We had the chance to have a little "shake down" airplane time over spring break. The last time the kids were on an airplane was in November of 2008 headed to our candidate week in New York. With the big trip to Kenya in less than four months, we were grateful to give them a chance to see what it will be like... at least for a few hours!
The important part of the trip was the time we were able to spend with some of my (Heather's) family on the Texas coast. That aside, we, as parents, learned some good traveling lessons on the way.
One. We gave Faith her early birthday present of a backpack (for travel and Kindergarten) in hopes it would be put to good use on this trip. She was a superstar and carried it the whole way there. However, coming home, the novelty was lost. She was beyond tired and wasn't the packhorse that we not-too-compassionately hoped her to be. Between two rolling suitcases, two carseats, three backpacks, a hand bag and two crying kids to roll, drag and hoist around at 9:00 PM after retrieving our luggage in Denver, we looked a bit like a sad circus.
Lesson learned: Our carry-on packing will be first and foremost now packed in backpacking backpacks so our hands are free and legs are quicker if they need to be. Also, the kids will be starting a weight training program so that they can carry MORE stuff. Ahem... just kidding!
Two. Something that we've noticed about Joel for a long time is his ability to calmly fall asleep anywhere if he needs too. He fell asleep with no fuss on three of the four airplane rides. He sleeps through the announcements, the landings, the lights, everything.
Lesson learned: We can trust Joel's nature to rest calmly and not worry about him having difficulty with all the travel time. (Which I'm sure we'll still have our moments with!)
Three. Something I noticed about myself was how my mothering seemed to go downhill a little as the travel went on. So much of traveling is out of our control. We are at the mercy of the schedules, the planes, the people. The mood, health and restfulness of our children isn't fully in our control either. Because of this, my own mood began to get a little out of control, and the kids became just another thing to get from once place to another and to keep under control in a sea of strangers. I sure wasn't too proud of the mommy I was when it was all over.
Lesson learned: Let go of what I can't control, but choose to make traveling a fun and relatively calm experience for my family. I can play games and read stories with the kids during all the waiting time, instead of worrying about just getting everyone to the next place. Because really, isn't that what air travel is: hurry up and wait?!
Now if I can just remember this all in four months, we might make it in one piece over the ocean!