This last week I had the pleasure of taking a trip home to visit my dad and step-mom out in the boondocks of Colorado. This would be Baby 1.0’s third trip out there, but the first since she was mobile, vocal, and opinionated. These things, of course, aren’t considered when you stumble across Southwest’s $99 fare, and then purchase tickets faster than your toddler can eat a wad of old chewing gum they find on the ground. As our trip approached, the reality of the situation set in, and I found myself going through the 10 stages of traveling with a toddler.
1. Book trip. Feel confident, excited, and happy.
2. 1.2 seconds after receiving confirmation email from airline, feel panicked, claustrophobic, and extremely worried. Nearly drown in mental what-if’s. What if I flash someone while nursing? What if she poops? What if she won’t let me hold her for 2 1/2 hours? What if she screams the whole way? What if she gets sick? What if I get sick? What if there are snakes on the plane?
3. Vacillate between excitement and panic up until day before travel. Grab the reigns and focus all mental energy into packing. Pack perfectly. From diapers to Dog Dog, from toys to Tylenol you remember it all, and manage to fit it into one small suitcase. Okay, two medium-sized suitcases. And a full diaper bag. Applaud yourself on not overpacking (more). Feel calm and prepared for anything.
4. The night before traveling, wake up no less than 85 times checking alarm clock to make sure it is set. Stress pee each of the 85 times you wake up. Wonder if in the event of an airline emergency, you would indeed have the wherewithal to place the oxygen mask over your face before placing it over the face of your child. Decide no, because you would likely be in the bathroom stress peeing while trying to keep your toddler from licking the door to the bathroom. Wonder if they have oxygen masks in the bathroom.
5. Get out of bed early and walk around house collecting miscellaneous items to cram into nooks and crannies of suitcases and diaper bag with the intensity and passion of hoarder at a flea market.
6. With a frown, relinquish armful of items to disapproving husband who confirms you have actually packed nearly everything you own, and reassures you there will be no airline emergencies in which you will be tasked with oxygen mask placement.
7. Get dressed. Pee. Load car. Run in to pee again. Realize at this very moment child hasn’t yet pooped today. Say a prayer to the Saint of Doodie Britches your toddler doesn’t poop while on the plane.
8. Arrive at airport with plenty of time to spare. Check baggage, and breathe sigh of relief. Don dark glasses and give your unruly hair a toss to channel your inner movie star.
9. Start to feel relaxed and confident again. For first time, notice beautiful color of the morning sky. Look down at child to try to share this moment, only to witness child lick handle of baggage cart. Make mental note to not share water with child for a day or two. Take off dark glasses and pull hair into your standard pony tail so you can more closely monitor child’s behavior.
10. Get on plane! Flash neighbor, repeatedly. Wrangle wiggly toddler successfully, and smile uncomfortably when toddler loudly announces 15 times they have pooped. Change diaper on galley floor in record time under scrutiny of flight crew. Empty contents of perfectly packed diaper bag in an attempt to entertain toddler “the old-fashioned way” but give in to increasingly impassioned demands to watch Elmo on the iPad. Let toddler watch embarrassing amount of TV, but secretly thank your lucky stars you have an iPad. Eventually arrive. Pat yourself on the back and beam with pride when neighbor tells you what a good baby you have.
So there you have it. Any stage I missed you other parents experience when you travel?
Cover image credits, wagon belongs to HMDHM