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Travelling with a toddler is hard

15 Mar

1:45pm.  Hannah and I are on the airplane, enroute to Los Angeles from Sydney.  We just reached cruising altitude.  Ooooh, a meal cart is coming….  Guess I shouldn’t have eaten that McDonald’s lunch.  I didn’t think this flight was serving lunch.  Pretty sure the itinerary said dinner and breakfast, so lunch was a BONUS!!!  I always get excited when the food cart comes around.  There’s something fun about not knowing what you’re gonna get until the little cart gets to your seat and they give you a choice of 2-3 meals.  Meals that I didn’t have to cook or think about what to have or eat.  Score.

“I guess I shouldn’t have eaten lunch already.”  The lady next to me said.

“Yeah, me too, but I don’t care, I’m eating this anyway.”

“Yeah, me too!”

They brought the kids meal for Hannah first.  Two patties of greasy looking beef, a warm buttered roll, a non warm, non buttered roll with butter on the side, tater tots (potato gems) some fruit, yogurt, a piece of Cracker Barrel cheese, a piece of cake, a bag of chips, and of course, a Kit Kat.  Hmmm…  that’s a LOT of food!  Hannah ate the cheese and yogurt.  She poked the meat patty with her pudgy little finger, said “no,” and wouldn’t have a bar of the potato gems.    Of course I didn’t show her the chips, kit Kat, or cake.  She doesn’t need that sort of food.  Not that any of the other stuff was that much better, but whatever.

My meal was some sort of chicken with creamy sauce and rice, a rock hard bread roll, piece of cake, and some couscous on the side.  It seems the kiddies get way more food than the adults.  Interesting.

The flight was completely full.  Not a spare seat to be had anywhere.  Luckily, we were sitting next to a married (well, I assume) couple with a 14 month old daughter named Tilly.  Hannah and Tilly played together a lot, even sitting in their bassinets (that were right next to each other), passing a ball back and forth and giggling.  When Tilly went for a walk down the aisle with her parents, Hannah and I followed (if Tilly got to have a walk, Hannah wanted one too…).  They fought over toys and pointed at each other and said “Bubba.”  Ok, that was mostly Hannah, but you know.  It was great having another child Hannah’s age right next to her.

There were lots of kids on our flight.  Some of them would go for walks and say hi to the other kids on a regular basis.  The kids remembered where each other were sitting and deliberately went there to say hi and giggle.

All was well until around 5pm.  For some reason, V Australia decided 5pm was a good time to go to bed and turned out all the lights.  Hannah doesn’t go to bed at 5pm, so she continued to play.  Of course this was very difficult without much light, and the light I could turn on over my seat didn’t really extend to her bassinet (which she liked to sit and play in) or the floor.

“I wonder when they’re going to bring dinner?”  I asked the lady next to me.

“Yeah, I was wondering that too, I asked and they told me that they already served dinner.  ‘Dinner’ was the meal we thought was lunch.”

What?  How could that be?  Seems V Australia thinks that as soon as you enter the airplane, you’re on whatever time your destination is on.  Like people can adjust to that sort of difference on the plane.  Yeah, sorry, but it doesn’t work that way V Australia!

Since there was no dinner coming, I gave Hannah some pre-packaged toddler macaroni, meatballs and vegetables that I brought in case she didn’t want anything the airline had.  She wouldn’t even try it.  Humph.  She usually likes macaroni.  Instead, I made her some instant porridge (oatmeal) that I also brought as a back up.  She ate in between walks up and down the aisle of course.  Sitting and eating an entire meal is just not cool when you’re a toddler.

There was no way Hannah would lay in that bassinet and go to sleep on her own.  Nope, she could easily stand up and get out (fall out) if I left her in there to put herself to bed, so I had to do it the hard way.  I walked her up and down the aisle, patting her back while she cried and kicked, wanting down.  I got tired of walking, and I’m sure all the other passengers got tired of a screaming toddler going by, so eventually I stood in the emergency exit area (that was right in front/to the side of our seat), swaying back and forth, patting her back and willing her to go to sleep.

My arm got tired.  I think it may have been in danger of falling off.  Humph.  I sat back down and held her down on me while I patted her back.  She struggled and squirmed and tried her hardest to get down and play with her suitcase full of new toys that I got at the cheap shops and wrapped up so she would think of long flights as fun and full of presents (she did love opening all of them).  I stood up again, swaying and patting, annoying the daylights out of everyone around us.  The parents of Tilly (never did find out their names) were in the other aisle, doing the same.

The cycle of sitting/patting, standing/patting went on and on.  I seriously thought she may never go to sleep.  She will go to sleep, I kept telling myself, giving me the willpower to keep patting while she screamed and fought.  2 hours later, she was asleep.  I put her in the bassinet.  Phew, now I can relax.

I brushed my teeth, sat down with my headphones, and turned on some in flight entertainment.  Oh yeah, relaxing is awesome.  Especially awesome when Tilly was still screaming her lungs out and looked to be nowhere near sleeping.  And I thought Hannah would take longer.  Yeah, I was feeling pretty good about my mothering skills.

Then Hannah cried.  I was only 1 minute into my show.  Humph.

I held her on me, head on my shoulder, and patted and shusshed her some more.  She went back to sleep.  I waited a while.  I had to make sure she was really asleep.  I moved her to the bassinet.  5 minutes later, she woke again.  Humph.  Back on me she went.  She fell asleep again.  I waited a while, let her sleep on me.  But then I couldn’t feel my arm.  The danger of it falling off was clearly back, so I put her back in the bassinet.  She tried to stretch out.  Humph, she was too long for the bassinet.  Her little head hit the top of tit and went up the side.  She opened her eyes and looked at me, a mommy-why-do-you-keep-putting-me-in-here-why-don’t-you-just-let-me-sleep-what-is-wrong-with-this-bed, bewildered look on her face.  And then she cried.

Ok, so bassinet was out.  She was too big.  I patted her on me again.  Her little eyes stayed open.  She still laid on me, but she kept pointing to things and saying what they were “bubba,” “window,” “man there,” etc.  Once, she said “mommy cuddles.”  Yeah, that one made me smile and give her a big cuddle.  Still, I was on a mission.  I wanted her, needed her to go back to sleep.  I hadn’t had much sleep myself, and that was only intermittent sleep when I fell asleep with her on me for a few minutes at a time.  Plus, I knew how cranky and horrible the rest of the trip would be if she didn’t go to sleep.  She was trying really hard.  She laid on me for two hours, trying to go to sleep, tossing and turning and cuddling in.  Her eyes started getting heavy.  She was doing that thing where your eyes close and then you groggily open them again and they close again, the almost to sleep but not quite there thing.  Meanwhile, Tilly had been peacefully sleeping in her bassinet for quite a while.  Her dad was watching stuff on his laptop, her mum was having a snooze.

Then the lights went on.  It was 12:30 in the morning Sydney time.  Seriously, they were turning on the lights now. Hannah perked up straight away, any hope of sleep completely lost.  She immediately got down and started to play, a new energy pulled from who knows where running through her.

The loudspeaker came on telling us it was breakfast time.  What?  Are they insane, it was 12:30. The middle of the night.  I’m pretty sure no one wanted to eat.  I wasn’t hungry.  I had eaten some protein bars, potato chips, and that Kit Kat for dinner.  Hannah didn’t want any of the disgusting dry, weirdly high pancakes they served her.  My cheese, and spinach fritatta thing was pretty disgusting.  It pretty much tasted like cheese grease.  I did try to eat it.

Despite lack of sleep, Hannah was pretty good for the rest of the flight, only getting cross when we started to descend into LAX, meaning she had to stay put on my lap.

In LA, I put Hannah in the pram, pulled that with one hand, pushed my trolley full of luggage with the other, and went through customs.  She finally fell asleep after I dropped my bags off in the transit area and checked in for my next flight.

Then we got to the security checks.

“You’ll have to take her out of the stroller.”  The TSA workers told me as they looked at me like I was an idiot.

ARE YOU SERIOUS???!!!!!!!! I wanted to scream at them.  I was so tired and cranky I nearly cried.  How DARE they make me wake up my poor little baby who has only had  2 hours of broken sleep all night long.  How dare you! Do you know how long we’ve been flying?!  Do you know how little sleep she has had?  Are you retarded?  Can’t you see she is SLEEPING? Of course I said none of that.  Instead, I made a cranky face and grudgingly hurled all of my things on to the counter.  They even made me take out all the baby food, nappy cream, etc from my bag for x-ray.  They swabbed it all for explosives.  They made me take my shoes off and x-ray those too.  Not just me, this was for everyone. In Sydney, they asked me if I had any liquids in my bag.  I told them lots of milk and baby food and they x-rayed the bag.  They didn’t even want to see it.  I kept my shoes on, and went on my merry way.

“We need a hand check over here.”  The TSA lady said.

“Put it on the counter for x-ray.”  They told her.

“She can’t fold it up, she’s holding a child.”

So after all that, they were going to hand check the pram anyway???  Why not just do it with her in it?  Oh they made me cranky!  I know, national security and all, but after a 13 hour flight, hardly any sleep, and having to wake up my baby, national security could kiss my behind.

We boarded the flight to Seattle and Hannah started screaming straight away.  How embarassing.  This wasn’t just screaming, this was like that “I’m going to die” scream.  I must have looked pretty funny holding her down on me with all my might and patting her back.  I knew she was just tired and would eventually go to sleep.  She did.  She slept nearly the whole 2.5 hour flight.  Not that I could, I had to hold her in place so she didn’t fall and wake up.  Those seats didn’t recline nearly as well as the V Australia seats.  Not to mention they didn’t have infant seat belts like you have to have in Australia.  I asked the flight attendant for one and she looked at me like I was crazy.  “She just sits in your lap.”  She told me.  Hmmm.

By the time we got to Seattle, I was ready to curl up in a ball and cry/sleep, Hannah was crankier than I’ve ever seen her in her entire life and kept saying “home,” and nothing I did would make her happy.

Yeah, travelling with a toddler is hard.  Very hard.


8 Responses to “Travelling with a toddler is hard”

  1. March 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Oh! What a nightmare. I am so sorry for you for having such a tough trip. But the good part is – atleast you have reached your destination now :-)

    • March 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      yeah, but now I have to think about doing it all again on the way home. Sigh……….

  2. Fiona Lavender March 15, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    One word. Painstop. It is a medication for kids that has antihistamine and codeine in at, as well as Paracetomol. haha. The chemist told me to use it if we had issues on the cruise and just needed Annie to go to sleep deeply for a while. We didn’t need to use it, but have had to once for an ear infection, and it worked a treat. Maybe look into it over there for the way home. haha. The long flight at least.
    If you wuld prefer not to though, that’s fine – I’m not against such things in times of need, but I know some people are. I figure it’s no different to taking a sleeping pill. ;-)

    • Fiona Lavender March 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

      As in, no different to us taking a sleeping pill, or a herbal sleeping pill.

      btw, can’t believe the cots are that little!!! Insane. And 12.30am lights on? I would have cried.

      • March 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

        Yeah, almost did….. haha, darn pregnancy hormones!

    • March 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

      Haha, my friend suggested some melatonin or something like that that you can get in pill form at walmart. Said a quarter of a pill puts her little one out very well. Hopefully being a night flight it will be a bit better, she will already be very tired and past her bedtime by the time we depart. Plus, now I know she can’t go in the bassinet, so I won’t even try. The flight was pretty empty at last look, so hopefully it will stay that way so we get a row to ourselves and she can sleep on the seats or floor.


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