As a mother who has managed to take her children on many domestic and international flights, since the delicate age of 10 days old… and often solo; My Number 1 Tip is simple. Say Yes To People Who Offer Their Help.
Now, I know that many of us find this an easy concept to understand but a difficult act to follow.
After all, society tells us that we must have all things perfectly in place and be that perfect parent.
And I am exactly that perfect mum, my children are exactly those perfect children…
Our flying clothes are a crisp white and fingerprint free. I am able to calmly lead my family entourage through customs and security, with ample time and minimum hassle; our luggage bags do not even bother me as I have many hands to handle both baggage and children; my children are impeccably behaved in the airport and on the flight; from the age of two, my children have been so well trained that they stay in an independent seat, and strapped in, without question, for the entire duration of a flight; but best of all, people do not notice my children, because they do not make a peep. I never receive a sideways glance trying to hide a judgmental stare.
Are you serious?
Although I have learnt many tips and tricks to successful and less stressful travel in my years, there is no such thing as the above scenario (unless you are going to sedate your kids and bring a nanny). I am surprised you are still reading this blog as I would have called BS on the foretold fantasy after the first two lines.
I have had poo-splosions on seats. I have been asked to keep my kids still and strapped in. I have been told that my children are disrupting the prayer area at the back of a plane (we were seated in the last row) from playing eye spy and taking them to the toilet. My kids wander the plane like they are exploring a rediscovered lost world, talking to everyone on the way and using the aisle row guests’ legs as a hand rail. My kids have pointed at a gorgeous African American hostess and shouted to me (for everyone to hear), that her skin was “so black and shiny, can I take her skin”? I have at times been so tired and desperate for sleep that I have slumped my hands in my head on a plane while my kids refused to follow the etiquette and minimum actions required for the plane to take off.
I have also had amazing moments in my travel. Such moments have usually been created by a kind and understanding stranger offering a helping hand when they have no obligation to do so. This has made travel easier, at times it has made it bearable at the least and been the whole reason I didn’t open the exit door and leave before takeoff.
To the newly wed couple who offered to hold my 10-day-old baby on our first flight while I unpacked and sorted all of the ‘baby things’, and then held her almost the entire way because she fell asleep during safety session…
I was able to sleep for the first time in days. I wish you all the happiness in your life.
To the new father working for Qantas who legged it back to the plane to retrieve my belongings after I had forgotten my nipple shields; who then consoled me crying at the luggage department at he very thought of having to feed my new born baby without them with shredded and excruciatingly sore breasts without them…
You saved my body, your baby has an amazing dad and your wife, a fantastic husband.
To the airport staff who led me to their personal lounge and dimmed the lights so I could feed my baby while they brought me biscuits, fruit, tea and water. I was still learning to breastfeed; I was clumsy and my baby was recovering from her frenotomy (tongue tie procedure)…
You allowed me the privacy that I needed to be calm when feeding her.
To the many Air Host’s that have taken my children because I was struggling to manage them both, or simply because you thought they were cute, and you enjoyed walking them up and down the plane…
You allowed me to keep my sanity and you are wonderful at your job, hospitality is definitely your forte.
To the Grandparents who offered to help me play with my toddler while my newborn was screaming to be fed and then thanked me for the honor of having time with my curly haired princess. You made my child’s day as much as she made yours…
Your Grandchildren are lucky to have such playful and Gentle Grandies to guide them.
To the lady who designed Kitchi Kitten who lent over from her seat after seeing me try and hide my tears behind my hands and my messy mop of blonde locks, trying not to disturb any one with my exhausted sobs and simply said “I have been there mum, I have a whole 3 seats to myself. Why don’t you hand them back here. I am well rested from my holiday and you can get some sleep. I have felt like you before, let me help you”.
You are beyond a saint, you saved me embarrassment and turmoil that day and I am glad you are in the business of spreading joy with the toys that you make.
Note: That same lady, the designer and owner of Kitchi Kitten, a Rainbow-Butterfly-Unicorn- Kitten was going through her own troubles as I found out in a conversation later. Regardless, she took it upon herself to send 5 Kitchi’s, free of charge to our home. 1 for each of our daughters. Their Kitchi’s are still their favorite comfort toys.
To the solo dad who took over from me playing with his kids and my own and entertained them with wrestling games in the isle…
You are sensational, we made a good team and I was glad to be on your end of the plane that long night.
And to the countless parents who accepted my help when I am having a good run while you are having not so easy moments. To those of you who have asked “how do you manage it”?..
I don’t always manage it. Trust me. But I thank you for letting me pass on the kind gestures I have had by letting me help you.
So mums and dad’s, I know it is hard, but when someone offers to help. Simply say yes. It doesn’t make you a bad parent or any less capable than the people who are managing AT THAT TIME.
Just say Yes and follow it up with a simple Thank You.
People don’t offer help unless they want to. And what we often fail to remember is;
By helping you, they will get joy out of doing so… because kids do that to people.
Abbey McKenna – The Parenting Co
Chaotically organised, energetically tired, beautifully dishevelled, erratically in control mother of 5 children and a rescue dog. Abbey is the Chief Editor for The Parenting Co a teacher, visible learning coach, environmental rehabilitation business owner and NLP practitioner; but her claim to fame is having the best taste in music and the hippest Mum dance moves you have ever seen.