Two Under Two

There should be a mandatory test to have two children under the age of two. It would involve wrestling an alligator (changing a toddler’s diaper), after drinking a bottle of wine (sleep deprivation delirium), while balancing a book on your head (holding a newborn), and not showering for 2 days (no cool reference, just not showering for 2 days). THIS. IS. HARD. I am constantly reminding myself that this new season of life is short, and although incredibly challenging sometimes (read: Audrey’s tantrums) it goes fast.

Truthfully, I can’t complain. Maxwell is only 4 weeks old and still in that very new newborn stage of life where all he is doing is sleeping, pooping, eating, and back to sleeping. We have been blessed with a unicorn baby so far and that has been a breath of fresh air. He is the calmest little soul I have ever laid eyes on. So the majority of the time it’s been learning to balance Audrey with his schedule. We’ve been doing things a bit different this time around and I thought I’d share.

Baby Wise

With Audrey we did the free spirit, crunchy, let the baby choose the schedule schpeal. FAIL. This is a tried and true method for some parents and children. NOT Audrey. It was an epic fail for us and I wish I would have put her on a schedule earlier. This time around, we vowed we would be “those” parents from day 1. I promised myself we would include Maxwell into our already established routine and form a schedule early on with him. It’s working!! Maxwell has meshed nicely into Audrey’s established wake time, nap time, bedtime. I am hoping we can keep this up because both kids napping at noon and bedtime at 7 is working nicely for this Mama. We’ve been using the Baby Wise schedule with Maxwell and although I know if you Google “Baby Wise” you’ll find thousands of articles bashing it…it’s working for us.

Get Out

With Audrey I was terrified to leave the house and hunkered down for awhile. With Maxwell, hiding out in the house isn’t possible because #1 it isn’t healthy and #2 we have a toddler who has a routine and needs to have social interaction. Within limits, we’ve maintained our normal lifestyle of getting out and about and trying to keep up our norm for Audrey. We’ve been blessed to have Jamari home this entire time and have a plush paternity leave so we’ve been trying to take advantage of that time and do fun things for Audrey and Maxwell just tags along. I think us getting out of the house has helped me tremendously in adjusting to two children so I don’t get stir crazy in the house. Full disclosure though, I haven’t attempted going out solo with both kids. That will happen this week…pray for me. For all the Moms I previously judged for having their newborns out and about before I had kids, I am sorry. I am not sure why people expect you to hibernate after having a baby, but personally my hibernation with Audrey was detrimental to my mental health and being out is much healthier.

Less is More

I had SO much baby gear when it came to newborn Audrey. Lesson learned was that very little of said gear was ever used and it was ridiculous. With Maxwell I am relying on very little and it is working out much better. These little humans really don’t need much and I wish I hadn’t purchased every “must have” item on every list I searched on Pinterest with Audrey. When I mean we are working with limited items, I mean we pull our stroller/bassinet into the living room and that is his “crib” while downstairs. He takes all his naps there, it’s safe from Audrey and Kingston, it required no extra purchase since we already had it for Audrey, and I am ready for a walk at a moments notice (HAHA, like I go walking). I didn’t even purchase new blankets and you can find Maxwell swaddled in lots of purple and pink blankets being recycled from Audrey.

Breastfeeding

I am a fed is best motto Mama. Audrey was formula fed and Maxwell is being breastfed. I have zero passionate connection to either and don’t care to debate if one is better because the only strong feeling I have is that as long as the baby is fed…you’re doing your job. I am breastfeeding Maxwell this time around for a few reasons; it’s easier to do with a toddler running around, it’s working out for us this time around, and it is saving us money because formula is ridiculously expensive. We plan to transition him to formula eventually but 4 weeks in this has been the easier solution for us.

Confidence

This isn’t my first rodeo and it feels good knowing that. I am more confident as a parent and my abilities. Being totally honest, I have no clue what I am doing as a parent most times and am completely winging this, I am confident that I know Audrey and I am doing what is best for her most times. Jamari and I know our strengths and weaknesses as parents so we don’t bicker with each other with expectations of one another. Everyone told us that with the second child you feel more confident which makes it easier and that is the truth. To a degree, we know what to expect and even if something random pops up; we know it isn’t the end of the world. Maxwell currently has jaundice and although something we aren’t familiar with, we didn’t panic and freak out like we would have the first time around. We just flow with it. I think this comes with knowing you managed to keep another human (other than yourself) alive previously that you suddenly gain a confidence that you can' handle pretty much anything that comes at you. Except vomit. I can’t handle vomit…still.

The past 4 weeks have been completely different for both Jamari and I than our first 4 weeks with Audrey. Emotionally, I am handling this postpartum period much better and healthier. Physically, I bounced back quicker although you don’t have much of a choice when you have another little person relying on you. Spiritually, I am praying for more patience than i ever had before but reminding myself this is a season of life that I will someday miss but until that day I am eternally grateful for routine and bedtime. Jamari and I realize that some days will be more challenging than others but at the end of each day, we are beyond blessed to have each other, two healthy children, and a cabinet full of wine.

I was an expert parent before I had a baby

I should’ve known when I left my 5 page laminated birth plan sitting on the counter in the rush to get to the hospital that my excessive pre-planning for what I expected to do as a mother went out the door. I planned, typed, laminated, and prepped Jamari with this far fetched birth plan that included; no medication (HA!), meditation music, positive low voice mantras, warm showers and essential oils. We rolled into the hospital parking lot with me grasping the edge of the seat, demanding the medication in the parking lot, in a growl I didn’t know my voice was capable of. Needless to say, I learned quickly to be flexible with expectations.

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Breastfeeding

Breast is best, right? *eye roll* Mom and baby being healthy is best. Sure, it’s super fantastic, beneficial, and you deserve some kind of medal if you can breastfeed your child but…it is not for everyone and that is fine. Nothing gets me more riled up than judgement from other moms, but that is for another post. I was determined to breastfeed Audrey because all the research led me to believe that my child would fail to thrive without me doing so. I struggled in the hospital, I had multiple lactation consultant visits, hired a private lactation consultant to do home visits, had Audrey’s lip-tie reversed, and would “latch” for 16 plus hours a day. I was miserable because Audrey was miserable. I developed painful thrush and mastitis, my diet was causing issues as Audrey is lactose sensitive and she’d scream for hours on end, and PPD and breastfeeding were a difficult mix. Reluctantly I tried formula, and she no longer screamed in agony. I felt like a failure until Jamari was able to let me sleep through a feeding and he could feed her. #formulaisamazing. My point is it doesn’t matter if you formula feed, breast feed, pump, or receive milk donations, if baby is fed and healthy and mama is healthy that is all that matter.

No Pacifier

I was so positive that I wasn’t going to give Audrey a pacifier I didn’t purchase one before she was born and refused them in the hospital. Why would I put a plastic, artificial nipple in her mouth? I was going to breastfeed on demand! When she was demanding to feed for hours and hours at a time and I was emotionally and physically drained I caved and gave a pacifier. I was not going to think about trying to wean her off when she was a toddler during those moments. Sure, she is addicted to it now but I don’t really care. In parenting, you cross one bridge at a time and pacifiers aren’t a battle I am ready to conquer yet.

No Screen Time

“Parents who hand their kids electronics are so lazy”- Pre-Parent Maureen.

“Audrey, do you want to watch Baby Einstein?” Post Audrey Maureen.

While I still believe that children shouldn’t stare at screens all day there is a time and place for all things. When Jamari was working overseas and it was just Audrey and I, it became survival mode and I learned that I could get one chore done if I turned on a nursery rhyme show for her. Before Audrey, our TV was always on in our house and that hasn’t change because of her arrival. Most of the time she doesn’t even look at it and she is pretty convinced that the iPad is only for video chatting and her Baby Einstein show. She doesn’t play games yet or ask to use the iPad, but honestly if she did, I wouldn’t feel a need to defend that. In 2018 things are different, screens are how children learn in schools. While I am adamant about reading to Audrey daily and have over 50 books in her growing mini library, I do believe that screen time is beneficial with limits. So, my pre-parent self where I would totally eye roll a mom in Panera allowing her kid to watch a show on her phone…I am sorry, you eat that panini in peace sweetie.

Video chatting with Grandma is one of Audrey’s favorite things to do

Video chatting with Grandma is one of Audrey’s favorite things to do

Organic Everything

I tried. Then, I realized it was completely ridiculous to think I could ninja jump across the room to intercept snacks that she may receive at birthday parties, church nursery, and everyday life. When I was pregnant with Audrey, I was such a nut-case that I cringed at clothing that wasn’t organic cotton, because no child has ever survived not wearing pure organic cotton pajamas, amIright? I didn’t want plastic toys, only wooden. No silicone teethers, only wooden. Organic foods, organic bedding, organic diapers, organic lotions and washes. (Thanks for putting up with me and not laughing in my face, friends.) I quickly realized I would have no friends and neither would Audrey if I kept up this craziness. Also, It isn’t realistic when living in a real world. While I am still a bit of a loon when it comes to her mattress being organic (I have no reasoning other than it sounds better), she wears organic diapers,T and uses organic soap, I have loosened up greatly about everything else. While I try to limit her exposure to chemicals and keep her world as natural as possible, I wasn’t completely committed to an organic lifestyle before her so it’s a bit difficult for me to make that commitment now.

Baby Led Schedule

I read many articles while pregnant that baby led schedules are more healthy for development than rigid time line schedules. It allows you to take cues from your child on what they need, whether that be eating, sleeping, or cuddles. I have a lot of friends that use this method and it is super successful and their children thrive. Mine, did not. Audrey has a strong personality and has from the moment she was born. She needs structure…WE need structure with her. My life was a chaotic and emotional mess when I was trying to understand cues while dealing with PPD. That is where my schedule came into effect. I received advice from a seasoned dad in the early days with Audrey who told me, “children depend on consistency.” Those words rattled in my head day after day when I was trying to interpret what she wanted/needed and changing her routine each day. Once I implemented a strict schedule, our days became easier because we both knew what to expect.

Mom Groups/Outings

I was going to be involved in errthang mommy related! Mommy and me yoga, stroller strides (HA! That’s working out), Moms Club, coffee clubs; sign me up! Nope. No, thank you! I do not have the personality for that. In fact, I was “uninvited” to a Moms Club because they felt I wasn’t a good fit after having a disagreement at the meeting when I was told that I was feeding my baby poison by giving her formula. Their loss, because I make awesome pre-made Trader Joe’s cinnamon buns I planned to bring to the next meeting. I did find happiness within Gymboree and have a great group of mamas from there that I am grateful for, but as for the anticipated signing up for all things mom related, it didn’t happen. I am not sure if it is the California culture or if it is too many ‘pre-parent Maureen’ moms that join these kind of groups, but it isn’t for me. If I can find a Moms Club that condones allowing their children to play freely on the playground, while our hair is a mess, and talk about crime shows then I am willing to be the president; until then, I will continue to hang out with my small circle of normal mamas I have found here, where I am accepted for never wearing makeup, having my hair done, or wearing real clothes( totally a pariah in So. Cal.). They understand my love for Starbucks and Audrey’s love for Chik-Fil-A fries, and we encourage wine drinking with outings with the local wineries.

What I want to really focus on is every parenting technique is individual, there is no manual to raising little humans, and it is truly trial and error. What works for one family, may not work for another and that is totally fine. Pre-parenting Maureen was so judgmental of other parents. I would make snide comments about other people’s way of doing things and have conversations with myself saying, “I would never…”. It all changes when you become a parent. What I have learned in 14 short months is that you have no idea what is happening in someone else’s world. That Mom who is letting her child play with her phone while she sips on a latte, that might be all that is holding her together in that moment. That 5 minutes of serenity might be allowing her to regroup herself. That mom who is bottle feeding, might have tried for hours on end and suffered multiple infections attempting to feed her baby, then cried endlessly when it all failed and she doesn’t need any judgement. Pre-parenting Maureen had all the answers and absolutely no experience. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and the best advice I can give now is be flexible. Instead of judging I now smile at parents like a comradery, we are all in this together.

Two Thumbs Up For Sleep Training

I can’t attempt to speak for every family, but I can write about what works for ours. For ten long and unbearable months Audrey didn’t sleep through the night. I am not talking once or twice waking up for feedings, I am talking about 17 plus times a night. I was a walking zombie and was taking my frustrations of sleep deprivation out on everyone I could. It was around the 10 month mark that I truly understood why sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture. Jamari returned home from an overseas trip and declared that we were done with waking up in the middle of the night and as responsible parents we had to teach Audrey how to sleep since she wasn’t catching on herself. Insert…sleep training. *cue horror music*.

Audrey has a very strong willed personality so after reading up on a few different sleep training methods we decided the more delicate techniques would never work for her. I couldn’t stomach the idea of not starting off gentle with the “no cry” methods, so we tried those first. FAIL. She would get so upset she’d hyperventilate when we left the room. It wasn’t a cry that was indicating that she was hurt or sad, it was very clear that she was pissed off. That is when Drill Sergeant Daddy came in full force and sent me into the guest room and took over. I scoured the internet as I listened to her screaming waiting for my Tylenol PMs to kick in. It was horrific. Article after article said that she would stop after 30 minutes. She didn’t. “If it goes more than an hour, go in and check on her.” Nope! Drill Sergeant Daddy was standing guard so I couldn’t go in the room. He kept telling me to put on headphones and watch a movie. I couldn’t understand how the screaming was not affecting his psyche like it was affecting mine. His mantra for the night was “you can’t scream forever, eventually you’ll go to sleep”. Night 1 was the worst of it. 3.5 hours later she finally stopped screaming, and the Tylenol PMs kicked in for me and we both slept. I remember rushing into my bedroom after the screaming stopped for 120 whole seconds (I used the timer app on my phone every time she would stop) and whisper-yelled to Jamari “OMG what happened?!” That night was the first night I reclaimed my sleeping and I have never looked back!

Night two and three went better, the crying went from 3.5 hours to 1.5 hours, to 30 mins. We were cutting back the cry sessions each time. I must confess, it never gets easier to hear those cries but I have learned that Audrey has different sounding cries. They are more of a protest than a cry. Now that we are months into this sleep training bonanza we put her to sleep at 7 pm and get her from her crib at 7 am. She may wake up in the night a few times, but she has learned we don’t come in the room, so she grabs a pacifier and soothes herself back to dreamland. The same goes for nap time. She actually enjoys sleeping and never gives us a hassle. It was a new beginning for us because we now had our evenings together and we no longer had to play the “your turn” game 17 times a night. Audrey was much better rested and was in a better mood during the day. It was definitely a game changer in our household and months later, I still come downstairs after putting Audrey to sleep and thank Jamari for making me stick to this routine.

Now, let’s have the dreaded conversation about the sleep training debates. There are people on each side of sleep training that either feel it works or it is cruel. Some Mama’s prefer to cuddle their little ones and co-sleep so that their babies never have to experience crying and are soothed by them being close by. That’s totally fine in my book. Some parents believe that you should respond to every cry and it is emotionally damaging to allow your child to cry out with no response. You will never hear me say one parenting method is right or wrong, because I have no idea what I am doing in this parenthood role. I just know what works for my family. For us, we could not sleep with Audrey in our bed, none of us slept when she was in our room as an infant so co-sleeping definitely wasn’t working for us. She slept better (including the 17 wake ups each night) in her room from 5 months old. Audrey is well adjusted to this routine and I’d go as far as to say she now loves sleep. When it is around nap or bedtime she asks for her milk, she waves bye to whoever is around, and starts marching herself up towards the steps.

Below are some quick tips for how we successfully sleep trained. (Until the next developmental leap which will send us spiraling down into a regression and I will have to re-read my own post for sanity):

  • Start on a Friday night (or whenever you and your partner will be off the next day)

  • Hunker down for a long night. Mentally prepare yourself that this may take hours.

  • Put them in the crib drowsy but still awake. If they are already asleep then when they awake during sleep cycles it might cause more anxiety and the crying will continue.

  • Be on the same page as your partner. If one person is all in and the other is teetering on the edge this will not work. You will need each other’s support.

  • Be consistent. Children are SO smart. If you decide on the ‘Cry It Out’ method and let them cry for 45 mins but then walk in the room, they now know that you will enter and those 45 mins are down the tube.

  • Tylenol PM for 3 nights will not destroy your liver…take the pills, put on headphones, and binge watch a show until you fall asleep.

  • The smile in the morning is completely worth the tears the night before.

  • Turn the monitor sound off. You will hear the crying without the monitor. You don’t need it to be in stereo.

  • Above everything else, you know your child and yourself. If you truly feel your child will not ever stop crying or you can’t bring yourself to do CIO, then don’t. Google “sleep training methods” and find a different method that may work for your family.

5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity as a SAHP

Being a stay at home parent is a blessing in many ways; I am there to witness every milestone, I am able to teach her new things daily, we have fun outings, and I never have to put real pants on. Being a stay at home mom also means, I get to experience every melt down, I have no break, and no adult human interaction until I go through Sheryl’s line (Target cashier), or Jamari comes home from work. It’s a guilt trip every single parent goes through (and if you don’t, we can’t be friends because you are a liar). You want to stay home with your kiddos but when you actually do…you miss the freedom and identity that outside employment provides you.

Here are 5 of my sanity tips for stay at home parents.

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Wake up before the baby

Being sleep deprived is miserable and I truly believe every parent is sleep deprived until their kid is out of the house. So why would you want to wake up any earlier than your human alarm clock? Because you’d be amazed how 15 minutes of waking up by yourself and getting to brush your teeth in peace will start your day. I wake up before Audrey to purposely read news headlines, read my daily Bible verse, pray, check social media, brush my teeth, and occasionally get a cup of coffee in. Although, I normally don’t get out of bed and start moving around until I hear her, it starts my day better when I have a few minutes of start-up without the abrupt shutter of a crying human.

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Get out of the house

Sure, it is easy to stay in the same pajamas for 3 days and never leave your house. I would be lying if I said I never fell into the SAHM vortex and did that, but it is really unhealthy (and gross). I make a plan every day to go out once. If it means that I walk aimlessly through the aisles of Target and collect $50 worth of stuff I didn’t need, then that is the risk I am willing to take. It is essential for my mental health to see other humans. It is also good for Audrey to get out and socialize. Our standard stops are Target, Trader Joes, Starbucks, Marshalls, Gymboree, and the park. As ridiculous as it sounds it gives me something to look forward to and it also forces me to brush my hair and put real clothes on. FYI: “real clothes” are stainless and freshly’ish washed yoga pants, t-shirt, and mom bun.

Carve out couple time

I could never understand pre-Audrey how couples become so obsessed with their kid that they never leave them for alone time. I still can’t. While I adore and cherish my time with Audrey and love when we spend time together as a family, I NEED time with my husband. We have a designated “date night” every week. We are fortunate that Audrey goes to sleep at 7pm every night so we have a lot of time to spend together each night, but once a week we get to go out sans Audrey to enjoy each others company. It is crucial for us to keep dating each other and staying connected. Our marriage was strong before Audrey and we are committed to keeping it strong now. I cringe when I read posts on Moms groups that say they haven’t been out with their husband since their child is born (and their kid is 2). Our dates don’t have to be elaborate, some of our favorites are sitting in the local In and Out while chatting, but it’s a few hours of time with just him and I and that’s special.

Meet other stay at home parents

Being home all day with your child can be isolating and after suffering with postpartum depression the isolation was suffocating. It was important for me to connect with other parents. I attempted to join a “Mom’s Club” but that was horrible. So we joined Gymboree, which was a game changer for me. I am able to get out everyday, do something fun for Audrey, and chat with other adults. Gymboree was so much easier than waiting by my window with Audrey prepped in the stroller and running out the front door to introduce myself to any random woman I saw passing by with a stroller. (Don’t laugh, I did this for months)

Self care is so important

I talked about the stay at home parent vortex that sucks you into wearing yoga pants and a mom bun daily because it is so easy. I admit 90% of my wardrobe is “active wear” but that is totally in style now and that counts as a win. Something clicked when Audrey was around 3 months old (read: my meds kicked in) and I realized I needed to care for myself in order to be able to care for her and Jamari. Even though I can’t call in sick to work, I can certainly call in a sitter, and I do. I often call a sitter to come over while I go up to my bedroom, take a nap, take a bath, apply a face mask, and binge watch shows while eating snacks I don’t have to share. Some call it selfish, I call it brilliant. This little act of self love allows me some time to myself and it makes me a nicer person which is a win win for everyone. You are no good when you are worn out, stressed, and unbathed.

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There are days when I search the internet endlessly for another career, and the time will come where I will re-enter the corporate world. But in this season of life, my career is being wife and mama and while it is harder than any other job I have ever had I adore this opportunity.

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Fatherhood Lacks Expectations

This has gone on for too long and it needs to be addressed! I am hopping up on my soap box and bringing the topic of “fatherhood” to light. I am positive that I will offend a few in the process, but it’s 2018 and you can’t order a coffee without offending someone (sorry vegans, I love dairy).

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Before I go on my rant, let me explain a little about my husband, Jamari. From the moment we found out I was pregnant he fully jumped into fatherhood with both feet. He never missed a doctor's appointment, was my labor coach, completed all the firsts for Audrey (diaper, bath, swaddle), has never missed a pediatrician appointment, and is told almost daily that he is remarkably hands on. But I wouldn’t expect or accept anything less. (Which is why I have been stewing about this blog post.)

In our home everything is shared and I can confidently go away for days knowing he has absolutely everything under control. He knows and responds to Audrey’s whines, understands her attempts at communication, learned her ASL, and knows her routine. He is as good as I am, if not better because he has the patience of a saint and doesn’t swear.

Jamari is my husband, partner, Audrey’s father, my equal…right? Until it is time for me to go out solo or take a shower then he becomes her ‘babysitter’? WRONG! I am peeved when I am asked if Jamari is “babysitting” Audrey. No, he is parenting. No one asks if I am babysitting when I spend all day with her running errands or home with her when Jamari runs to the gym. I am not sure when it became socially acceptable to assume a father is less than a mother in terms of duties and responsibility but in our home I promise it’s equal. Granted, I am home with Audrey more and understand her routine more because of being a SAHM but every single task completed for Audrey can be and is done by either of us. My heart breaks when I hear other Mamas tell me that their husband, “wouldn’t even know what to feed them” or “I can’t leave him with the kids, he’d be overwhelmed”. Why is this being accepted? Both parents should have an active role in their child’s growth, well being, and health which translates that both parents should feed them, bathe them, and change that nasty diaper! It is insulting to Mom’s and Dad’s alike to expect anything different. While the world is concerned about stepping on toes offending the newest fad diet or wearing leather, why are we not peeved when Dads get a round of applause for everyday tasks Moms are assumed to do? Don’t get me confused here, I am not saying I am not appreciative for the exceptional man I am married to and chose to parent a child with. But, I am insulted when he receives a pat on the back for carrying Audrey in the carrier, pushing the stroller, putting her to sleep, or staying home when I go to get my nails done.

Until people stop treating dads like a secondary parent with ridiculous accolades for things that should be expected, I will continue to correct the comments with, “he is a parent” . Although, I will publicly say, THANK YOU for the extra weekend sleep I get and never ever calling me to come home because you couldn’t figure something out. * High Five * To the dads out there who do the same things I do as a mother, who whole-heartedly accept their role as a father and don’t look for compliments, and Moms, who constantly have to defend the equal role policy in their homes. The world will catch up one day…

…End rant.

Flight Survival with a 1 Year Old

Fresh off the tarmac of LAX from NYC and while the chaos is still churning in my mind I felt obliged to write my five tips for flying with a toddler (one year old). This was Audrey’s 9th flight and by far the worst. Picture it, 5.5 hours of screaming, whining, up and down on my lap, snacks were thrown, water was spit, to the point that other passengers began volunteering to take turns holding, walking, and entertaining her. Today tested our patience but we survived and despite Jamari’s threats to never fly with her again (he says that every time) once the anxiety from this flight subsides we will be on to planning our next trip.

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1. Board Last- When the announcement sounds for “families flying with small children” blares over the sound system restrain your desires to board the plane. Sure, it’s exhilarating to board first knowing you are Group 5 and to think of all the overhead storage options you’d have. No! Go do a final diaper change when they start boarding and organize yourself. If you are traveling with someone, they will likely allow for you to let that person on to get situated with your things but if not…no worries I have a hack for that. The last thing you want to do is board the plane and attempt to entertain your little minion for an additional 45 mins while all other passengers board. You won’t want to sit on the plane any longer than absolutely necessary so get on during final boarding call. Remember the chocolate for the flight attendants I mentioned in my previous post? They will find you room for your things, I promise.

2. Last Seat is Yours- Ideally the bulk-head seat is best when traveling with kids, but I have found that most airplanes now use that as an exit row which means no children can sit there. For this reason, there is only one other option to give you sanity on the flight, the very last seat of the plane. The one that doesn’t recline, is noisy, next to the bathroom, and is usually empty? That’s your seat! No one likes this seat and you will want to use this to your advantage. If you are flying solo, then book the aisle seat for easy access to get up and move. I no longer sit next to the window with Audrey since she disassembled a window in-flight when playing with the window shade. If you are lucky enough to be flying with someone, have them book the window and you book the aisle. I’d bet that 9 times out of 10 the middle seat will be empty, giving you some extra space. Now, why this seat? My kid is loud, SUPER loud. This seat allows for some of her noise to be muffled. Not sure about you, but I don’t like to have to wave every 3 minutes when the kid in front of me pops up to play peek-a-boo. Out of concern for other passengers sanity, Audrey can pop up as much as she wants and entertain herself with the wall behind me. The seat not reclining doesn’t phase me when I have her on my lap, I am not going to get any sleep anyway. And the bathroom traffic is free entertainment. Sure, you will have the random buffoon who doesn’t want to smile at your child, but most people will entertain her as they wait in line for the bathroom.

3. Schedules Keep you Sane- This isn’t for everyone, but Audrey is very regimented with a schedule. Consistency is key in our household. Even though we may be out and about or traveling, we attempt to maintain her schedule. When picking a flight we try our best to avoid a red eye because we know she isn’t a plane sleeper. Daytime flights are better for us and we try to keep our flights like our days at home. Eat, play, watch a show, read a story, attempt a nap, repeat. Your energy is contagious, so remain calm and hopefully your little one will be calm. Writing this section is a complete joke for the flight we just got off. NOTHING would stop her from fussing/screaming. That’s when you just take a deep breath, turn on the flight map, and repeat, “this will end” until you are in a better mental space.


4. Accept Assistance- If you know me, then you know that no where else in the entire world would I accept assistance from a stranger with Audrey. But, at 35,000 feet, on hour 4.5 of screaming, when I am at my wits end; I will accept the help. There are good people in this world and most are parents themselves. Travel is hard for anyone and it is especially hard to a one year old. So, when that passenger who you have never seen before and will never see again comes along side you and offers to hold your kid to give your arms a rest…let them. As long as they are in your eye sight, and you don’t get the creepy vibe, then go for it! Use your Mommy-sense and your child’s creep-a-meter on this one. Sometimes a different person is exactly what Audrey needs for 5 mins to distract her from her previous meltdown. I’ve had my share of stares, huffs and puffs, and comments from passengers less than thrilled to hear her on a flight. I get it, it is annoying to hear a crying baby, and I am as annoyed as the other passengers but I promise that I am trying everything I can to make it stop. Jamari has taught me that I could spend all my energy fighting the negativity I face on a plane or I can put that energy into surviving the flight. Every now and then “NJ Maureen” slips out with a response to a comment I overhear but I TRY to tell myself that those people are miserable and probably had no fun in their childhood which trickled into their adult life. The flight will end, all the crankys will get off, the nice people will tell you that, “you did great”, and everyone will continue with their day.

5. Organization is Key- Keeping yourself organized will prevent YOU from having a meltdown. I am big fan of packing cubes to keep things organized. When you are traveling alone it is a completely different experience than traveling with someone else that can help. Regardless, being organized helps either way. I use carabiner clips to connect things to the seat in front of me to avoid things from falling into the black hole (aka the floor). I wrote a post about how I keep my diaper bag packed for travel but I unpack it and put the cubes under the seat in front of me to be able to grab things easily. Her toy cube, the diaper/wipe cube, snack bag, and I attach her water bottle to the seat in front of me. It prevents rifling through the bag, pulling everything out, and stuff getting lost. Do yourself a favor and keep a small plastic bag for your trash so you can easily hand it to the flight attendant.

Another flight in our books and more trial and error. Do you have any in-flight travel tips?