Well, I'm a survivor. But a little traumatized, I must say.

That 11-hour plane ride with my 14-month old just about did me in - it was more stressful than the 5 months we spent in an African village with no washing machine or fridge. On the plane, she either nursed or screamed the entire time. After about 5 hours I was ready to fall apart and we had another 6 hours to go. At that point, the memory kind of turns into a blur. Time seemed to drag beyond anything I'd ever experienced. Then, when the plane finally lands, that's not the end either. There's customs, and immigration, and long lines, and it just was altogether miserable.

Now that we're getting ready to move back - and now that we have another little one - I've been giving this trip a lot of thought. I can tell it's on my husband's mind too. We'll look at each other and say, hopefully: "Don't you think this new baby is more laid-back? Don't you think she'll do better on the plane?" or: "Don't you think that our oldest has outgrown that stage?" and we assure each other that yes, oh yes! this time it will be SO different. Wishful thinking, anyone? Haha. We're optimists.

I do have a couple notes-to-self made though... and I really hope these things will actually help.

1. Rest. We are going to TRY to keep the last week or two before our departure pretty low-key. Last time, we packed in outings, visits, and a yellow fever shot for good measure, all within the last 5 days or so. No wonder she was a mess. If my babies can be well-rested as much as possible before we leave, things should go a little better.

2. Pack. I am going to be very intentional about what I have in my hand luggage. There are going to be some new small toys (Playmobil has the cutest little sets... my 3-year-old is going to LOVE the little mother-and-stroller set! I've had my eye on it for months already), some snacks, some clean outfits, some books. I am going to make a picture book of all the relatives. Crayons, paper, stickers. A little bit of everything. Except maybe paint. :-)

3. Prepare. We are already talking to our 3-year-old about this plane trip. She's pretty pumped about it. We're going to pretend, and play, and do whatever we can so she gets the idea before we ever board that flight. The idea being - we're going to SLEEP on this plane. :-)

4. Suck during take-off and landing. Pacifier, nurse, sippy, lollipop - whatever it takes to get that pressure off those little ears.

5. Relax. Ugh, this one is so much easier said than done. When you're up there at 10,000 feet, and your baby is yelling, there's only so much you can do. After that, it's either pull out your hair and join in the screaming, or just roll with it. I believe that your fellow passengers can be quite understanding, especially when they see that you're trying your best. And if they aren't understanding? Well, chances are you'll never see them again, right? Babies are amazingly good at mirroring the stress they feel in their parents. If we can stay relaxed... things would go better. Just remember - this too shall pass. It will.

6. Pray. This is a really practical prayer request you can give to people... I believe God cares about little things, too!

I am going to give it my best shot, and at the end of the day, we will get there and we will survive... and with a little bit of luck, in our right minds too. ;)

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What are your secrets for surviving a long plane ride with children? Any stories to share? Please comment below!

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