Traveling Rocket Babies

People are scared of taking babies on airplanes. Good reason for that. There are horror stories. Kids are just a wild card. Loose canons, let me tell you. Enough craziness goes on in our own home, with all the beauty of structure and schedule (and privacy!). Add condescending looks and long exaggerated sighs to the upheaval of their little normal-life routine with limited mobility and resources, and it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Thankfully, our kiddos are wonderful travelers. Eddie has grown up flying, mostly short flights to the Midwest, but several long-haul flights in his few years. Xanderman is much more wiggly than big brother ever was, but also seems to perk up with a little social interaction, and since there’s always someone to engage his charming smile and coos, flights are doable.


Here’s the trick I’m learning for flying with young children:

Low expectations.

Take this latest trip, which included a 9+ hour flight across all of the U.S. and the Atlantic. We left for Denmark in the late afternoon, and since we’d arrive in Paris for our layover in what would feel like the wee hours of the morning, I assumed the boys would sleep on the flight. It was nighttime after all. I may not sleep, because, yikes, for some reason the older I get the harder it is to sleep in a sitting position, but surely they will. Wrong! Eddie slept all of 30 minutes. What?! Xander slept only when Jonathan, who was holding him, was standing. The only positive spin I can put on a long-haul flight with next-to-zero sleep for an entire family? At least we were so exhausted when we finally arrived in Copenhagen we were able to sleep regardless of what time it felt like to our bodies. The point is, I spent most of the time traveling frustrated that we weren’t sleeping! The reality is, you can’t make another human being sleep!

The return trip had us departing early in the morning, so instead of an overnight flight we had an extremely long day of travel. But the difference was in my expectations. Since it was daytime, I didn’t assume the boys would sleep, so when they did–even for a few minutes simultaneously, it was a welcome surprise!

I’ve found if I approach a few hours on a plane with hopes of catching up on some reading or watching one of the latest releases, I’ll be disappointed. I’m smack-dab in the middle of a stage of life that is wonderful in a lot of ways, and also completely guarantees my time is not my own. This too shall pass, though. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A few months ago, Eddie discovered the joy of ear buds and basically spent the whole flight happily entertained because getting to watch a movie is a huge treat!

When I begin to worry about a long flight–will they be able to nap? do I have enough toys packed? what if I run out of snacks? what about if someone pukes?–I find I just need to remember when something goes horribly, we deal with it. It does me no good to worry. Be prepared, yes. Pack a change of clothes for everyone in a carry-on because someone (*ahem* Xander) might dump a full cup of water all over himself and the person on whose lap he is “sitting”. But ultimately don’t waste time anxiously wondering what might go wrong.  Chances are something will. Still, we survive. And we get where we’re going.

And we have fun and make memories!





2 thoughts on “Traveling Rocket Babies

  1. I’ll never forget Jenna’s first red-eye . . . she was probably 2.5-3 and I was sure she’d sleep. I don’t think she closed her eyes until our final approach!


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