Flying with kids ain’t for the faint-hearted…

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Photo source: hyekab25

There’s something about traveling in a confined space, up in the air, with children… isn’t there? Something that makes you never, ever want to do it. Ever.

If you were at Sydney airport at around 4pm on Monday, and you happened to see a stressed-out blonde woman losing her mind… it was indeed me. I love Sydney. I love visiting my sister and brother and their partners, I love seeing my cousins, I love eating the dumplings… but Sydney we’re breaking up.

I flew down to Sydney on Saturday morning to go wedding dress shopping with my big sister. The flight down was not so bad. It was packed. My anxiety levels were through the roof, but thankfully all went well. I had the new Barbie movie ready for Lacey. I had a hungry baby ready for a feed so there was no crying from Luella {for the most part}.

It was just the trip home that was mind-blowingly painful. We left our apartment mid-afternoon. The back seat of our hire car was lined with three car seats, one for baby Luella, one for Lacey and one for baby T’el {my 5 month old niece}. T’el cries when other babies cry, and Luella cries when placed inside a car. Can you imagine the sweet sounds we drove along to on the way to the airport? Waaaah. Waaaah. Waaaah. I have a knack of laughing in horrible situations, so in between singing Old MacDonald and rubbing baby’s heads, I laughed. A lot.

We then managed to drive into the wrong hire car return area. We had nowhere to go, a boom gate in our way. My sister, in all the drama, jumped into the office and said, “We’ve got a crying baby situation here, OPEN THAT GATE!” And up it went.

We then parked where ever we liked {which happened to be in two car spaces} and exited the car at great speed. FREEEEEEEEEE! That’s what it feels like when it all stops. The anxiety stops for a moment, and FREEDOM. Silence. Except Luella takes about eleventy hours to recover and resettle, BUT freedom.

So we dropped the keys off, realising we forgot to refuel and had to pay a gazillion bucks for something that probably would have cost us $21.50. BUT again, freedom. Out of the car, I don’t care.

The whole checking-in, dropping off prams to excess baggage and going the screening point was accompanied by screaming from a baby, because no amount of singing or jigging, or cuddling or kissing would settle her. I’m sure people prayed, hoped and wished that they weren’t going to be on a plane with me, and her. I got a few sympathetic smiles, but mostly people looked on in FEAR. Because there is nothing quite as fun as being on a plane, seated next to a screaming baby for over an hour. Is there?

By the time we boarded the plane, Luella had stopped screaming… only to start screaming again as we found our seat. She goes from sweet, cute, happy, silent baby to screaming one in great speed. It’s all or nothing, baby.

As I walked to the back of the plane I could also hear the waves of audible relief as we passed by and DIDN’T sit near the people. “She’s gorgeous,” one woman cooed as I walked by.

“Gorgeous?” I laughed, “Shall I sit her with you for the flight?”

“No!” her husband shut me down with the most serious, cranky look on his face.

Dude, I was joking.

As we finally made our way to 23D, it’s like the seating gods had looked upon is. We had empty seats around us, except for one lone teen in front of me who was most likely making his way to schoolies. He lasted about 4 minutes before running to find a different seat. Smart thinking.

It didn’t take long to settle Luella and the rest of the flight was quite painless. It was when we were preparing for landing that I let out a little celebratory ‘yahoo!’ knowing that we’d be on land in a matter of minutes.

Only we weren’t. The captain quickly announced over the loud speaker, “A plane in front of us has blown a tyre on the runway. We’re going to have to circle up here for a bit. We have enough fuel to do this for an hour.”

And then the baby woke up…

  • Terry Beth Tucker Barnhart

    OH my goodness! I feel bad for you and Luella, and the other passengers! But, having been in places where baby needs to be quiet, I know the looks and the whispers and the rolling eyes, and the winces. I also know the feeling it gives you to know it is beyond your control. I once had a lady tell me there were binkies for such times. Sorry, mam,no time to tell you that my baby hates binkies. Glad you are through it! HUGS!

  • Reemski

    Ten days ago I flew from Sydney to Europe with our 2 year old (and she was remarkably well behaved until the last 30 minutes of the 14 hour flight when she lost her goat and spewed all over herself), and today she did a poo in her nappy while we were in the Sistine Chapel. She later had a meltdown (despite the bag full of snacks we had) and in the end we strapped her in the pram, handed her the iphone and let her watch Peppa and Ben&Holly to her hearts content so we could have just a moments peace. I feel your pain.

    • http://www.theveggiemama.com Veggie Mama

      She shat in the Sistine Chapel? What a legend!

  • kristieraeofsun

    When my parents made the big move from NZ the the land of OZ in 1978, I screamed
    The whole way. From runway to blessed runway. Nothing would calm me, no one could shut me up but the sound of the landing gear on Australian soil. I was 18 months old and my mother STILL talks about it. She’s still traumatised after 35 years!! All I can imagine is a captive audience listening to the dulcet sounds of my bellowing and sucking back ciggie after ciggie and wine after wine.
    I dare say you’ll still throw that one into random conversations in 35 years like my mumma still does! :)
    Example from the other day “geez my chooks won’t shut up!”
    “Oh yes, it reminds me of the flight from Auckland to Sydney when we moved here…you wouldn’t stop crying…screamed all the way……” HA!

  • Daisy

    Speaking as a child who flew a lot (every Christmas to New Zealand, starting age 3 months), I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being the screaming baby who no one could deal with. It was always just mum and I travelling, so she had to deal with a domestic flight to Sydney, then international to NZ alone. She used to put me in the old bassinets they had on planes (not sure if they still have those), and just let me cry for 3 hours. Anyone who complained, got the “if you can stop her, be my guest” speech. The flight attendants do their best, but their advice was always let just let the baby cry. Its hard, its annoyed, but theres really nothing to be done about it – we grow out of it eventually! Though, sadly for me and my Mum, I grew out of screaming, and into extreme projectile vomiting style motion sickness, where I would throw up for 3 hours straight, often over us, and sometimes over flight attendants and fellow passenger (sorry Businessmen on that flight to Auckland back in 1995, I hope you found a good dry cleaner). Not sure if Mum’s ever decided which was worse, the screaming or the sickness…

  • Samantha

    Oh man.

    I recently took a trip to Adelaide. My son flies really well. When we boarded the fully booked flight, a lady called over the flight attendant and asked to be moved. Awkward. And down right rude.

    I’ve been battling with anxiety while flying. Read more here -> http://samiati.com/2012/06/13/me-the-control-freak/

  • Fashionista

    When my son was small we traveled a LOT, he had had something like 14 (domestic) flights before he turned one, most of them just me and him (going to meet Dad somewhere, or returning from somewhere where we left Dad). Generally he (and his sister after him) was a great traveler although I had many a trip with a squalling infant. In those days you boarded last if you were wrangling a baby so you are making your way down the aisle watching the faces with anyone who had a spare seat beside them. Then, on arriving at our seats I used to announce with a big smile, “Yay, you’ve won the prize, we’re sitting with you!” This statement was initially met with disbelief, but then they warmed up and mostly we could get a smile. When traveling with a baby and a toddler we were mostly given a row to ourselves which made it easier. And by then I had learned to ask for help, that is what the hosties are there for. Whenever we are on long haul flights I always offer to walk a baby up and down because I’ve been there done that and sometimes even if you just get 5 minutes to regroup you can soldier on.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I have never flown alone with a baby but it must be very hard and especially when the plane cannot land for some reason or another but does no one help anyone anymore.If I saw a lady with a screaming baby on a plane I would offer to help her,i feel for you hon in that situation xx

  • Anna

    silly me took a red eye flight from Perth to Melbourne with a 4 year old and 18 month old. 5 year old was fine…18 month old slept for first hour and last hour. The hour and a bit in between – torture. Trying to pacify a tired kid without pacing the aisle and annoying other tired and wanting-to-sleep passengers is a rather stressful event!! Was thankful to hit Melbourne even though I was a tired mess! Only…we had to wait two hours for connecting flight. Kids decided to fall asleep on me 5 mins before boarding time. I though Yay – this should be good and it was…until we were in the air! I can tell you, I practically threw the kids at my Mum and sister at the other end and fell asleep right there in the terminal! What was I thinking! Not even going to comment on the return flight weeks later…

  • mary_j_j

    We have done a fair bit of long haul travel with our two, from the age of 5 months (they are now 4 and 6) and I would take a long flight over a domestic any day, even now. They are both good travellers, though the classic was coming back from London to Bangkok with our then almost 1 year old, and feeding her happily – til she projectile vomited all over the place about an hour out. We got moved, there was spew everywhere. She had a full set of clean clothes but we didn’t – it felt an age til we’d gotten off our connecting flight to Chiang Mai. I hope Luella settles down with the screaming travelling thing soon xx

  • Cat

    I’ve flown many 9 hour flights with my 2 daughters over the last 3 years, and me as the only adult. Some have been awful, but most were ok. It is definitely character building! I just tell myself it is only 9 hours out of my life, it will be over soon, and focus on trying to stay calm and anticipating my girls needs.

  • http://www.dazeofmylife.com Corinne

    We have done a lot of flights the past 18 months, so I feel your pain. The worst one was flying for 14 hours with an 11-month-old who wouldn’t sleep, just cried and wanted to crawl around. A four year old who then wet herself about half an hour after she went to sleep. The only one who enjoyed the flight was the five year old, she had a lovely time watching movies and drinking lemonade on demand!
    We’ve got a seven hour flight tomorrow, but after flying solo with my three back to Australia in June (I’m hoping) it will be a cinch! Fingers crossed.

  • http://jeanieinparadise.blogspot.com/ Jeanie

    I have only ever done one set of flights with a child – 3 years old and she was a breeze – played peek-a-boo the WHOLE WAY with all the businessmen behind her quite vociferously indeed.

    “Because there is nothing quite as fun as being on a plane, seated next to a screaming baby for over an hour. Is there?”

    I truly feel for you.

  • http://number-19.com Talia Carbis

    Haha! Oh dear! I have to say, I’ve travelled lots with babies/toddlers and I’ve never had a problem, but I imagine if this was my experience I wouldn’t want to do it again quickly!!
    Hope you fly again with them and it’s much easier!!

  • http://www.kirstenandco.com/ Kirsten Smith

    Many years ago, when my now 12 year old was a baby, I took him with me to NZ. His first flight ever and my first flight as a mum. I was beside myself with nerves/worry/stress until a lovely lady I worked with at the time told me “Just get on that plane and don’t give anyone else on board a second thought. You’ll be far more stressed holding a screaming baby than they will ever be holding their white wine.” SUCH GREAT WORDS. And so true x

  • chilli273

    One 5 month old one 20 month old – 21 hours to London with a 2 hours stopover in Singapore and very little sleep by either little one (and no sleep for me). Too horrific to go into again – let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant for me or anyone within three rows of us. I prepared for weeks researching activities to entertain the older one – searching blogs for travel advice – unfortunately it was all in vain- my activities succeeded in keeping my toddler entertained for about 2 and a half minutes so after the first hour we were out of things to do. Very tough flying wit unhappy bubs – I feel your pain!

  • 26 Years & Counting

    Nothing worse than doing loops around an airport when you just want to be on the ground!