In my younger, kid-free days, I loved flying. The atmosphere, the excitement of going to a different place, some quiet time to read or work- it was an enjoyable experience. Fast forward 10 years and now, three kids, and quite a bit of gray hair and wrinkles later, flying is not an experience I enjoy so much, mostly because 9 out of 10 times I am flying with three little, noisy and needly companions. Then there is that 1 out of 10 times, the time I get to do something so rare, so wondrous. It’s magical, mystical and the stuff dreams are made of: FLY ALONE.
Flying with kids and without them is literally like night and day- they are two extremely different experiences, and if you don’t have kids, or rarely fly, then let me enlighten you into the ying and yang, the joy and sorrow, and the daydream and nightmare of these two experiences.
Flying without kids: You pack a few cute outfits in a small suitcase, a few pair of shoes and a matching carryon and are ready to go. Which earrings match this dress better? Who knows, I’ll just take them both.
Flying with kids: You pack everything you can even imagine you may possibly need from diapers, to underwear, stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, medicines, eleventy billion outfits for everyone, and half of the toy box. You leave the house with 4 suitcases, 5 backpacks, and God knows what else.
Flying without kids: You patiently wait in line, flipping through Facebook or checking your email on your phone. Oh it’s my turn already? I didn’t even realize.
Flying with kids: You graciously pay $200 to check some bags and lighten your load and assign something for each kid to carry. You may have the baby in the stroller or in a baby carrier and desperately try and find her binkie before you get in line. Once in line- it looks as if there are 19,000 people in front of you. Don’t touch that! Don’t take the strap off of the line divider thingy! Please don’t touch the nice man in the business suit in front of us- no he does not want to see your Minecraft toy. WHEN IS IT OUR TURN?!! Finally it’s your turn and your struggle with removing X-number of coats, shoes, hats, toys, bags from kids and fill up a million gray bins and struggle with pushing them through the x-ray machine. Beads of sweat drip down your face when they ask you to remove the baby from her baby carrier as you calmly attempt to take her out with one hand while holding your toddler with your legs so he doesn’t bolt the opposite direction. You silently pray that none of your bags need to get checked through, because if they do, you know your head may explode.
Waiting to board:
Flying without kids: You have some extra time to you wander around the duty free store and then that store with the magazines and peanuts. Maybe you buy an extra magazine, just so you don’t get bored on the plane, then you get a starbucks and sit and watch the sunrise while waiting to get on your flight.
Flying with kids: You stick a sweatshirt on to hide the sweat stains under your armpits from barely making it through security in one piece and then try and find your gate. You drag little bodies past all of the stores while listening to them ask for “that t-shirt mama”, or “that book mama” or “that muffin mama!!!”. You don’t have too much time now till you board since it look so long in security, so you know you have to make it to the potty before you leave- so you head over there, shouting “hold hands!” “don’t touch that!” and “stay with me!” the whole way. You enter the bathroom with the kids and all of your bags and wait for the handicapped stall to come available so you can have space for all of you in it. One by one, everyone takes a turn going potty, you reluctantly change the baby’s diaper on the changing station and then throughly wash everyone’s hands. You look like a three ring circus, leading everyone out of the bathroom but at this point, you are REALLY starting not to care what anyone thinks.
Boarding the plane:
Flying without kids: You show your ticket, walk onto the plane, store your luggage and sit down.
Flying with kids: “MOM how much longer till we are on the plane??!!” Soon baby, very soon. As you walk your kids down the aisle, you beg them not to touch anyone as you walk by…all while dodging the other passenger’s “oh dear god no” eyeballs as they see you walk by with kids. You find your seats and buckle everyone in. You get out a quick snack for everyone to keep them happy for a bit until you are in the air and finally sit down. “MOM I HAVE TO PEE!” someone says. Le Sigh…….You unbuckle everyone’s seatbelt and head to the potty, again.
Flying without kids: You read that new book you downloaded on your iPad and enjoy a small snack of mixed nuts you bought at the magazine store. You get tired of reading and decide to close your eyes for a bit. After your brief and relaxing snooze you read some more and suddenly *POOF* you have arrived! Wow, what a fast flight, you think!
Flying with kids: As the plane goes up in the air you make sure each child has their pillow, blanket, favorite stuffy, a snack and then a lollipop or some gum to help prevent their ears from bothering them. Inevitably someones ears bother them and you soothe them with a second lollipop or gum, then suddenly everyone’s ears are conveniently bothering them and now everyone has a second lollipop. You start by offering everyone some new crayons and coloring books you painstaking bought for this trip and everyone is happy coloring for exactly 3.5 minutes. Then someone is board and wants to play that game you bought, then someone else also wants to play that game, and someone has dropped the yellow they NEED for the sun on their picture and you can’t find it, then you all try and look out the window at the ground but then 2 of the three kids get mad because they can’t see as well as the third so you just shut the window and say “screw it” and turn on one of 19 movies you will play in a row so you can attempt to sit for 3 seconds in quiet and maybe shove that old granola bar in your face because you realized that you forgot YOUR bag of dried fruit and mixed nuts on the counter at home while making sure all of the kids snacks were packed. 19 movies, and what seems like 3 days later, you land and are pretty sure you are just moving to where ever you are visiting because you don’t think you can stomach the thought of flying home again.