It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays! You know what I mean: you have to avoid 85% of Walmart aisles because grabby toddler hands are too enticed by the explosion of Christmas offerings, the annual marital battles over the thermostat heat up (get it? Heat up?), and it’s time to think about the dreaded T word. Travel.
Lucky you, I just took my two kids and two carseats on a whirlwind weekend trip across the country, and my pain is your gain. Here are my words of wisdom for this year’s over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go – and arrive at, alive and more-or-less sane.
Do: Pack only pajama jeans for yourself. Strike that. Wear your pajama jeans and pack nothing for yourself. Wear your pajama jeans to dinner, then to bed, then to dinner again. Ignore any comments that seem like anything other than compliments. You are in survival mode.
Don’t: Pack light for the kids. Nothing says “asshole” like a parent who sends her kids out to play in short sleeves in 50 degree weather, especially if that asshole has been wearing the same pair of warm, denim pajamas for several days in a row.
Do: Turn your car seats over in the parking lot and give them a good shake. What you might not know is that when they put car seats through security, they put them upside down on the belt, and maybe I’m alone in this, but when you turn my car seats over, all sorts of embarrassing things fall out. Crayon pieces, week-old fruit snacks, ponytail holders, soggy cheerios, pacifiers…if you don’t shake that out before you get to security, it’s going to fall onto the belt, and the security officers (and everybody else) will be forced to examine it and cluck. Ugh, yes, I am a filthy human being.
Do: Dress your children exactly the same so if one of them runs away or gets abducted, you can hold up the other one and say to the authorities, “looks just like this.”
Do: Put the baby on your back. It has been scientifically proven that babies on backs are six times as cute as babies in strollers and strangers have a hard time being pissed at you for accidentally knocking into them with a car seat when they are busy cooing at your spine.
Do: Switch places on the plane to get a window seat because nobody wants a kid crawling over them and screeching joyfully about the ground disappearing.
Don’t: Switch places on the plan to get a window seat because nobody wants a kid, Ergo-wearing-adult-with-straps-flying-recklessly-in-every-direction, and floppy baby crawling over them during turbulence with panicked “what if she shits her pants” looks on their faces.
Don’t: Try to rush out of the plane to make a connection because your gate checked car seats won’t be brought up until basically everybody is off the airplane anyway.
Do: Go ahead and take your time, because if you try to rush out while people are still seated, your back-loaded baby will inadvertently kick at least three people in the face, and, cute or not, there’s only so much people can take.
Do: Trick your older kid into thinking that the rush through O’Hare is an elaborate game of red light/green light. It’s not a game, but it gets you where you’re going, and seriously, we are NOT spending the night in this godforsaken airport.
Don’t: Go through O’Hare.
Do: Nestle the booster seat into the infant carrier, and carry the infant carrier on your arm. This gets tiring fast, but it makes the whole schtick possible.
Don’t: Panic when your older child stops short at the top of the down escalator, and place your car seat on the top step so that you can grab her hand. Why? Because the infant seat will catch on the stair as the escalator moves, and start toppling, end over end, down the escalator. Trust me on this, just having your infant car seat slam into the back of innocent bystanders is embarrassing enough. More embarrassing? When your booster seat slips out of the infant car seat and goes flying through the air. Because the people below you won’t necessarily know that that is another car seat and not, say, a baby, and it’s just like that scene in “Speed” when Sandra Bullock runs over a baby carriage filled with cans only this time it’s not the movies and I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m SORRY to everybody in Chicago who thought that they witnessed a baby plummeting to its death, I’m SORRY.
Don’t: Give up on any semblance of nutritional rules for the weekend, that’s bad parenting!
Do: Lie about your nutritional rules or lack thereof when you write it up for an internet post because, seriously, letting them eat nothing but soda and cookies for the weekend won’t kill them, but being judged by other parents who manage to never give their children sugar might.
Do: Bribe your older child with Oreos if they promise to listen and help, because bribes are good and Oreos are aplenty.
Don’t: Accidentally eat the entire package of Oreos yourself because of nerves.
Do: for God’s sake, take help when it’s offered, especially if your older kid has finally fallen asleep and can’t walk, because you hit a point where you look so pathetic that people, all sorts of people, will offer help.
Don’t: Forget to write a letter to the airport personnel’s boss to thank them because seriously, even with a baby on your back and the car seats set up just so, there was no way you were going to be able to also get your 4-year-old to the car. No way.
Don’t: Expect a medal for your heroic antics.
Do: Buy yourself a freaking medal. You’re a hero.
(photo: View Apart/ Shutterstock)