So you are going to be one of those “cool” parents. You were a jet setter of sorts as a young’un and you’re not going to stop now just because you have a few “mini-yous” in tow. Good for you! You are insane!
It’s ok. I get it. I too was a sparkly-eyed adventure seeker as a 20-something and always imagined myself as a modern traveling-mom-on-go. But those rose-tinted images you see in your feed only tell you about 1/5th of the story. Yes, there are moments of magnificent memory-making and unique beauties to behold, but there is also a whole lot of stuff you are going to want to forget.
The Flight with a Baby
The first time you fly with your first baby is magical. They sleep for the entire duration of the 16-hour journey, they coo at the passersby, they make eyes at the flight attendants and sleep soundly. They suck you in and make you feel capable. You sit there with a smug smile on your face when, upon landing, the elderly woman in the row behind you gives you the absolute complement du jour: “I didn’t even know there was a baby on the plane (wink wink)”. Those other parents who warned you about traveling must just be missing some parenting gene. Thank goodness you aren’t them.
The Flight Toddlers
Then your child grows these fantastic things called “brain” and “vocal chords” and the magical experience of travel takes a nosedive. You sometimes can’t even spend a day with your kid(s) in your OWN HOUSE without wanting to run out the door and into a meditation class where you can fall into a deep, forgetful sleep. But now you have voluntarily sealed yourself up with this(these) kid(s) in a metal box IN THE SKY from which you can’t escape. On top of that, you have an audience of 200 strangers to judge your parenting skills based on this finite encounter. Good for you. You’re a winner.
Twelve hours into the journey, a thing of nightmares occurs: the breached diaper. The breach spills not only onto your angel’s jammies, but onto your jeans as well. You have still have four hours left on the flight and that seatbelt sign – your new arch nemesis – just sits there, illuminated, for all eternity. So you have no choice but to sit there, in the feces, and enjoy yourself. Your other child decides the only thing that will satisfy his curious mind is to throw an entire bag of Cheerios, one at a time, onto the floor. He then needs to get down off his seat and eat each one up off the floor. You let him. Because you’ve lost the ability to care.
The Time Change
Never mind that you’ve broken literally all of your parenting rules to keep your kids quiet on the flight, you did it! You’ve arrived and you are ready to reward yourself with some rest and TLC. You know, like any rational person does after a long flight. Oh, honey, honey. It’s only 8am here and your kids, who dozed in between tantrums on the plane, seem to be ready for the day. They are simply not . . . going . . . to . . . sleep. So you double down on the caffeine and tell yourself you can make it until bedtime. But, just as the coffee flows full-force through your veins, they decide it is naptime. Ok. It’s ok, you’ll unpack. After all, you only need to make it another 12 hours.
Oh honey, sweet honey. No. Bedtime rolls around and your kids’ bodies think it’s 2pm and they are ready to party. Get ready; you are about to experience that awesome and terrifying out-of-body sensation called sleep deprivation yet again.
By the time you get to where you are going, all you want is comfort food and all your kids want is nothing that is readily available. So you end up supping as a family on a package of ginger snaps and three bags of gummy bears. I’m not going to lie, it is pretty glorious.
Observers eye you and murmur something to the effect of “I always prepare a roast goose upon arrival at our destination”. “Good for you,” you think, “You drive an hour and a half in a car.” You also have the less magnanimous thought, “Then why couldn’t take pity on us and make us a freaking roast goose with these 20 minutes you have used to discuss our dinner arrangements.” Yep, you are feeling pretty on edge, even for you.
Your progeny are usually heavenly little angles but they will turn into banshees during your trip. They can’t help it; they have no idea why they only feel like sleeping when it’s light outside or why their bread doesn’t taste all preservative-y.
The good news is that you are well rested and, therefore, adult enough to have calm and rational interactions with your children. Just kidding. You squawk right back at them. You can’t help it. Your kids don’t sleep right and so, you guessed it, neither do you.
So, should you do it, you ask? Yes. One hundred percent yes! You should totally do it. Book that trip. You know the saying “collect memories, not things”, right? Well, rest assured, you are never going to forget this.