Recently I took my first solo cross country trip with my 4 boys, ages 5 and under. It wasn’t the most perfect flight but at the end of the day I was proud of how things went overall. If I can do it, so can you and I’ll tell you how.
A few weeks prior I let the boys know we would be flying. As the date approached we would play “airplane” and go through the process of flying. This meant setting up fake security (so cool) and a mock airplane to review the rules to make sure they had some proper flying etiquette. I tried to take advantage of any type of prep. When my son had a family night at the Orlando Magic game and asked what the security line was for, my instant answer was, “to practice for the airport!”
The day before the flight, we sat down and made a list of what exactly we were going to do the next day….wake up, drive to airport, security, check. No surprises help set the expectations. My bag carries only essentials: diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, extra baby outfit, phone, charger, and tons of snacks.
Looking back at the day of our flight, you can see my craziness in full swing. I brought my double stroller, my infant stroller, and my baby carrier. I pushed my middle and little sons in the double and pushed the baby in the infant stroller. Then I attached my ginormous suitcase with a huge strap to the double stroller so it rolled behind us. I’m absolutely sure I looked like a loon. But I really didn’t care because I was determined. Once we got the suitcase checked, things eased up. Actually eased up way more than I imagined….my middle son wanted to push the double and my oldest pushed the baby. Look at me and how easy this is! Haha you take the good moments when you can get them.
We had a Good Samaritan friend help us in the security line which was a big help. I had booked the flight out of Tampa because it cost half as much as Orlando but now I’ve realized the security line was vastly better at Tampa as well! And then, miracle of miracles, outside of the gate for Cleveland bound flights was a small playground. YEAH!!! It wasn’t huge but it only needed to be something to keep my boys occupied for 30 minutes.
The flight was the biggest hurdle. I had refused to let the two older ones play with their new Leappads until we boarded the plane so that took care of them.
The roughest part was with the youngest two. They did each cry about 30 minutes and I tried my best to keep them happy. Unfortunately for everyone else, I’m not one of those perfect parents that passes around treats with apologies for my kid crying on a plane. There is no way on this planet that I’d fill up my entire bag when it’s already overflowing. My lollipops would end up saying something like “If my kid cries, suck it up. I’m trying my absolute best.”
Any parent who has flown with kids knows dang well they don’t want to be the parent with the crying kid and is already working non-stop to keep them happy for the sake of everyone on board. Thankfully we were in a pretty loud section that helped lull the little guys to sleep.
One interesting thing to note….a few weeks later I flew again with the baby. I probably got three times the offers for help as I did when I had all four boys. It’s no big deal and I get it…people are usually staring at the sight of such a big group that offers for help kind of go into the wind. Another thing to note…I think it is JUST as hard to fly with one kid as it is with four. A crying kid is still a crying kid and you are going to put just as much energy into keeping that one kid happy! 🙂 You just feel like less of a pack mule carrying fewer kids and bags!!!