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Traveling With Kids

WARNING: Flying with Children is NOT For the Faint of Heart

We have all heard the horror stories: The infant who screamed uncontrollably and quite literally the entirety of a trip. The eye-rolling passengers offering little to no compassion or care. The feelings of helplessness and anxiety flooding the frantic parent. Maybe you, yourself, have been that parent. Doesn’t sound like fun for anyone involved.

Well, our family decided to put these stories to the ultimate test in flying with our children. And let’s underline ultimate test – we flew all the way to Rwanda, which meant two 10+ hour flights with an hour-and-a-half layover. Oh, and with all four of our children who have NEVER gone on a flight longer than an hour…the littlest never ever even on a plane. Now don’t misread this. I by no means expect kudos nor a medal of honor. Rather, I anticipate responses and confusion and “you guys are crazy.” So here is what we learned.

Why Can’t You “Just Sleep”? – no surprises here, but kids are not going to sleep on command. While it is “best” to sleep on the first leg to then stay awake for the second so you can best acclimate to the 10-hour time change…there is no “best plan”. Simply sleep at anytime would be nice. And trust me, we tried it all, from melatonin to oils and they “worked” maybe for 20 minutes at most. In the case of our oldest, 20 minutes was all we could ask for and get. Such is life. Who needs sleep anyway?!?!

You Want Me To Eat That? – another shocker, airplane food is not exactly tasteful or frankly even identifiable. The number of seemingly untouched trays of food going from the seatback tray back to the flight attendant were incredible. Much of our parenting is focused on teaching our kids to try new things and have attitudes of gratitudes. But sometimes the stash of comfort foods is necessary and required. Pack snacks!

Did YOU Sleep? I was asked this countless times…and my earnest response was, “Are you serious?” My mama senses were heightened to every sound and movement. Partly because my sweet husband can and will sleep through anything. And mostly because of the newness and unexpected realities of traveling with littles. Not to mention that our two-year old slept well…only when she was laid out across and/or on-top-of me. Let’s just say I’ll need chiropractic and massage work for the rest of my life. But seriously, I would trade my comfort and sleep for that of my children any day…that is part of the sacrifices of mommyhood I know all too well.

Now this may sound entirely overwhelming and discouraging to ever go anywhere with your children. Quite the contrary. I would endure all the aches and pains, twists and turns, again tomorrow. NOT because the flights in and of themselves were enjoyable. But the flights were merely a means to an end. An end in Rwanda that was glorifying, life-changing, and memorable for each of my four kids in uniquely powerful ways. I cannot wait to share more about what we witnessed, felt, and experienced in the weeks to come. Sometimes the means to the ends are excruciating. But endure, persist, and never give up. Keep the end goal in mind. What is an end goal in your life that you must stay focused on, not losing heart when and while the means are less than ideal?

Photo by C. Cagnin from Pexels


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