Embarking on an Oxymoron

Contributing Editor Mary Tsao also blogs at Mom Writes.

Family vacation. Do those two words evoke memories of good clean fun or holy hell? Ya, that's what I thought. I'm in a fine mess. Tomorrow my husband and I are leaving on a jet plane and taking our two toddlers with us. Two parents, two toddlers, and a six hour flight. I ask you: What fuzzy logic made us think this would be a good thing?

Don't answer that.

I have a love-hate relationship with family vacations. I love to plan them and hate to be on them. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but this time I've come up with a simple plan for how to survive a plane trip with my wee ones; I'm turning to the Information Superhighway for help.

Even though my first thought about taking toddlers on an airplane is that it's positively wrong, CityMama did it recently and lived to to blog about it. In her recent post on travelling with kids, she gives some great advice:

  • "Buy your over-six-month-old-but-under-two-year-old a seat if you can. You don't have to, but if you can, do it. They will be more comfortable and so will you.
  • Minimize the carry-ons. If your preschooler does the "carry his/her own backpack thing" make sure it's not so weighed down with toys and crap that you'll end up carrying it after 10 minutes. I carry a big tote bag into which I throw: my purse, my laptop in a zippered sleeve (if I'm bringing it), a couple of diapers, and some portable, non-messy snacks (an apple, some pretzels. I wish my kids would eat bars but they no likee). I don't bring sippies anymore. (Thank god. It's one less thing to keep track of.) My kids drink water at the airport or on the plane. (Teach your babies how to use a straw when you introduce a sippy cup and then teach them to sip from a regular cup soon after.) I don't bring changes of clothes anymore either. If disaster strikes on the plane, my kid can enjoy wearing an airplane blanket until we hit baggage claim.
  • Minimize the luggage. My girls share a backpack. The only shoes we bring are the ones we wear on the plane.
  • Travel at naptimes or natural sleep times. But don't ever take a red-eye. That's a seemingly-brilliant plan just waiting to backfire on you. The moment you spread an airplane blanket down on the floor beneath your feet then tell your three-year-old to sleep on it you'll realize your mistake."

CityMama knows what she's talking about, and I'm definitely going to follow her simple procedures. Check out her post for other terribly good recommendations. And I'll add another one to her list: non-stop flight. Layovers are an unfunny joke when you're travelling with kids.

But before I imagine the worst, maybe I should anticipate the best. In a recent post she wrote for Blogging Baby, BlogHer Contributing Editor Karon Walrond tells of her surprise and happiness when the kids on a recent family vacation ended up being better behaved than the "hot, sweaty, cranky, and starving" adults.

"...I write this article as a public service to all of you who may be beginning to plan your summer holidays, and dreading the trip with your very young children: take heart. Despite all the horrible things your journey may throw at you, you never know -- your kids may surprise you with their stellar behaviour."

Hmmm. I'll believe that when I see it. I have a feeling I'll be saying the same thing after this vacation that I said after the last one: Never again.

[Photo credit: Mary Tsao]

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Mary Tsao | Mom Writes

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