Y’all, I was SO excited to be flying home for my sister’s college graduation this past summer. I wasn’t going to miss watching her walk across that stage for anything. And since my cutie-patootie ten-month-old baby girl was still nursing, she wasn’t going to miss it for anything either!
The one lemon was that hubby couldn’t get off work and come with us too. So, this first-year mama was going to make this flight with baby solo.
Ok. Still excited! But, slightly nervous.
I’m no stranger to flying. I’ve flown a lot of places in my day and have taken a lot of international flights, so I tried to remind myself in the weeks leading up to our grand adventure that I could do this. WE could do this.
Off to Pinterest I went, seeking a little how-to-fly-with-a-baby advice. No luck. All of the advice was for parents with newborns or toddlers. My little crawler was smack in between.
So, I took the advice I could. Consulted a few other parents who’d flown with babies before. Considered what I already knew about flying. And off we went.
The flight there could not have been any more perfect. During the flight home, we hid out in the bathroom for a good five minutes while baby cried and mama fought back tears of her own. All that said, with two flights in the books, I racked up a list of tips that might come in handy for other mamas who will be flying solo with a mobile baby.
Lindsay’s Tips for Flying with a Crawling Baby
Buying Your Tickets:
Get a window seat. If you’re going to try to get your baby to sleep on the plane, this is the best seat because you can cocoon your baby between you and the window, using your body as a shield to block the distractions from people walking down the aisle. You can also control whether the window shade is up or down, which is very important if you want your baby to sleep.
Consider a bulkhead or exit-row seat. I enjoyed sitting in a seat without a row in front of me because I didn’t have to worry about someone reclining their seat into my space, my baby hitting/kicking the back of their seat, or dealing with limited leg room. Of course, the downside to this is you can’t keep your bag at your feet. So, you just want to be sure to grab the essentials out of your diaper bag before putting it into the overhead compartment. But we’ll get to that later.
Buy the pre-check. If you have the option to purchase pre-check, DO IT! You don’t have to take off your shoes or take liquids/electronics out of your carry-on. When you’re flying by yourself, it is a HUGE stress reliever to have fewer things to do while going through security.
Taking the bare minimum is imperative when traveling alone, so check as much as possible. In your one carry-on (yes, get down to one carry-on, even if that means you have to get a new bag) pack the following:
Water bottle (Keep in mind that your cabin will be pressurized. This means if you’re using a water bottle with a straw, you will have a higher risk of leaks or water will spew everywhere when you try to unclamp the straw/bite valve. [Guess how I discovered this!] If you’re flying first class, you’ll be given little water bottles at your seat that you can use if your baby can drink out of a lidless cup. If you’re not in first class, your only other option will be to purchase a water bottle. So, bring a leak-proof sippy cup or water bottle for your baby and fill it partially before you get on the plane.)
Liquids in your ziplock baggie. (TSA requires your liquids follow the 3-1-1 rule.) The only two liquids I packed were hand sanitizer and infant Tylenol.
Diapers and wipes
2 plastic bags (for wet clothes–you don’t need a bag for your diapers since there are trash cans everywhere)
3 small toys – I packed one Indestructible book, one dolly, and one teething toy
Burp cloth (I love the Aden + Anais ones because they can double as bibs!)
Receiving blanket (The Aden + Anais blankets pack up super small and they’re not very heavy.)
Phone and charger
iPad and charger (I loaded a season of Dinosaur Train onto it before the trip. Super helpful when baby woke up mid-flight on our way home!)
At the Airport:
Use a combo of babywearing and stroller. I also wore my baby (in her Baby Bjorn) through security and when getting on/off the plane. The rest of the time, I used the stroller. If you are traveling alone, this combo is essential to sanity and saving your back/arms. For example, you can’t go to the bathroom very easily while wearing an 18+ lb baby, so it’s nice to have the baby contained in the stroller. On the other hand, folding a stroller when you gate-check it is much easier if you are wearing the baby and have both hands free.
Plan ahead for nursing. If you are still nursing by the time your baby is crawling, then y’all are probably on a pretty predictable nursing schedule. You might have to vary it up a little bit depending on your flight schedule and how long it takes you to get through security. But definitely try to stick as close to your schedule as possible. And if possible, wear something that is easy to nurse in. I wore a button-down denim chambray shirt so that it would be easy for nursing and yet still keep me warm in the chilly airplane.
Larger airports may have special nursing/pumping cubes that you can take advantage of. Check your terminal’s directory or check the airport’s website ahead of time to find the location. If they don’t have one, of course you can nurse in the bathroom.
However, I found it was easiest to find a gate with fewer people and camp out there for our nursing session. Some mamas don’t mind nursing in public, but your baby might be easily distracted, and we really want to help our babies get a full tummy. So, finding that quiet(er) nook is really worth the extra walking you might have to do to find it. Keep in mind that there are cameras EVERYWHERE in the airport. Be sure to look UP before letting your little one latch on just to make sure you’re not sitting directly underneath a camera like we naively did!
Let your baby move around as much as possible. Camp out in your little nook or by a window. Use your stroller and carry-on bag to barricade your baby so she can crawl around. This will help your baby’s tummy and get some energy out. Just be sure to wipe those little hands off with a wipe afterward.
Snack and drink a lot. Both of you.
Talk to the people at the gate. Go to the gate agents immediately to put on the tags required for checking your stroller. Ask them if there are any window seats available in an empty row that you can be moved to.
Prepare for diaper changes. Go to the bathroom and change your baby’s diaper ten minutes before the boarding process begins.
On the Plane:
There are two schools of thought as to when to get onto the plane–either try to board early OR very last. I opted for early for the SOLE reason that I wanted to make sure my carry-on went into an overhead compartment directly above me. If we suffered a blowout or some other sort of bodily function fiasco, I wanted that bag as close to me as it could possibly be and not twelve rows back because that’s the only spot that had room for it since I got on the plane last.
If you’re sitting in a seat without a row in front of you, then you won’t be allowed to keep your carry-on bag at your feet. The bag, along with your baby carrier, is going to go into the overhead compartment. (You will check your stroller at the gate.) Before my carry-on went into the overhead compartment, I grabbed the following and stuffed it into my seat or into the little pocket hanging on the wall in front of us:
Water bottle/sippy cup
Bag of snacks
Ask for and accept help. Once you’ve stashed your essentials, let someone else put your carry-on into the overhead compartment. If you haven’t accepted a lot of help up to this point, now is the time to start doing so AND asking for it. Nicely. Don’t be needy, but you want your flight attendants and people sitting around you to realize that you are flying solo. This will be helpful if you find yourself needing an extra set of hands or a pillow or paper towels at some point.
Distract your baby. Try to keep your baby distracted as much as possible while everyone boards the plane. Play. Read. Bounce. Wave to all of the passengers passing by. But most importantly, stay calm.
Realize the flight won’t last forever. You may plan for every possibility, but something won’t go perfectly right. So, just accept it. This isn’t going to be the perfect flight, but it will end. You will land on solid ground eventually. This flight is not forever. None of the people around you will remember you next week. So, don’t worry about them! Focus on your baby. Your baby knows when you are stressed, when you’re happy, and when you’re at peace. The calmer you are, the better shot you’ll have at baby being calm too.
Have a plan for takeoff. Some mamas like to nurse their babies during takeoff because it helps relieve pressure in the ears. I opted not to do this. On the flight out, my baby cried for about a minute, and then she was asleep. Those engines are GREAT white noise! And she slept until about three minutes before we landed. DREAM flight!
Hide out in the bathroom if necessary. The flight home was the one where we ended up hiding out in the bathroom for five minutes. Since I had mentally prepared myself that it wasn’t going to be a perfect flight, like the one we’d had before, I am sure I was better prepared to stay focused on calming my baby instead of totally losing it right along with her. Those bathrooms make a great catch-your-breath spot. So go in there if you need to, even if it’s just to pretend to change your baby’s diaper.
Let other passengers entertain your baby. If your baby doesn’t sleep the whole flight, then use those distractions you brought. Since moving around is a little tricky, especially if they’re a crawler, keeping their attention with your distractions is your primary goal. If you have passengers near you who are taking an interest and making faces at your baby, let them. It will give you a few moments to breathe, and it just might make their day to know they helped you in some small way.
Enjoy the trip. All in all, you and your baby are about to take an incredible adventure together. And you are an AMAZING mama. Be as prepared as you can be. Accept help. But most of all, focus on your baby’s needs.
Did I miss any GREAT tips for flying solo with a crawling baby? Please post them below! I’d love to hear them!
The topic of “Crying It Out” was not the conversation I thought we were going to have during this visit to the pediatrician’s office. I had brought my daughter in with suspicion of an ear infection during a flare up of her asthma. Ears, sinuses, lungs–these things I was prepared to talk about. I wasn’t prepared to have a conversation about her sleep habits. Yet the wise old pediatrician gently walked me into it, and I heard the words I’d vowed we’d never employ with our children. Cry it out.
“Crying It Out” was one thing I wasn’t planning on doing with ANY of our children, no matter what. I’d read plenty of literature on sleep solutions that did not involve crying, and slowly, but surely, those methods were working to undo the bad, new-parent habits we’d gotten our daughter into. But, for medical reasons that are too lengthy to discuss here, I didn’t have the time to make slow progress anymore. She needed to start sleeping better and using the “Cry It Out” method was his recommendation to a speedier resolution.
One of those bad sleep habits we’d fallen into was nursing my daughter to sleep. It’s what I’ve done since the day she was born. I love it. And I didn’t want to give it up.
Well, fast forward a few days and when it was time for bed, my daughter didn’t fall asleep while nursing.
I saw the writing on the wall.
It was time to let her cry it out.
The problem was, I still couldn’t do it.
So, my husband and I decided we’d ease into it and give the “Cry It Out” method a modified approach: One of us laid down with her until she fell asleep. (The typical “Cry It Out” method involves leaving your child in their crib and room by themselves.)
And it only takes you watching your baby cry it out once to realize why most people don’t stay in the room with them. Those baby tears… When I saw them rolling down her plump little cheeks, something inside me broke.
Crying Out to the Lord
Just a few days before, one of my sweet friends lost her baby just four weeks into her second trimester. I was angry at God. She’d had a rough first trimester. The pregnancy was a complete surprise. And I didn’t understand the point of it.
“Why God? Why did you even let her conceive a child if you were just going to take it away?” (No cliche Christian responses with this one y’all. Just being honest.)
I have many other friends who’ve miscarried, but it was like hers was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And when I didn’t hear God say anything back to me right away, it only made me even more angry.
“Why aren’t you talking with me about this God? I’m angry, and sad, and upset.”
As I rubbed my baby’s back while she cried herself to sleep that night, God gave me an answer about my friend’s miscarriage. And as I processed His answer, I understood His heart for me a little bit more than I ever have before.
Even though there are times when I cry out to Him when He feels far away, He isn’t. He’s right there next to me. Holding me. Carrying me. Just like I was right there in that moment with my own child as she was crying out for me.
My daughter is too young to understand why I won’t pick her up and nurse her or rock her back to sleep, and she’s angry. She’s crying out to me, but I’m not answering her the way she wants me to, as quickly as she’d like, and sometimes not at all. She doesn’t understand that what I’m doing, or not doing, is for a reason much bigger than helping her sleep. She doesn’t understand that it’s harder on me to watch her so unhappy, or hurting, or struggling than it is on her.
I thought about what it must have looked like when God watched His Son be whipped, a sharp crown of thorns thrust onto His head, nails driven into His wrists and ankles. Even Jesus cried out, “Dad! You bailed! Why aren’t you here??”
What an array of emotions our Maker must have been experiencing. Knowing exactly why He had to let His Son suffer and using restraint to not come to His rescue.
Last night when I put her in her crib and watched her drift to sleep, I had this overwhelming feeling that maybe, just maybe, the whole reason she had sleep trouble at all, was that so God could show me and my husband more of His heart for us, His children.
Hebrews 12:4-11 (MSG) says,
“So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays of handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”
Reading this passage for the first time through the lens as a parent in the middle of “Cry It Out” sleep training completely blew my mind.
If my daughter could speak to me those first few cry it out nights, she’d probably be asking me, “What did I do wrong? Why aren’t you nursing me to sleep like you have before?? This is so hard!”
But sure enough, as hard as it was to listen to my daughter cry it out and as hard as it was for her to go through that method of sleep training, now she can go to sleep without nursing and without crying. And those medical issues that sparked the entire “Cry It Out” discussion are no longer a concern.
How amazing is it that God calls us His children? That the hardships we walk through God is using for His glory and to bring us into a deeper, more mature relationship with Him.
What trials or valleys have you walked through that God used to bring you into a deeper relationship with Him? Did you see that experience as training or as punishment as you walked through it? I’d love to hear.
It’s summer!! Wahoo!!!! Summer means longer days, popsicles, sunshine, and a change of schedule. While this change of schedule might not yield a change of pace, most of us tend to welcome it with arms wide open, knowing full well we’ll blink and it will be Labor Day weekend, and the craft stores will be pulling out the Thanksgiving decor already. (Why?! Why?!)
I want to savor every moment of summer which means efficiency takes priority when it comes to most of my decisions in regards to my “have-to’s” such as keeping up the home. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in my kitchen, so we eat simpler meals during the summer. I really don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning, but with two fur balls, a crawling baby, two adults in the house, and a home business, not cleaning really isn’t an option.
The good news is that I’ve found that if I stick with a few tidy habits throughout my home, it does stay cleaner, which means I spend less time actually cleaning it and more time outside enjoying summer.
So here they are, Lindsay’s quick tips to a tidy home!
The heart of the home! Do all the dishes before you go to bed. If something needs to be soaked, soak it while you’re putting the kids to sleep, and come back to it before you go down yourself. Invest in SOS pads and a pair of gloves to save your nails. Then, run the dishwasher, so you wake up and every dish is clean. (Because there’s nothing worse than no clean coffee mugs!) Lastly, have a designated spot for “the stuff.” You know, all the stuff that hasn’t made it to its place yet. As much as we want to, we can’t always put everything in its place as soon as we’d like to, and it ends up living (and breeding) on top of our kitchen counters. Have a container–whether it’s a cute little bucket or a breakfast tray–that sits on your counter and keeps the stuff contained until you can move it to wherever it is that it belongs.
Clear the counters off every night. In your master bath, clear them while you’re brushing your teeth. (And if it takes you two seconds, hoorah! Now do some lunges, superwoman!) After you’ve cleared them off, wipe them off, even if it’s just with a damp washcloth.
Invest in laundry baskets, and if possible, have a laundry basket for every type of load you do. This might mean that your baskets are in separate rooms in your home, and that’s ok. We have baskets in our master bathroom, garage, and nursery. It saves me TONS of time sorting, and it keeps dirty laundry off of the floor which keeps my rooms tidy! Lastly, do a load of laundry every day to keep the laundry beast at bay.
Vacuum all carpets on Monday. I got this tip from my mom, and I love it! The house is going to be a disaster after the weekend, so why vacuum it during the weekend? This also forces you to pick up everything, which reigns in whatever chaos might have occurred over the weekend. After you vacuum, do your hard surfaces, and afterwards, treat yourself to an iced coffee. You deserve it!!
Empty all trash cans once a week. If you have a specific trash pickup day, then it makes the most sense to empty your trash cans the night before. If you don’t, pick a day. Might I recommend Monday to coincide with emptying your vacuum cleaner after you vacuum all the carpets? (Is there anyone else out there who thinks the feeling you get after emptying your vacuum cleaner is one of the best feelings??)
Pick up everything before you go to bed. If you have a spot for everything, this makes picking things up a lot easier. I do like having a spot for the “the stuff” in each of our bedrooms though, because as much as I want everything going into its designated spot before I go to bed, that isn’t always realistic. BUT, if I at least have a contained holding spot to put it, I don’t wake up to a mess, and I can get to it when I can get to it. In our master, that spot is an upholstered chair in the corner.
Invest in storage. This doesn’t need to be crazy. A basket for toys. A basket for blankets. A spot for the DVDs. Then, use the storage! Pick everything up and dump it in it’s spot before you settle in for a Big Bang Theory rerun with the hubs.
Our fur children. Bless us. If you have indoor pets, they probably have stuff. Keep their stuff to a minimum, and have a spot for their stuff. But most importantly, keep them groomed. If this means you do it yourself or you take them in to a professional, keeping them groomed keeps them cleaner which keeps your home cleaner which means you spend less time cleaning but just keeping tidy! It’s that simple.
Now go enjoy your pool time, you tidy-home-master!
Do you have any daily or weekly habits that keep your home tidy? I’d love to know! Please post them below in the comment section!
Hey there mamacita. Lindsay here, waving my pink flag from down low in the mommy trenches. Welcome! Gosh, was this anything like what you thought it would be? New motherhood? I know I hadn’t exactly thought that far ahead while pregnant with my daughter! I thought about the words I would speak over her, the love I would show her, the truth I would instill in her. Sure, I thought about breast feeding and diaper changes and milestones and safety precautions, but I didn’t think about what it would really be like down here…
The sleep deprivation.
ALL the laundry.
The complete inability to keep track of time or the day of the week.
The out-of-touchness I now have with the rest of the world.
This feeling that wells up in my heart when I look at my smiling baby that makes me think if it gets any more intense I will surely have to be rushed to the hospital with the diagnosis of “exploded heart due to love overload.”
It’s such a wide range of emotions. If you don’t like roller coasters, it doesn’t matter, you’re on one now in the very front seat! And around and around and around the mommy trenches it rides!
Have you seen the Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom?
My sister and I watched it recently and must have looked at each other half a dozen times and said, “Where has this movie been our whole lives?!” It’s hysterical. Especially if you’re in the mommy trenches. Watch it while you’re nursing or pacing the floor rocking or trying desperately to stay awake during that 6 month sleep regression or three-teeth-teething episode or growth spurt that has awakened your baby from their slumber at 2:30am.
I just adore it. Aside from the cuteness (c’mon, we all love Diane, and that baby girl is presh!) and the scene with the baby thermometer, my favorite part of the movie is…wait for it…wait for it…that she hires a nanny.
(I’m ducking from the things you’re mentally throwing at me right now!)
Yeah, you read that right…that she hires a nanny, and then another nanny, and then another nanny. And by the end of the movie, we see at least four different nannies helping take care of baby Elizabeth.
Y’all, I do not currently have a nanny (yet). BUT, I have finally started taking the advice from wiser women (and my dad), whom I respect, who have trekked through these mommy trenches ahead of me who have said over and over again, “Get help.”
I was at a women’s retreat last weekend and one of the speakers, Karen Abercrombie, a.k.a. Ms. Clara from The War Room, said, “You cannot be all things to all people… You cannot be supermom 24 hours a day 7 days a week… Get help.”
If you’re in the mommy trenches then I really don’t need to explain why you need help. You know you need help and why.
That phrase, “It takes a village,” didn’t come from nowhere. It’s been obvious that childrearing requires more involvement than one set of parents since the creation of the word “village.”
It’s ok to ask for help. In fact, it’s a healthy thing to do. For no more than these following three reasons:
Prevents anger/ burnout / nervous breakdown / feelings of overwhelmingness.
When people you respect come in and lend a helping hand in your life, they just might know of an easier, better way for you to be doing something! Whether it be cleaning a window, helping your baby fall asleep, or saving money on groceries.
Free up energy. When you let someone else help you, it means they are doing something that you do not have to spend energy doing. Therefore, you get to choose where to spend that energy (or maybe, take that time to recoup energy in the form of a nap).
Sometimes the kind of help you need is the kind that needs to be paid for, like housework or lawn maintenance. Or maybe the help you need is the kind that everyone has been offering you since you announced you were expecting: babysitting. Shoot, even just having a friend or family member come over and play with your child while you are still home will provide you the focused attention to get a lot of things done in a short period of time (or the time to take a nap or eat or just step outside and take a few deep breaths). And, like I have mentioned in previous posts, mothers will not offer to help you by watching your child if they do not sincerely want to do it. So, don’t feel guilty asking them. (Pot talking to the kettle over here.)
The truth is these mommy trenches are deep and wide, but only if we let them be. I’m learning with each passing week that digging into the trenches is part of motherhood, but there are a lot of mamas in here with us and people standing on the edges of our trenches offering to swap places with us for a few hours or available for hire to give us a little steadier gait.
So wave your flag, pretty mama. Whether it be pink, or blue, or both! Asking for help isn’t a form of surrender. It’s just calling in the village. You’re in good company. Press on, mamacita. Press on.
I’d love to know, what is the best way someone can help you when you are dug deep into the mommy trenches? And do you ask for help or receive it when it is offered to you? Comment below with your thoughts!
When you’re moving, the list of things to do seems endless: scheduling start/end dates for utilities, contact the post office about mail forwarding, signing/sending/receiving paperwork so you can move into your new residence, registering your kids for school, let everyone who sends you mail know what your new address is, register your pets with the new city you’re moving into, quote movers, quote cleaning services, find a new pest control company, continue to keep up with your every day responsibilities, and oh yeah, PACK!
My husband and I are about to move to our 5th home in just a little over 5 years of marriage. That’s a LOT of packing!! Whether you like to pack or loathe to pack, are super organized or more carefree, have lots of extra time or no extra time, I’ve learned that keeping these 6 tips in mind while packing up my home always makes the packing piece of our moving adventure a little easier.
1. Start Immediately.
As soon as you find out you’re moving, begin to consolidate your existing packing materials (large boxes, packing tape, duffle bags, suitcases, permanent markers, labels, and stuffing such as grocery bags, packing peanuts, bubble wrap) so you know what you have to start working with and you can budget for the materials you’ll still need to purchase. This will help ease the unavoidable financial cost involved with packing.
As much as I do not enjoy packing, I do enjoy purging! Take this opportunity to get rid of the clutter! What you choose to do with the clothes you don’t need anymore and the unused exercise equipment is up to you! Sell it for some extra cash. Donate it and get a receipt for a tax deduction. Give it to someone you know who could use it!
Also go through all the paper that’s accumulated in your home – old files, receipts, coupons. Bust out your shredder and shred the sensitive stuff, and then recycle it all.
Lastly, check everything in your house with an expiration date. You’d be surprised what expires! (Ah hem, toothpaste.) There is no reason to pay someone to move expired stuff. Take an inventory and toss what needs tossing.
3. Do A Little Every Day.
No matter the size of your home or how many belongings you own, doing a little bit of packing/purging every day goes a long way.
4. Pick A System & Stick With It.
Some people like to pack up everything in one room in the same boxes. Others prefer to pack similar things with each other no matter what part of the house they come from. As you get to the end of the packing process, your system is going to probably have to give a little bit. However, if you’ll stick with one system the majority of the time, it tends to help you stay focused and not get sidetracked or overwhelmed.
Labeling serves to benefit you while you’re unpacking, but it has to be done while you’re packing. I use bright colored sticky notes and a permanent marker. On the sticky note I write the room I want the movers to place the box in and its contents in as much as detail as I can fit on the sticky note. Then, I tape it very well to the box, so it won’t fall off. When I welcome my movers into my new home on move-in day, I show them the sticky notes and which rooms are which. This saves me lots of time and stress because they don’t have to ask me where each box needs to go, and once I start unpacking, I’m not hunting through my entire new home trying to find the box with the frying pan in it.
6. Receive Help.
There are a lot of us frequent-movers out there, and we have major empathy for others who are moving. That being said, if someone offers to help you with your move, take them up on it! Often those of us who dislike packing our own things love packing other people’s! It’s crazy but true! Whether someone offers to gather boxes for you from their workplace, to bring you dinner, or for you to use their vehicle during your move, receive it!
Are there any other frequent-movers out there? What tips do you follow when packing up your home?