I recently took a trip back to Canada for a whole month and it was incredible. I didn’t feel rushed and I got to spend quality time with many of my friends and family. The first two weeks we were all together, but then my husband had to fly back to Portland for work. I was so sad to see him go, but Piper and I were totally spoiled staying with my parents for the following two weeks. Piper really blossomed during our time in Niagara and suddenly started learning a lot of new words. Bird, sky, bear and Elmo are amongst her new favourites!
But as the flight home drew closer I started to feel the telltale signs of my anxiety growing. Every time I would think about boarding the plan with my rambunctious and strong-willed little girl my stomach would flip. I spent the last few nights of our trip awake for the entire night trying to imagine every terrible scenario that might occur so at least I would be prepared. What if she accidentally hits the passenger next to us? What if she throws a tantrum while I’m changing her diaper and she falls off the table (there are no security straps on airplane change tables…)? Of course there is always the classic “what if she screams the whole 5 hour flight?” Suffice it to say, I was running on only a few hours sleep the day of our flight. Not exactly drawing from a full tank if you know what I mean. So I’m here to share what worked – and what didn’t – on my flight home alone with Piper.
Try (really try) to get a good nights sleep the night before
I should have taken this advice myself. Because I was exhausted it only made my anxiety worse. Everyone has different methods of slowing down and calming your nerves, so do what works for you. Take a nice bath. Diffuse some lavender essential oil. Take melatonin. Whatever will prep your body to feel sleepy and ready to relax.
I made the mistake of carrying two bags, a carseat and Piper through the airport. Thankfully I at least had the good sense to put Piper in the Ergo carrier. In hindsight I should have just checked the carseat with my suitcase but I was anxious (surprise, surprise) about it getting lost and leaving me with no way to get Piper home in the car. I should have just checked it anyway! Also, in my experience you don’t have to pay to check a carseat if you’re travelling with a child. I ended up drenched in sweat and shaking by the time we boarded the plane because I had to keep running after Piper while carrying all that stuff with me! Don’t do it folks. Don’t do it.
I had a diaper bag and a purse for myself, which was totally unnecessary. I was so busy during the flight that I never even got the chance to open my purse to get out a book or listen to a podcast. I could have easily made it through the flight with just a diaper bag packed full of snacks and toys.
Talk to your neighbours
This one may be hard if your shy about speaking to strangers, but it made a huge difference. Before the flight even took off I introduced myself to the woman beside me and the woman across the aisle. I told them that I was travelling with my 1 year old for the first time and I was pretty nervous about it. They were so warm and understanding and went out of their way to help me in any way they could.
Half way through the flight the woman next to me offered to take an empty seat at the front of the plane so that Piper would have a whole seat to herself! And when Piper did have her meltdown(s) they gave me an encouraging look of empathy that made me want to throw up slightly less. And one of them actually carried my carseat to baggage claim for me while I wrangled Piper and the rest of my bags. Not all angels have wings.
Buy water (or milk) at the airport
I don’t know if this is always true, but they let me take Piper’s sippy cup full of water through security. Once we were waiting at the gate I debated buying a $6 bottle of water but ultimately decided not to. There will be water on the plane right?
They did refill her cup once during the flight but just as we were about to land she demanded “wa-wa” and all the flight attendants were preparing for landing. Plus the seatbelt light was on and I am a stickler for rules. Could I have gotten up anyway and asked them for more water? Sure. But I was trying to console Piper who decided that no water = life ending, so the moral of the story is just buy a bottle of water. Just incase. It’s worth the $6.
Pack 6 million snacks and 4 million toys
The diaper bag was like freakin’ Mary Poppins that day. It was packed full of her favourite snacks and several small new toys for her to discover. This isn’t anything new, every new mom knows this trick. But it bears repeating! Let this be the time you treat them and give them goodies they don’t normally have. I bribed Piper to sit still with an oatmeal cookie and the sugar high she had after we landed was soooo worth it!
I’m not sure if any of this was helpful, but I just wanted to share a few things that might be useful to you moms out there. If you have any tips for me I would love to hear them! I don’t plan on travelling alone with Piper again for a long, long time. But I love the online community of moms I’ve found and I always enjoy swapping tips on how to keep our sanity.
I’m having some blogger/writer’s block lately so if there are any posts you’d like to see, please leave those in the comments as well. I need some inspiration and who better to guide me than you – my readers! <3