It’s been quiet on the blog the last month, as we were off to Switzerland for two weeks and enjoyed the hot summer days in Amsterdam. We spent our time outside as much as possible and exhausted at the end of the day. Now the last week of my maternity leave has started. Trying not to plan too much, getting a few last things off my to do list and enjoying all the precious moments around the kids before working life starts again. And of course catching up with the blogging a bit! Starting with this blog post about flying with both kids on my own for the first time…
I remember how tense I was before my first flight on my own with Henrik. He was three months old and quite the easy baby. Nevertheless, I feared he would start crying and never stop during the trip. It all went very well though, as I described previously in this blog post. And now, I found myself three years later, planning to do the same trip to Zurich, my hometown, with two kids. We were going to spend two weeks in Switzerland and husband joined for the last couple of days. Henrik is now three years old and Stella was four months at the time of the flight.
Even though I still felt a bit nervous about the trip, I was pretty sure everything would go well and without major drama. Because this time around, I knew you can (almost always at least) trust that you know your own children and they won’t suddenly behave completely different just because you’re on a plane. Henrik has been on so many flights with me already, short and long ones. So the short journey to Zurich wasn’t really a concern. Snacks, toys and a book made sure he’d be entertained throughout the flight. Now he’s at an age he realizes we’re actually getting on a plane and he was super excited about everything at the airport. His excitement about all things connected to planes and the fact that he couldn’t wait to see his grandma again made the whole experience extra nice. And throughout the flight, I had to smile at myself thinking how worried I was about my flight with just Henrik three years before :-).
Stella is a content baby who loves to be carried around. As long as she’s attached to me, she’s happy. And if she gets grumpy, nursing or the pacifier usually do the trick. Her nursing rythm sometimes seems quite random though: she can do four hours without, and sometimes not even two. Luckily, the flight wasn’t busy, so I had an extra free chair next to me. Before the plane took off, I nursed her without worrying I would bother the person next to me. Because once the belt lights are on, you have to put on a belt on your baby and have them face the front chair. No way to feed her between then and the moment you’re safely up in the air. So she was well fed for the take off, and just to be sure she wouldn’t suffer from the pressure change, I gave her the pacifier to suck on during the take off.
With the free chair next to me, I was able to put her on her back and let her play for a bit. Nice change of position for a while since she’d been in the baby carrier and on my lap for the previous two hours. After about 15 minutes, she got tired and I had her back in my arms. I put the belt on her so I wouldn’t have to move her and wake her up when she fell asleep. Whereas Henrik would only fall asleep if I walked with him in the baby carrier, Stella falls asleep in my arms when I hold her tight against me, pacifier and blanket as her companions. So she slept for the rest of the flight and then continued sleeping in the carrier once we landed. Well done to both littles :-).
So..Was flying with the two of them harder than just Henrik? Yes it was. While I was holding a seven kilo baby in one arm, I made sure with the other arm that my toddler wouldn’t spill his juice and tried to keep the crumbs explotion as limited as possible (thanks KLM for the nice cake that kept Henrik happy and entertained for another 10 minutes :-)). But at the same time, I’ve gained in experience and calmness these last years as a mom, which made the trip, even with two children, more relaxed as well.
For anyone planning a trip with two or more kids, here’s some tipps that I found useful (+) or should do differently in the future(-). Also handy to read back for myself before the next time 🙂
- + I didn’t bring a stroller to the gate but carried Stella in the baby carrier instead. It was one less item to be busy with. Also, you need to take stairs and get on the plane outside of the gate sometimes. In those cases, you have to fold the stroller, carry it down the stairs and leave it in front of the plane on your own. I just didn’t see myself doing that with a baby in the carrier and a toddler at one hand.
- – I should have worn just a t-shirt under the baby carrier rather than a jumper. It’s always hotter at airports than I think, and the nerves made for some major sweat breakouts 😦
- + If you nurse: it helps if you’ve nursed in public before and gotten handy with latching your baby on under a cover. That way you’re confident you can nurse your baby any moment they’re hungry. If you bottle feed: bring hot water with you so you don’t depend on the flight crew for that while you’re baby is hungrily waiting to be fed. Especially for short European flights, as the crews’ schedules are very tight and they won’t have time to assist you until you’re up in the air.
- – I should have started packing earlier. I always have the suitcases lying around for a week in advance which stresses me out as I hate packin. This time, I wanted to change that, so I started packing only the day before the trip. However, Stella was sick that very day, and I could only get her to sleep on top of me. It was evening when husband got home and I finally really got the chance to pack. Doing so for me plus two so last minute was not ideal. Life with babies is unpredictable, so I’ll make sure to pack our thing two days ahead for the next trip.
- + As I always do on flights, I got Henrik a little present (this time a little Planes plane) that he could unwrap at the beginning of the flight. No matter how tiny the toy, it’s new to him and he’ll be entertained with it for that extra while that is precious during flights.
- + I brought a snack box that included snacks for myself. Especially as I am still breastfeeding, I am hungry a lot. And this time around, I am better at looking after myself instead of just my kid. At the airport, I had my hands full with the kids and getting us to the gate. Too busy to get in a queue and buy a snack. And the snack you get on the plane is usually not enough and not always the healthiest option. So having a box with crackers, dried fruit, grapes and a banana was perfect.
All in all, the flight with two kids on my own was not that big of a deal after all. It definitely helped that Stella is still so small and not in that phase yet where they want to stand, crawl or walk everywhere.. The packing and getting us all into the car and to the airport was the most stressful part to me. “Did we pack everything?” “Did Stella drink enough?” “Has Henrik been to the toilet before we leave?” And so on 🙂
At the airport, it was very busy as the vacation period had just started. As we had left later than planned, we were in a hurry to get to the check in and drop the luggage off (when traveling with an infant, you can’t check in online). The airline staff sent us to the wrong counter twice, making us walk for an extra ten minutes – especially unhandy if you’re with a toddler to whom the airport distances are already quite a marathon. So note to self: take even more extra time ahead to get to the airport. Stress about missing the flight and hurrying little toddler legs to the gate is the last things you need to your flying alone with kids experience :-).
Here’s to more succesful traveling – alone or with husband – with our two little globetrotters. Please let me know if you have any useful tips to add 🙂