(Telling Minnie Mouse all about the plane)
Happy Thursday, Y’all! This post is a little different from the usual. Let me start off by saying that this post is in no way meant to be a “How To Fly With Young Children” post as I am not at all an expert on flying with a young child haha. This was Madeline’s first time flying and my first time flying in three years, so I was quite nervous, to say the least. I’m simply writing this post to…make you laugh?…make you smile?…I really don’t know. It ended up being one of the longest and most emotional days ever. But now that I look back on it, I just have to chuckle. As moms, I know that we have all been in this type of situation. So, without further adieu, I hope y’all get some type of entertainment from this post. Most importantly, I hope that what one kind stranger told me at the end of that very long day touches your heart as it touched mine and continues to touch mine even today.
As I said, I knew nothing about flying with a young child! When I was pregnant with Madeline, I had said that I wanted her to fly for the very first time at a young age, but obviously this did not happen as early as I had planned. We came home for a weekend before heading back to the beach to spend a few more days with my family. The drive back is quite long, and I didn’t feel so confident with making the drive just myself and Madeline. I had tickets for us to fly home and fly back. But after hearing that my sister was driving back home the same day we were scheduled to fly back, I quickly jumped in on us driving back with her and only flying one way back to the beach. Seemed simple, right? And with all (okay most) of our things staying at the beach for when we returned, we didn’t have to get that much back on the plane. I thought it would be easy peasy. However, I was a bit nervous.
The day before I flew, I got on my Instagram stories and asked for some tips for flying with young children. The DMs began coming through with tips upon tips of advice. My heart was so touched that so many helpful mamas cared to give me advice. I was feeling so confident after all of the tips I had received and the encouraging messages of “you’ve got this, Mama!” I am still to this day touched by all of those helpful tips as they did prove to be tried and true hints of advice. I quickly ran up to Target the morning of our flight (we flew out late that afternoon) to gather some things to pack along in Madeline’s bag. Some of the best tips I received were to get her some things that would be easy for her to play with on the flight, download her favorite show to my iPad, get a pair of children’s headphones, get her favorite snacks, and take along an empty water bottle to fill for her once we had gotten through security. One of the best tips I received was to buy her some new goodies (toys that she had never seen before) to surprise her with on the flight (Thanks to Courtney for this tip!). I’ll list a few of the purchases that turned out to be hits during our flight below:
1. The umbrella stroller (I didn’t purchase this specifically for the flight, but it seriously saved my life)
2. This sticker book (we stuck stickers on anything and everything haha)
3. This activity book (She LOVED this! It had an airport scene, a fire department scene, everything!)
6. Doc McStuffins figurine (can’t find it online, but I got it from Target!)
Everything I got for her fit nicely into her little backpack. I was feeling more confident than ever after my little “Target run.” 🙂 Another tip of advice that I found so helpful was prepping Madeline for the flight. I talked it up for days and felt that I had her excited to go on her first plane ride up above the clouds. My dad and I even “played airplane” with her and set up chairs. My dad was the pilot and I played the role of the flight attendant haha. It was a hit! I felt that she was officially ready for her first flight. But let me just say, it always proves to be true that whatever a toddler feels that day during that time is how he/she will act haha…no matter how much you prepare them! So, here’s a little bit about how her first day in the airport/flights went 🙂
(I looked so prepared right? 🙈)
My dad took us to the airport late afternoon. I could tell Madeline was extra sleepy as she had missed her normal nap time. But I was thinking “This is even better! Now she’ll probably sleep on the first flight!” Well this didn’t go as planned. She had already had a pretty busy day which led to her falling asleep on the way to the airport. I gently placed her in the stroller, kissed my dad goodbye and took off to the line for security. And remember when I said that I didn’t have too much to get back on the plane? My bag actually ended up weighing close to 50 lbs. (yikes!). By the time I got my makeup, my computer, and other things I had to bring home and take back with me packed up, the weight added up!
I quickly brushed off the fact that my carry on was quite heavy and got in line for security with my sleepy Madeline. Of course, I had to take her out of the stroller to get through security, and with her being the most wakeful child ever, she woke up. So, that 30 minute power nap ended up being all she got for the entire day. THAT is where I believe everything went wrong haha. But I was like whatever we’ll be there around 9:00 that night, just after her bedtime. This also did not go as planned!
After getting through the security line, I felt I deserved a pat on the back. I mean, I managed that all on my own! It was at that time where Madeline began to get extra fussy and let the airport know that she had not properly napped…and I realized that the Augusta airport was the busiest I had ever seen it (our airport is very small with direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte and D.C. only!). Our plane was a very large one headed to Atlanta. It seemed to be about 100+ degrees in the airport, and Madeline began to show her frustration and lack of sleep. She began to have a fit and protested to get out of the stroller! Our tickets said we were to board at 4:55, but that turned into 5:15. Not too bad right? I eagerly listened for the airline representative to say that individuals in need of assistance could board (just another reason to be so thankful for that stroller). We finally boarded for what was suppose to be a quick 20 minute flight to Atlanta. Madeline was excited and quickly became obsessed with opening and closing the window shades (I apologize to the lady sitting in front of us) as she must have opened and closed them 50+ times. After sitting tight for 30+ minutes with no sign of leaving any time soon, I decided to go ahead and take out some of her toys for entertainment. The sticker book was first on the list! We stuck stickers to everything! Finally, we took off over an hour later than scheduled. It terms of the actual flying experience, Madeline was a champ! She didn’t complain of her ears (as I was worried about) and only said that her tummy felt funny during take off and landing.
(excuse the horrible picture of my stressed out self, but Madeline was flying for the first time, so this picture was a must.)
We were suppose to arrive in Atlanta before 6:00, but ended up not taking off until after 6. We sat on the plane for almost an hour which had us arriving in Atlanta around 7:00. Thankfully, we weren’t suppose to board our next plane until 7:50, so I wasn’t too worried. I just felt bad for others who had definitely missed their connecting flights! Since we had to sit on the plan for so long, waiting for it to depart, Madeline had already gotten a little stir crazy. After landing, we quickly made our way off the plane and collected our stroller. Thankfully, Madeline didn’t mind going for yet another stroller ride. The stroller was my favorite thing in the world at the moment 🙂
We had to catch the airport train to our next gate. We took the elevator down to the train, and this was the only dilemma with catching the train. Madeline has an obsession with pressing the elevator button (I’m sure she’s not the only one). So of course, she had a fit to press it. Her stroller was too low to reach the buttons, and I wasn’t about to get her out so she could press it lol. So, she had a fit. Whatever. We made it to the train, and within minutes, we arrived at terminal B. Our gate was at the complete opposite end of the terminal, so I decided to make our way down to it, just to make sure that we were at the right gate. We made it there, and sure enough, there it was “Daytona Beach.” However, it said that the plane was running late. Boarding time at 7:50 changed to 8:20. No big deal! That gave us enough time to grab a quick dinner. So I quickly strolled us back up the terminal to find some dinner. Madeline, of course, asked for her favorite thing: a “pink smoothie” (strawberry banana smoothie). Sure enough, there was a place to get a smoothie! #MomWin. I did’t even care that it was a $8 smoothie. She was happy in her stroller.
I then headed to look for some dinner and found something Madeline liked (yet another #MomWin). After waiting in a crazy line at Popeyes chicken, we got our ($14 😳) meal that we split. The airport was so busy and loud that I could hardly hear myself think. But if you follow me on my Instagram, stories, you know that I’m always saying how Madeline loves to sing. Well, she sang her entire way through the getting dinner process. At the top of her lungs, you could hear “And Bingo was his name-o, B-I-N-G-O…”. I still laugh about that to this day. Anyways, I decided that we would eat at our gate, just to be safe. We were suppose to board in 30ish minutes anyways. My shoulder was seriously starting to hurt now from the heavy carry-on. It was so heavy that if I had hung it on the back of the stroller, it would fall over backwards even with Madeline in it! So, on my shoulder it had to stay.
We made it back to the gate with only one little incident almost occurring (Madeline tried to kick a gentleman’s fro-yo out of his hand…I don’t know how that even happened. But thanks goodness he quickly moved his hand and gave me a not-so-nice look as I frantically apologized). We finally found two seats together, and I pulled out our food! Madeline decided it was time to runaway from mama, so I turned on Doc McStuffins and set up a little area for her to eat and watch her show. I felt another #MomWin coming on…until…I hear this: “Listen up!! Who is going to Daytona, raise your hand! If you are, your gate has now been moved.” So I’m like great…just as I’ve gotten her all settled to eat dinner. So, I packed up our food, Madeline, the iPad and everything else I had gotten out as we began to walk to the complete opposite end of the terminal. Finally, we made it. I then noticed that our boarding time had now been changed to 8:45. Okay? Not okay! But okay? So, I quickly looked for another two seats together in what seemed like an enormous sea of people. I finally found two together at another gate just a few down from ours. So for about thirty minutes, we ate, Madeline watched her show, everything seemed to be going just fine.
Now, this is where everything started to go down hill. Madeline decided she had had enough! I frantically began to try everything. We Facetimed her uncle, we looked at pictures of my sister’s dog that she’s obsessed with, etc. I could’t get my phone connection to work for some reason, so The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” wasn’t an option. All I knew was that she. had. had. it. She screamed and flailed her arms. She was determined to do one thing: get down and run away into the crowd of people rushing through the airport. I began thinking, if she gets away, she’ll get trampled by the people rushing by, I’ll have to run off and leave our stuff and someone will walk off with our bags. Not to mention, our belongings I was using to “try” and occupy Madeline with hadn’t even been packed up yet. I knew one thing: I absolutely could not let her down. So I quickly packed up our things, threw my heavy bag in the seat of her stroller so that the stroller wouldn’t tip over, threw my purse and her backpack across the back, and held on to her as tightly as I could, trying to console her. Needless to say, we lost our seats, so we walked and walked and finally just stood in line hoping that somehow we would miraculously board. Next thing I knew, we had been standing there for 30 minutes, and it was nearly 9:00. I had somehow gotten my phone to work, and Madeline was now engrossed in Paw Patrol. Then finally I heard, “passengers in need of assistance: it is now time to board.” I tried not to think about the fact that we should have been in Daytona by this time now but instead we were just boarding. Madeline was exhausted…I was exhausted…but we were finally boarding.
(Again, telling Minnie all about it 😂)
After getting in our seats, I decided to pull out the other sticker book. I was shocked with how much Madeline loved this thing! Next thing I knew, the plane was boarded and the flight attendant gets on the speaker and says “our pilots have arrived.” I could see the light at the end of the tunnel! Finally! But then…the pilots announced, “The flight crew from the previous flight broke the plane. 😳 Sit tight and we should have it fixed in fifteen minutes or so.” Feeling frustrated (again), we continued to play with the sticker book. Twenty minutes went by, and we were now making our way to the line of planes waiting to take off. Again, this seemed to take forever! 10:06, we finally took off! We were on our way (over two hours late, but we were on our way!).
That’s when Madeline officially officially lost it. She screamed, kicked the seat, kicked the window, you name it. She had had it! I knew she was exhausted because she took the tantrum to a whole new level that I had never seen before. I could feel everyone’s eyes staring at me. A few people put earbuds in. One guy in the isle across from us kept leaning forward and glancing over. I didn’t know what to do. Nothing I had packed for her was working at this point. The electronic sign had yet to be turned off, so watching a show wasn’t an option. Nothing was working. She screamed for twenty-ish minutes until she finally cried herself to sleep. I was so thankful, and yes, I even felt another #MomWin coming on haha. All the lights were off, everything was quiet, the only thing to be seen was the lightning storm in the distance. With Madeline asleep, I finally felt like I could breathe.
Even though it was only a 50 minute flight, the kind flight attendant began to serve drinks. I then realized I had not had anything to drink since earlier that day (I even forgot to drink something with my dinner lol). When it came to be my turn, I asked for some water, thanked the lady and gulped it within seconds.
One other thing that a sweet mama told me when I asked for flying advice through my Instagram stories was that when traveling alone with a young child in the airport, I’d realize how many kind strangers would be willing to help. I was honestly not feeling this up until now. I felt like there were so many instances where this person could have helped me with my bag, or that person could have helped me unfold the stroller, etc. But this is when I realized how long just a few kind words could go. This is when I realized how just a tiny bit of encouragement could turn someones mood in the right direction.
After gulping my water, the flight attendant was about to walk off to serve the next row of passengers. But she quickly leaned back over to mine and Madeline’s row and whispered in my ear “You’re doing a great job, Mama!” All I could to was smile at her, and the tears began to flow. I was so exhausted and frustrated with the way the whole day had gone, that all I could think about was that I must have done something wrong in this whole entire flying process. How do some people fly with their toddlers on long, international flights, but I can’t even make it from Georgia to Florida?! The people around me had to have thought I was insane. My child finally stops crying now I start crying? Her words absolutely touched my heart. That tiny bit of encouragement went such a long way. I don’t know her name, and don’t even remember what she looked like. But I wish I could find this kind Delta Airlines flight attendant today and tell her what a difference those six kind words made.
Madeline did end up waking up again due to the turbulence and cried for the remainder of the flight, but we finally landed a little after 11:00. I wanted to find the attendant on our way out just to say thank you for the encouragement, but everyone around us happily made way for us to exit the plane before they did (they were sick of us by now haha). Once I got Madeline in her stroller and saw my Mama waiting to pick us up, I began to cry again, just feeling emotional from the day. And that ends the story of Madeline’s first time flying.
I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that kindness certainly can go a long way. I felt for sure that the sweet flight attendant was a mama. It was like she completely understood what I was feeling, trying to console Madeline that entire flight after a very long day. You never know what someone is feeling and how just a few words of encouragement can make such a difference in their day.
Also, how awesome is it when we as mamas support one another!! From what the kind flight attendant told me (again, I’m not sure if she was a mama, but I just have a hunch), to all of the great tips of advice and encouragement you mamas gave me through my Instagram, I like to remind myself that we’re all in this together. We are all different people, and no two children are the same, but we all can offer support to one another. One of the biggest blessings through writing a blog has been connecting with you amazing mamas. From encouragement, tips of advice, to kind words, it is an amazing feeling knowing that there are others who completely understand this amazing journey of motherhood. We may not be going through the same things, but we get that this job is the most amazing, most rewarding, most difficult, most emotional, most beautiful journey in life.
I’m sure y’all can now tell by this story that I am not at all an expert on flying with children 🙈 If you actually read this entire story, bless you! Needless to say, we do not have another flight planned anytime soon, BUT I am not completely scared away and would try it again anytime. I still have a lot to learn on flying just me and Madeline, but I am ready to try it all over again (as long as she has had her sleep lol). If y’all have any extra tips for me based on this story, please oh please send them my way.
Overall, If you read this story of Madeline’s first time flying, I hope you felt some encouragement. No matter what you’re going through today, give yourself a pat on the back. As long as you yourself know that you’re doing your very best, that’s all that matters. Not everything will go as planned, and that’s completely okay. Never compare your journey to anyone else’s. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, created uniquely by our loving Heavenly Father. Remember that tomorrow is always another day, and you’re efforts are sufficient. Always strive for improvement, not perfection. And most importantly, remember this: you’re doing a great job 😉