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Flying solo with 2 under 2

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let me just say I had anxiety leading up to these cross-country flights for the first time. Traveling with a newborn? NBD. Traveling with spouse and a newborn and a toddler? Easy peasy. Flying solo with Two active toddlers? I'll just hide in this corner thank you very much. Well, I survived. Sanity still intact - and honestly, I was up to the challenge so here's the 411 on how it all went down.

Flying from NYC to JFK we were on a 5:45am flight. Yes, you read that right. AM. I don't even wake up that early for working out or anything for that matter. But in my head, the girls would be so tired from waking them up mid-sleep, shuttling them to airport, and all the check-in security madness that as soon as we sat down, they'd return to being knocked out. It could also backfire on me, and they'd just be up and I'd just be exhausted but fortunately the former happened and we all got 5 hour naps on our flight. #winning.

The return trip however was a different story. With a 3:25pm flight, I attempted to divert their usual 1pm nap time to takeoff. Winter made it. Nyla didn't (as I expected). We made it to the airport early so we had lunch, a run-through around the gift shops, and anything else I could think of to just expend some of that energy. However it was all for naught once we boarded. A passenger double booking and a broken overhead bin had us on board, at the gate, sitting for an hour! Argh! Bubbleguppies thoroughly kept Winter entertained but Nyla? Game on. Whatever she wanted to do, I pretty much obliged as long as it didn't bother other passengers. Stand up and walk back and forth between win's and i's seats? Go for it. If she ventured to the aisle, that was fine too as long as she wasn't in anyone's way en route to/from the bathroom. Climbing on my lap and back off? Yep, go for it. Eventually we took off. The buzzing plane engine and winter's missing nap caught up to her and soon she was out. Nyla and I quickly followed suit. Nyla,with her catnap from earlier, did her regularly scheduled 2 hour midday nap - leaving me with having to entertain her with a 3 hour rotation of stickers, iPad, tv, and snacks - wash rinse repeat. Somehow we made it sans meltdown - winter woke up with 2 hours left of flight time that was easily filled with paw patrol, pj masks, and doc mcstuffins (thank goodness for Jetblue's direct tv!). At 12:45am we were touching down in JFK. I did it!!!!!  #givemeamedal. 
Did you know you can check car seats free of charge? After debating whether to rent/buy car seats in LA I found out you can check car seats free on jetblue. I used this bag and was able to put extra diapers and clothes buckled into the car seat  
  • We were only in LA for 3 days so I packed light, keeping our gear in a duffel bag that I stowed in the bottom basket of our stroller. toiletries and snacks were packed into a bookbag. 
  • This left me hands free, able to snatch a runaway toddler at any moment which didn't happen because...
  • We got through the airport using Nyla's infant car seat on stroller and a boogie board for winter to stand on. If Nyla got restless, I switched her over to the bjorn. 
  • For the flight, I packed winter's bookbag with a fully charged iPad, 2 mini fun packs each containing a pack of crayons ($1 from michaels and themed from anything to Star Wars, Dora, to teenaged mutant ninja turtles, paw patrol, doc mcstuffins and more), activity book, and stickers; snacks like goldfish, cereal snack boxes, graham crackers and applesauce pouches; an extra multipack of stickers ($1 from michaels) and a few toy figures and hot wheels cars just to mix it up. Winter carried this and I did end up going through a rotation of contents to keep Nyla engaged. Good to be prepared!
  • If you can book a flight to coincide with naptime do it.
  • I use the bjorn in my seat while holding Nyla but she isn't strapped in as they instruct. If she falls asleep I strap her in sideways only using the top clips - this is more of a backup in case I fall asleep, it'll hold her in place. 
  • If someone offers to help hold or watch, don't be quick to say no. It may be a fellow mom, auntie, daddy who is totally emphasizing with you. Say yes!!
  • Speaking of which, flight attendants might even be that helper and to that I say yes thank you!

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