I'm stressing out, storming around the kiosks like a hot mess, determined to be on time. Got to catch the plane. And then....the dreaded smell.....Code brown, I repeat, code brown. Unfortunately however, no husband at my side for extra hands. Catching a domestic flight back home to see Mum and Dad mid-week on my own seemed like a good idea at the time of ticket purchase....but when everything seems to be going wrong all at once with no extra hands to help, I am forced to channel my inner Macgyver alias to avoid mental meltdown.
And as I hear that well known 80's theme song playing in my head, the adrenaline starts to pump, I focus on my first task, find the baby changing room...
My son in the BabyBjorn in the front, and everything I need (should any Macgyver situation arise) in my backpack. Get the wipes. Where the heck are the wipes? Wipe down the change table, (who knows what delightful gifts have been left there!) Nappy off, singing songs and happy faces to entertain the little guy. Then a Daddy with baby strapped to his chest bursts on in, also desperate to make his flight. We awkwardly laugh and smile at each other, while both secretly stressing if our little bundle of joy is going to put up a fight to get their diaper changed.
Even though we didn't know each other- the fact that we understood each other's frustration and urgency to get things done makes us all of a sudden best buddies. We wish each other luck and rampage back into the airport with kid in tow.
Here's a few tips on my airport experiences on how I troubleshooted the seemingly unsolvable problems that could potentially arise.
1. Allow time and then double it! It always takes longer to get through the airport. As in the story above, last minute code brown, having to feed a hungry baby, simply losing your itinerary or boarding pass only to find them in your pocket all along, or just not getting the car packed in time. There's no need for extra stress like having to pay for a new ticket on Christmas Eve because you missed your flight. (Speaking from an expensive experience).
2. Have wipes, nappies, food, comforter (anything you need) accessible on the outerside of your backpack
For ease of accessibility. Flying can be stressful, so you need access to be fast and easy for the most important things. And there's potentially going to be times baby is going to cry and you can't do alot. Hence why I've mentioned anything that your child finds comfort in e..g dummy, comforter, cuddly, boob even, but unfortunately sometimes, you just gotta hold baby tight and shower them with love.
3. Fly with a kid-friendly airline
As a mummy flying solo I have repeatedly been impressed by the service of Air New Zealand, I cannot recommend them enough. One time, before I discovered the nifty Nuk chains, I was desperately trying to sooth my son with a dummy as the air pressure was too much for his ears. The dummy was knocked out of my hand and fell to the ground. My son's cries began to escalate and as the sweat began to run, I pleaded for the plane to land. The hostess approached with a smile and asked if she could help. I embarrassingly said I'd dropped my son's dummy and she immediately offered to retrieve it, got face down in the aisle and then sterilised it in hot water! Now that's what I call service.
4. Use a checklist to pack
I was freaking about the things I might forget the first time I travelled. When I discovered I was missing an essential item when attending to my son at my destination, I'd make a list so I could add it to my long list of "need to have" items. It's sounds simple but it's super vital, when your anxiety levels are uncontainable and you want to make sure a certain meltdown of atomic proportions doesn't happen next time. That's Mum and baby included.
5. Time your flight for baby's naptime
Then you can experience on takeoff (as shown in the picture to the right) face smush into your chest, and hopefully a semi quiet flight!
And the following tips are for other passengers who are NOT travelling with babies/kids...
1. Give us a chance... Please don't be those people that rolls their eyes, sigh or groan with disgust when you find out we are sitting next to you. I know sitting next to crying babies can be tough, but also parenting on a plane can be tough, especially if you're sleep deprived. AND we definitely don't strive to be that parent who's kid will not stop crying, or desperately waiting for someone to tell us to "do something about it". So please be patient with our kids as we are doing our best :)
2. If we are looking like we need extra hands, we probably do
I always feel a bit sheepish trying to get through the flight and arrivals/departures with a baby strapped to my front and trying to balance many bags. There has been some amazing circumstances where strangers have really helped me, people I've sat next to on the flight who have helped find my son's food (buried amongst all the other necessities,) while I juggled a grizzly bubs, other mummies who've helped clip together my Ergobaby at the back, and gentlemen who've grabbed my luggage off the carousel. You seriously are amazing!!
So back to my story in the introduction, I somehow manage to board my flight in time, breaking a bit of sweat at what seems at the time to be life and death situations. I walk past the Daddy I met earlier in the baby changing room. We give each other a nod and smile, saluting each others efforts for making the plane on time....it's like an unspoken language that we both get, the fact that It's a mission traveling by air with a bubba, but in the end it's totally worth it.