Want to know the fastest way to become Public Enemy Number One?
Walk onto an airplane with four kids less than three years old.
I have never seen abject terror on so many strangers’ faces.
That is what I experienced last week when I took the kids to see my family in Georgia.
It was the first flight I had taken with all four of the kiddos, but at this point flying with little kids has become an old hat since I have flown cross-country with our eldest tens of times.
I am used to the death-glares of over-worked businessmen who are not so secretly hoping that they don’t wind up in our aisle…or any of the ten aisles that surround me and my brood.
Flying long-distance with little kids is never fun and almost always painful.
Why is it that when they’re enclosed in small spaces with hundreds of strangers who are unable to escape the temper tantrums, that kids lose their ability to comprehend basic instructions like:
“Sit on your bottom.”
“Stay in your chair.”
“Don’t hit your brother.”
“Stop kicking your sister in her head.”
“No, we can not swap Kindles again. You each have your own.”
“Please just be quiet and watch Clubhouse!”
I blame it on the altitude.
But unlike say, getting a root canal, after the first time or two, flying with kids becomes a lot easier.
Mostly because you realize that you don’t actually care what a bunch of strangers think of you.
The majority of my anxiety when I flew with our oldest daughter the first couple of times was over what other people were going to say and think if she acted up the entire time.
Now, I’m not condoning lazy parenting or being inconsiderate of other passengers just because you’re on a plane and you’re probably already exhausted and looking longingly toward that glass of wine you’ll reward yourself with upon arrival.
But I do think that if you’re flying with small kids, it’s easier to handle if you just remember to put it all in perspective.
For us, the maximum amount of time my kids will have to spend on a plane is eight hours. I can deal with anything for eight hours.
Even stink-eye from strangers who did not sign-up for an hour-long session of the melodic sound of a screaming baby.
So I try to not stress about what other people are thinking about my kids. If I stress, my kids are going to notice and then no one is going to be happy.
I also loosen my grip on my policy of mainly healthy snacks.
If my kids will mow down on an entire bag of M&Ms and that keeps them quiet for 30 minutes, I’ll give ‘em two!
I also pretend that all the research about screen time and children’s brain development is pure conjecture and I pop my kids in front of whatever Disney movie/show is next in queue on my tablet.
I make sure our seats are in the dead-last row of the airplane and that my diaper bag/purse/backpack is stocked with diapers and wipes, extra clothes and blankets for the babies, a million Ziplocs (those babies come in handy all the time), hand-sanitizers and enough pacifier’s to sink a ship and leave the rest up to the kids.
Obviously I’ll discipline them if they’re getting out of hand, but the bottom line is that they are children.
And as long as they’re not being obnoxious or disrespectful, I’m not gonna stress about their behavior and try to accommodate some strangers I’ll never see again.
And perhaps it is that attitude that crowned me Public Enemy Number One.
it’s easier to handle if you just remember to put it all in perspective.