‘Airplane Nannies’ Just Demonstrate How Terrified Parents Are Of Traveling With Their Kids

Early this morning, I made my way to the airport. Before I had even rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I was hauling around luggage and remembering last-minute to print off my ticket confirmation. We all know how much fun traveling is.

On this particular Monday morning, my daughter wasn’t coming with me. She’s staying home with her dad while I make a quick business trip. (I’m sure there will be a post later in the week about how much I miss her, even when I know that I should be reveling in a couple non-mommy nights.) But it was pretty easy to imagine trying to get my little girl around the airport with arms full of bags while she clings to her blankie and begs me to pick her up. We went through this just a couple months ago.

This is the frame of mind I’m in as I read about a new service that provides “Airplane Nannies.” Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is. A person who travels on your flight with you and helps entertain your child and keep them happy on the plane. And ya know, quiet. Because a parent’s biggest fear is having the loud, obnoxious kid that everyone’s glaring at.

When I first started reading, I was confused as to why you wouldn’t just bring an actual nanny on your trip. If you’re going to pay for their ticket, after all, why not just pay for the whole trip and have help the entire time? But apparently, these aren’t normal nannies who just want to see the world. “Airplane nannies” are women with basic childcare skills who are already flying for their own purposes.

To obtain a flight nanny, this website matches parents and prospective providers who are going to the same area at the same time. Then, you work with the airline to change seating arrangements and determine your own fee for the in-flight assistance. While it can be argued that the informal match-making allows for a flexible business relationship, I think that it just shows one thing. Parents are terrified of traveling!

Okay, we already knew that. But think about this. Anyone with the money to hire an actual nanny for their vacation or business trip is already going to have a nanny. They’ll already have a trained professional to take care of their children. The only reason for parents to pay for additional help for a couple of hours on an airplane is because they’re literally terrified of the outcome.

Our culture’s collective traveling outrage against parents has created adults who are so afraid of being that parent that they’ll hire someone with no background check or necessary credentials simply to help out. Parents are willing to pay strangers who have never met their children before to sit next to them and help muffle the noises of kids on a plane. This just seems extreme.

I’m sure that there’s a market in single moms traveling with multiple kids. I bet some adults just really want that extra set of hands to calm down the baby while they’re juggling carry-ons and diaper bags. I get it. And at the same time, I think that the main consumers for this service are going to moms who genuinely scared of offending those around them, and that’s a little sad.

Call me crazy, but I find it a tad upsetting that we’ve made traveling parents feel like such outcasts that they want to employ strangers to help them force discipline on their toddlers during four-hour flights. Maybe, we should all just try to lend a helping hand or a kind word to parents who are obviously doing their best. Perhaps, we could smile at the mom who is frantically trying to stop her toddler’s tantrum before another passenger throw their own fit. Then, we might not need Airplane Nannies at all.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

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  • Debbie

    My boss is currently on 3 weeks leave in Canada. It’s the first time she’s taken time off since her 2nd son was born 18 months ago. She is a capable, outspoken business woman who loves to control everything. Yet the most stressful thing on her mind the week before she left was not leaving the office for 3 weeks, not being able to be reached by clients etc but how her 18 month old was going to be on the flight (15 odd hours from Australia).

    The way people treat parents on flights really bugs me. I’m not a parent, and yes a child that is crying loudly is annoying – no one is going to say that they love the sound – but so is those people who stand behind your seat and have a loud conversation at 3am, or have their headphones up really loud so you can hear their music leaking out of them, or the person who’s fallen asleep, snores loudly and falls on you constantly, or the nervous flyer who has to get up every hour to use the bathroom.

    Flying is a pain in the arse for many reason and we shouldn’t make one person feel guilty for something that is often out of their control. If everyone just packed some ear plugs, an eye-mask and if you happen to be sitting next to a parent with a young child perhaps you could be nice to them.

    On a side note, I recently flew a domestic flight that had a young child who was obviously waaay over tired and didn’t cope with the change in air pressure – so naturally he was crying. The man sitting next to me moaned to his wife for about 20 minutes that he ‘had to listen to this for 2 hours’ I felt like turning to him and saying ‘I can’t believe I have to listen to you for 2 hours’

    Don’t feel guilty Lindsay – some people are just jerks

  • The Mommy Psychologist

    I suspect we will see more of this given the recent incident on Jet Blue.
    I’ve been spending lots of time discussing how our generation of parents continues to struggle with disciplining our children. We seem to have lost all control. I expect instances like this will continue. I am by no means exempt from this issue as I struggle with my son’s poor behavior ALL the time.

    Check out the post I wrote about this issue at http://www.themommypsychologist.com.

  • Jackie

    I find it more than a tad upsetting, that parents are so low in skills these days, they feel they have to hire a stranger to do what parents across the world have managed to do for centuries. Raise well behaved children.

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