How to fly with a toddler...and survive!

I was nervous about it, for sure.  I was going to fly from Dallas to Atlanta to visit my old roommate, Amy, with a 22-month-old toddler in tow.  There aren't any direct flights between those locales on Southwest, so we were going to have to connect in Houston = almost 4 hours total flying time.  This was going to be interesting.

The last time we flew together, Luci Belle was 13-months-old and not yet walking {translation: a lot easier to control}, it was a direct flight, and we had Daddy there as our "clutch."

This time?  Just mom and toddler.  Mom, solo.  S-O-L-O.  And we've been dealing with some temper tantrums lately.  Thankfully, Luci Belle is very sweet and well-behaved most of the time, but a toddler is a toddler.  And second to love, they want freeeeedom!

I really wanted to see Amy though, and figured I had to venture out there and go for it.  So I packed up the carseat, suitcase, Bob stroller, and diaper bag, strapped Luci Belle in my Boba carrier, and set forth on this adventure.

"Not so sure about this, mama!"We quickly secured a window seat on the plane, hoping and praying the flight wasn't full and that a sweet grandmotherly type - rather than a huge, stinky man - sat next to us.   Luci Belle entertained herself by pulling the window shade up and down for about a minute-and-a-half and then started getting antsy.

Before the wheels even left the tarmac, it was time.

Time to pull out my secret weapon - The Airplane Busy Bag.

{Yes, I actually wrote "Airplane Busy Bag" on it in Sharpie.  Such a nerd.}

I got the idea for the Busy Bag from this pin on Pinterest and used several of this site's ideas on what to include in my gallon Ziploc. 

Here's what my Busy Bag included...

  • Stickers.   Especially fuzzy angels, shiny pigs, hearts, stars, and smiley faces.  I tried to choose stickers of words she knew, so we could also practice saying the words.
  • A small notebook of blank lined paper.  She likes to draw a scribble on one page, immediately flip to the next page, etc.  And the ringed notebook would keep it all together.
  • Pad of blue ocean-themed note paper.  However there were no rings, so the pages went everywhere.  Hmm, not the best idea.
  • Smaller baggie full of crayons, a ballpoint pen, and a highlighter.  Again, I included some colors she can say.  I figured when she was worn out of the crayons, we could move on to more tantalizing items such as ink pens.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine. 
  • Ribbon with clothespins attached.  Idea from the above website.
  • Burt's Bees Lip Balm.  Again, from the site mentioned above. She loves pretending to put on lip balm, so I thought this was a genius idea.  And at least this was clear and non-toxic.
  • My Kindle.  Just in case she got completely bored and wanted to practice "typing" - and for when she {hopefully} fell asleep so I would have something to read that I could hold with a few spare fingers.

And then on my trusty iPhone, I had 4 movies:

  • 101 Dalmations - you can never go wrong with doggies
  • Horton Hears A Who
  • Finding Nemo
  • Ratatouille

Finally, some snacks:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Hail Merry Chocolate Macaroons
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • GoRaw Chocolate Sesame Seed Cookies - for me to pop in my mouth at the first sign of stress
  • Corn chips
  • A cup of ice ordered from the flight attendant

As for the activities, the biggest hits were clearly the lip balm, which she gouged out and spread all over her face, hands, and the leg of the lady next to us, and the stickers, which she handed one-by-one for a good twenty minutes to a 7-year-old girl sitting behind us named Hattie.  Hattie was on her way to Disney World.  When Hattie exited the plane, there were smiley face stickers {some wearing bowties} all over her shirt. 

Unfortunately the ribbon/clothespin idea was a fail.  I thought she would enjoy clipping and unclipping the clothespins, drawing on them, etc, but she just took it out of the bag and immediately threw it on the floor as if to say, "What is THIS doing in here?"

The corn chips and ice-crunching occupied another good 30-45 minutes, so I'd also consider those a huge hit.

Midway through the flight, I managed to capture this photo...  

{Toddler chowing down on apple and potentially trying to pick her nose at the same time.  Tired mom with frizzy hair, trying to hold it together.}

After this, she thankfully nursed and fell asleep for about 45 minutes, and I was too tired to read, so I just played word games on my Kindle.

Flying with an almost-2-year-old on your lap is comical, but it can be done successfully.  Sure, it's challenging attempting to color, play with stickers, and have snacks and drinks off a tray table that's tilted 45 degrees downward.  But overall, I was so proud of my adventurous, curious little girl, who mostly did not try to slither off my lap and never stopped saying and waving "hi" to the other passengers and flight crew.  Although we got close a few times, there were no tantrums.  I think Hattie had quite a bit to do with that.

Final assessment at the end of the flight?  Spilled ice water, wet seat, chewed emergency instruction manual, scribbles and stickers "decorating" the tray table, and my Kindle had somehow flown two rows back under some lady's legs. 

But we survived!  And Amy was waiting for us on the other side, ready to usher us on to our next adventure: Atlanta.