Picture this: Two happily married people sitting together on their flight to Boston for a long weekend getaway with friends. On their 6:00 a.m. flight, the two are enjoying hot coffee, peanuts, and great conversation. Then you notice something. You peek over the seatbacks and see that the pair are not alone. Nestled between them is a happy, toe-headed toddler.
Now watch as this blissful picture morphs into a nightmare when the happy three year old gets frustrated and begins screaming at the top of his lungs. It seems as though that early morning wakeup call was a little harder for him, and now he’s going to make it hard on everyone around him—especially his stressed out parents.
This is my family, and I experienced this mortifying situation last fall. And now I would like to share with you a few pointers on traveling with toddlers that I have learned throughout the last few years. I hope to help you not only avoid frustration for you and your family, (not to mention other passengers onboard,) but also to have a pleasant and stress-free flight.
Let them wear their jammies to the airport. If you must travel either late at night or early in the morning, bring them to the airport in their pajamas or at least in a soft t-shirt and pants and/or shorts. This allows you to whisk them out of bed easily and quickly, (i.e. waking them up at the last minute possible and/or allowing them to fall asleep on the flight and slipping them into bed more easily upon arrival.)
Don’t forget to go low tech, too. Bring your go-to electronics, but also remember that batteries die and if that happens, you want to be prepared. The golden ticket is a new toy that they can take time opening the package and checking out while you are taxiing off the ground and into the air. We run by the dollar bins at Target and get a toy. However, we only use the toy, as a last option, if the other selections do not work. We start with an airport packet, (usually tucked away in the monster-sized bag that I now refer to as my purse.) I tend to keep little items from fast food kid’s meals in my purse as they are usually small, already packaged goodies including small lightweight books, stickers, and toys.
Let your child pack a backpack or small bag with several toys of their choice. We have a small car-themed rolling bag that he knows he can stuff with whatever toys he wants to bring. (You may choose to limit the number of items, depending on how long you will be gone and where you are going.) He has a travel train set that he often chooses along with a few train cars. Remember, sometimes too many toys can add stress instead of alleviate it. Our little guy has also been known to drive his bag around since it is a car!
ALWAYS bring an extra set of clothes and baby wipes—especially if you check your luggage! Have you ever wondered what an almost three year old looks like in an 18-month-sized onesie with the Texas flag on it? Ok, you probably have not, but I can tell you my son looked like a little wrestler. Sure, it is a pretty stinkin’ cute little wrestler. However, paying almost $20 for the only thing sold in the airport that will fit your child is not too cute, especially when you know he will never wear it again. We learned this lesson the hard way!
Consider bringing your child’s car seat on board and buckling them into it. If I had that Boston flight to do over again and knowing that it was an early morning flight, I would have been better prepared with a snuggly stuffed animal; a soft, small blanket; and I would have buckled him into his car seat. Since all children over the age of two have to be buckled into their seats, my very sleepy child would have responded much better to something that was familiar to him. He probably would have fallen right to sleep, too. You better believe that car seat came with us on our next flight!
I love to travel. I sit and daydream about all the places that my family will be able to visit and the experiences that we have had and will have in the future. I now know that it can be a fun, stress-free event to travel with a toddler and that the key is to prepare, prepare, prepare. I hope these tips will be helpful for you, but remember, the best advice out there is for you to do what works best for you and your family! Have fun, and I hope to see you and your family on a Southwest flight soon!
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I sure do miss all you very much. LIT will always be my home and you ALL will always be my Friends! I wish you the happiest 25 year anniversary.
Much, much LUV and many smiles, Bev B.
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Well, that’s the truest statement ever … at least for me apparently! About a year ago, I was casually perusing through a silent auction here at Southwest. To my surprise, I saw someone I knew, but for the life of me I could not place where I knew her from. Then it dawned on me, “Oh my goodness, that’s my ninth grade Debate Coach, Lisa Tiller!” Well, sure enough I walked up and asked, “Do I know you?” She replied, “Oh my goodness.” Fifteen years had passed since I was in the ninth grade, so we re-introduced ourselves and recalled memories from North Little Rock High School Debate Class. Ms. Tiller, or “Tiller” as we called her, because any self-respecting high school student knows that you only refer to the cool teachers by their last name, was indeed our cool teacher. But, more than that, she was an influence in my life that I don’t think she even realizes. See, before ninth grade I was a quiet kid, and if you know me now, you might be quite surprised by that statement. It was that year that I began to develop myself and my communication skills through Debate class. We learned to research, analyze, and communicate our thoughts on many political and social hot topics. All of these are skills I use in my current career as an Instructional Designer. But, there was something else that I learned in my four years of Debate—I built a foundation that provided me with the drive to achieve my dreams and also the passion of being a lifelong learner. Lisa Tiller, thank you for being a significant and valuable influence in my life. As you are still teaching and leading others as a Facilitator for Southwest, I can only imagine that your Teammembers are as lucky as I was to be trained by you.
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Avid SWA Flier - I would LUV more resources on EQ and thank you for your offer. (I didn't see your e-mail address on the post, but please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com). I completely agree with you that this is not a new topic and can't wait to hear from you and learn more about this and other topics. I also agree that self awareness and learning can be found just about anywhere if you seek it--it's always nice to hear from fellow "life-long learners." Thank you for your response!
Chuck Wolfe - Thank you for posting a response! I can't wait to check out your website and learn more about Emotional Roadmapping. I appreciate you sharing and am so excited about learning to proactively and appropriately handle future and current diffcult situations as you have suggested.
Paula - LUV ya, Girl! 😮 )
Helen Stevens - I encourage you to continue researching self-awareness and emotional intelligence--it has changed my life and I hope it will positively impact you as well. As a wife, mother, and student, you obviously have A LOT on your plate. Hang in there--all it takes is a desire, determiniation, and drive to always keep learning. This will help us to continually grow ourselves. Thank you for sharing and I am so happy this was helpful for you.
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Do you ever wonder to yourself, “why is all this happening to me?” I have found myself feeling that way lately. My husband and I bought a house, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer, and the ins and outs of day-to-day life began to feel daunting at times. However, I continue to remind myself of the quote by Charles Swindoll, “Life is ten percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” This reminds me that I am in control, even when it doesn’t feel that way. But lately I have needed some guidance on how to manage my emotions, and I have found my solace in a class, on the subject of Emotional Intelligence, that I am designing for the University for People here at Southwest. Several of my Coworkers and I have been researching and training on this subject, which is a hot topic currently in corporate America. Emotional Intelligence is defined as “recognizing and managing feelings that are present in our relationship with ourselves and others.” One’s Emotional Intelligence, which is referred to as EQ or Emotional Quotient, is fundamentally different than one’s IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, as IQ is not going to change much over time, but EQ can change through experiences and awareness. EQ also is arguably the single most influential factor that drives performance and advancement within one’s career. So, how do you actively grow your EQ? You must first start with a grounded self awareness. When my husband and I first bought our house, our stress levels were elevated due to the nature of moving and our reactions to change. It took me a few days to even realize that I was feeling something related to buying our house. But once I acknowledged this, I knew I needed to journal to work through it. As I was journaling, I identified that I was getting cranky, but that was only the result of whatever it was that I was feeling. I then discovered that I was overwhelmed and anxious. I accepted that these feelings were present and let myself experience both of them. I even let myself feel a bit cranky, because I knew I had the tools to work through this. I began to process these feelings and realized that I was overwhelmed because we had to get our new house painted, our current home packed up, and everything moved within a few weeks. Feeling overwhelmed made me feel anxious about getting all of the work completed. However, when I reflected on these feelings, I recognized that I was overwhelmed because I was putting too much pressure on myself. Without even realizing it, I had made up rules in my head to have every room in our new house painted as well as everything organized and put up within the next three weeks. Obviously, that was a lot to get done in only a short amount of time. I decided that a better, more realistic plan would be to get the two main rooms painted, and to move all other stuff into the spare room of the new house until I had time to put it away in an organized fashion. Whew, what a relief! If I had not worked through these steps, I would probably have remained cranky for a while longer. Knowing that I tend to put rules on myself, I forecasted that I may do this again with the next big change in my life. So, I will try to be aware of this tendency and work through my feelings with each big change. It is likely that at some point in our lives we have all felt out of control. Once we learn to recognize and manage feelings that are present in our relationship with ourselves, we will be better equipped to do this in our relationships with others. A highly developed EQ can give us the edge that will spark success both in our professional and personal lives. And, since EQ is a learned skill, we all have a clean slate in which we can build and expand it within ourselves if we choose to do so.
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My friend once told me that I could find a book to answer any question I had ... and I think she's right! My name is Bev B. and I am a Southwest Employee at our University for People, a self-proclaimed bookworm, and a lifelong learner. And, I think I just might be the luckiest girl in the whole world. Allow me to explain why .... For many years, I have been a firm believer that self-awareness and personal growth are the keys to happiness. In fact, I do believe that I can find a book to answer any question. My bookshelves at home are full of books on just about any subject you can imagine. So, during the past six years that I have been employed at Southwest Airlines, my goal has been to work for the University for People. The University is our Leadership, Personal and Professional Development, and Learning Department. Last year, this dream became a reality when I was hired as an Instructional Designer at the University. I research, design, and develop Leadership, Personal and Professional, and other soft skills training classes for Southwest. Now, it is my job to do what I was already doing ... reading Leadership and Development books, researching new learning opportunities, and growing. The only difference is that I get to share my passion with other Southwest Employees and make a difference in the lives of other lifelong learners. Yep, I think I just might be the luckiest girl in the whole world!
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