Traveling with 2 under 2? Here's a how-to guide with step by step instructions to get you from point A to point B effortlessly!
HA! If you have children, you know the word "effortlessly" is in no way, shape, or form applicable to any role as a parent. And you might have also learned that there is no such thing as a how-to guide for any aspect of parenting...like at all.
I don't care what books are out there or, how many "studies" have been conducted...an accurate "how-to" when it comes to raising children, just doesn't exist. That's the beauty of parenthood. We all get to have our very own, individualized and unique experience raising our children...but I'll save that topic for another post...
You're here because you want the scoop on how I survived traveling from coast to coast with my just turned 2-year old and my 8 month old...alone...so here it is for you:
I prepped for days. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. I know that sounds over the top, but I did. And it helped.
Mentally & Emotionally: I prepared for the worst. I created a "statement of affirmation" to tell myself when things became tough and out of my control: "This is just temporary. I am patient, I am loving, and I am enough." I would repeat this to myself over and over again like a crazy person through any hardships that came my way. Like, when I was trying to carry 2 children through the teeny tiny aisle of the plane; one screaming and the other trying to sleep...while the gentleman behind me took my 2 carry on bags I was trying to also juggle along with the children...yeah I was internally screaming those words of affirmation at that point. But honestly--coming into this situation with the right mind-set made all. the. difference.
Physically: I packed anything and everything I could reasonably fit into 2 carry ons and a toddler's backpack that I thought would make life a little easier on the plane. All kinds of snacks, a small selection of toys, an iPad loaded with movies and shows, and lots of wipes. Being physically prepared with everything I needed was also beneficial mentally. Because despite the fact that I didn't use most of the items I packed...it was just reassuring to know that if my flight got delayed and we were stranded in the airport over-night...we would have more than enough snacks to get us through.
Despite my effort to prep--things still didn't necessarily go as planned. Because sometimes, your toddler doesn't care that you've downloaded 5 brand new episodes of Paw Patrol on your iPad or that you have every single snack option he could possibly dream of. He just wants off that plane! So he'll scream cry for 35 minutes until he falls asleep...or you'll be so nervous you pack ALL the baby bottles and have nothing to give your baby except an extra sippy cup you luckily packed in the carry on. These things happen. Something will go wrong. That's why mental preparation is SO important.
I let go of expectations.
Often times, I catch myself getting upset with my children because things in my day are not going the way I envisioned they would. (For example: I've had to write most of this post with my 8 month old on my lap because he decided not to take a nap today. So instead of peacefully writing this post, I'm fighting him for the keyboard #momblogger ). But in terms of travel, I didn't set expectations of my children for the trip. I didn't envision my boys sitting quietly watching their show or sleeping the entire way. (okay, I dreamt of this possibility, but didn't depend on it...) I knew to just take them as they were and love them through it. This kind of goes along with mental prep but I felt like it's such an important part of travel survival, it needed it's own section!
I used my oils. (duh.)
You better believe I had my oils on hand. I found they helped a lot in helping my boys feel comfortable and "at home." We diffused Serenity at nap time, just like at home. On-Guard was another FAVORITE (of Mom's) with all the germs and yuckiness that come with traveling. These are the 5 oils I had on hand:
2. On Guard
On the way home, my babe was able to use his first Finn Bib and it made SUCH a difference. Instead of reapplying Serenity to his blanket and the back of his neck, he had his oil diffusing on his Finn Bib the entire way! If you haven't checked out Finn Bibs yet...you NEED TO.
Side note: looking to give EO's a try...I have some awesome enrollment kit options available on my Facebook page! Hurry...first come-first serve. And you know you want one of these cutie carrying cases that are INCLUDED in the deal!
I accepted the help of others.
You can't do it all on your own. It's just not sanely possible. I went into the experience afraid to ask for help, but knowing I would probably need it. Lucky for me, I crossed paths with some wonderful people along my trip. I can't even tell you how many times someone would offer a helping hand, a kind smile, or reassuring words to let me know they didn't mind the crying, or to tell me I was doing a "great job!". This photo here is my favorite because I love the story it tells...
I didn't take this picture, or even see Van sitting up with the pilot. A kind family saw me struggling to get my stroller broken down, my two kids and 2 carry on bags in my arms and on the plane so the father offered to take Van on the plane while I finished gathering my things. Van being, well...Van, sprinted onto the plane and marched straight into the cockpit with the pilot. The pilot let Van sit in the seat and "drive" while I got Finn situated and onto the plane. And the father who was helping us snapped this photo of Van for me! How tender is that?!
I used the extra seats.
If your flight isn't full--TAKE ADVANTAGE. I always sat my lap child in his own seat, even though he technically didn't have one. And during one leg of our flight we had 2 entire rows to ourselves! You better believe I let my 2 year old run up and down those aisles to get his wiggles out. If there is extra space, have NO SHAME in using it up. Nobody else is!
Okay fine, I actually had my husband and mom with me part of the way...
Did you know that even if they aren't flying, you can have someone help you when going through security and checking in up until you walk onto the plane!? Yeah, you can. And that my friends was a life saver! Because the thought of getting both of your kids, and all your belongings through security alone is an actual joke. Both times checking into my flight, the desk person was kind enough to offer without me even asking! But if they don't offer, ask. It's totally free and SO. MUCH. HELP.
So there it is. My survival guide to traveling with 2 under 2. (Fine, 2, 2 and under now that my oldest just had his birthday!) No, it wasn't effortless. No, it wasn't easy. No, I wouldn't even say it was enjoyable...but we survived (and at moments, thrived.) And that's what matters..right?