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Months ago I had promised myself that I would NEVER take another plane alone with 3 kids……
Well the phrase “never say never” has never been more appropriate!
Remember my post 1 parent against 3 kids: traveling to Bali with my 3 “angels”? Well, this time my husband had to leave before us for Virginia. Our kids had school so there was no way we could do the trip together. Luckily I didn’t have to cross the whole world this time. I simply had to go on the other side of the country alone with my 3 kids!
Our 1-year-old had officially entered the terrible 2’s early, so I was pretty sure that these two flights were going to be another adventure. However this time I had a good plan!
Here are my 5 tips to improve your travel alone with a toddler and 2 older kids.
1. Take a stroller
My toddler loves to walk all over, but he doesn’t mind sitting in the stroller sometimes. When I am in the airport I do buckle him up, so we can move faster everywhere. He will get mad when he doesn’t want to go in. Honestly I ignore his yells and after a bit that we are moving he gets over it. If he is free to walk he will want to go in the opposite direction of all of us! My daughter on the other hand often wishes that she was still that young. She would love to ride in the stroller! On our trip back from Bali we did put them both in it!
We just bought a more functional stroller for our travels. It is less bulky, definitely more practical for a mommy traveling alone and I love it! Chicco Mini Bravo Lightweight Stroller, is AMAZING! It is very light. There is more room on the bottom and it has an easy access to it. Plus the back goes completely down so Luca can actually sleep! He will fall asleep in the weirdest moments!
2. Try a toddler leash
I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but I was one of those parents that always looked very badly to those that had a leash on their kids backpacks…… until I had Luca!
As I said before he always loves to go in the opposite direction of where we are headed. Worse part is that if he can pick between the road and the sidewalk, he will make a go for the road every time! Luckily he loves to wear backpacks (I think it makes him feel older like his brother). So why not use this excuse to have a leash on him in order to avoid the risk of losing him somewhere around the world?
I tried a brand, but then returned it (don’t you love Amazon for this opportunity?!) because the backpack had absolutely no room. Now I have the Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid and Toddler Safety Harness Backpack, Marshall Monkey. There is more room in it, so you can actually put some toys for the trip. I was able to fit in a little coloring book, 6 hot wheels, 2 bigger cars and his water bottle!
Once he stops running off and will actually listen, I can take off the leash. He will still be able to use it as a regular backpack. Definitely a win win option! There are also different animals to pick from, we love monkeys! Luca enjoys going around with it and I feel a little more safe, specially when I’m on my own.
3. Backpacks for older kids are a most (no leash needed……hopefully)
My kids used to have their carry on trolley suitcases and loved them. The problem was that they would run all over the airport with them and most of the time get at least one person in the legs! It was getting out of control! Once, as we were getting ready to board a flight that was full, their bags were put with the suitcases for lack of space. Of course all their entertainment was inside, so imagine how board they were during that flight! Guess who had to entertain them?!
I finally went and bought them backpacks! There are so many brands, makes, colors, prices to pick from! What I do recommend is to let them pick what they like. After all they are the ones that are going to be carrying it! In fact the rule is that they fill them with what they want, but they have to carry it!
You would be surprised of how responsible they have become in choosing what to bring! Cosimo realized, after our trip to Bali, that he had brought too many cars (which he never played with while we were there), because they were so heavy on his back. Excellent learning experience!
4. Set them free in the airport
We do a lot of walking, playing if there is a play area (some airports are that cool!). Let them get their energy out, after all which kid likes to sit for hours in the same tiny seat? Not mine! Also my oldest, even while watching something or playing on the iPads are still moving all over that seat. But if they got that energy out then they tend to relax more. What about the baby? He might actually fall asleep! Except in 1 parent against 3 kids: traveling to Bali with my 3 “angels”!
For any type of flight, near or far, I always buy coloring books, word searches and anything else that can be on paper and not take too much space. Now Netflix has this great option of giving you the opportunity of downloading your favorite movies. Of course we took advantage of that too! In fact Luca still doesn’t pay attention for too long, but certain cartoons intrigue him more, such as “Sing”, so it was very helpful!
Cosimo and Emma instead love word searches, I had to buy each their own, so they wouldn’t fight, although they would tell each other “I can see the word you are looking for, it is so easy!!!”……I do that too sometimes!!!
How did the flight go?
You are probably wondering, how did the flights actually go in the end?
We took 2 flights. One 3 hour-long and the other 2 hour-long. On the first one Luca was wild for about an hour (he had a little energy rush), but I was able to keep him trapped in our 3 seats. He would climb up and down, open and close the window and try to chat with the seat neighbors. He never tried to walk off, which was a great achievement, considering all the walking we did the last time. We did some coloring (about 3 minutes), finally I turned on his favorite cartoon “Sing” (with no volume). He relaxed and fell asleep.
In the meantime my oldest chatted, played some card games, did their word search, played on the iPads, colored and time flew by very fast.
On the second flight Luca was lucky enough to get his own seat. He was so excited, so he sat as long as possible. Then he started switching on/off the light, called the flight attendant a few times, ate and watched the end of “Sing” He was feeling like a big boy because he wasn’t on mom’s lap!
I cannot complain, this was such an improvement from last time and it will only get better!
So parents in the same boat as me, hang in there! As a lady told me on the flight “we have all been there, too bad some people forget!” Ignore the mean looks and the not so kind words. Appreciate the help and most of all enjoy this moment, because although it is tough, it is also a great adventure that you just took with your awesome kids. You traveled! You got out of your comfort zone, out of your routine and set out to see a new place and share this experience with them. The travel to get there is part of this experience and it makes the best stories when you get back home! Be proud of your kids for embarking in this adventure with you!
I’m proud of my older kids for being helpful and of Luca for being a better baby this time!
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