of you have attracted quite an audience of disapproving glances. You’re angry, stressed, exhausted, on the verge of tears, and you’re not even on the plane yet!!!
Husband returns looking happy and relaxed with a bag of goodies. His lovely wife has somehow turned into a snappy, argumentative, unappeasable psycho-bitch, and relations fast go downhill as you demand to know what took him so bloody long!
While defending himself against your tirade, you remember that baby needs a nappy change. You walk to the nearest toilet…no changing room. You walk to the next…no changing room. You interrogate a member of staff with a begging desperate look on your face. They point in the opposite direction beyond the sea of people. A lump forms in your throat and your heart starts to race. You take a brave first step and decide to just go for it!
You give up half way, returning traumatised to your husband begging “please take the baby, I cannot keep hold of him and cannot find a changing room.” A cup of coffee is desperately needed so you head towards Caffe Nero.
You happen upon a medical room on the way where you spot two other equally desperate parents changing their child on a countertop. The attending medic sees the desperation in your eyes and allows you in to go next.
Together, you and your husband wrestle your baby into a new nappy as it insists on trying to stand and open cupboards while doing so.
You say thank you to the attending medic and set back on your path to find coffee.
Coffee and chicken sandwich in hand, you start to feel a bit better. Boarding is called and you relax a little further.
Passing the boarding gate, you grab a complimentary copy of The International New York Times. It appears that through the stress you’ve regressed back into a state of denial, believing you might actually get time to read on the flight.
Your baby grabs and shreds newspaper as soon as you sit down.
Stage Three: Onboard Acceptance
You board the flight. There’s nothing you can do, nowhere to run. The coffee has helped somewhat, and you start to sink into a state of acceptance.
You regress into a state of anger a little as you resist the urge to flick a fellow traveller on the ear as they pack, unpack, then repack their hand luggage into the overhead compartment, blocking your way for at least two minutes.
You share a chuckle with a fellow passenger seated behind the slow passenger. They totally know what you’ve just been thinking!
You get seated. Baby is in good spirits. You and your husband share a laugh about airport anger and holiday divorce-rate statistics.
Baby feeds as you take off and FALLS ASLEEP for a whole hour! Glances of disbelief are shared with your husband the whole nap.
The rest of the flight goes pretty well. Actually very well! Baby naps and plays and eats as you and husband rotate entertainment duties.
You decide that you actually had nothing to worry about.
You land safely at your destination. You spot the passport queue. Airport anger resumes…
If you have any funny travel stories, or are prone to losing your patience as fast as me, I would love to read in the comments below!
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