Last week, the girls and I embarked up on our annual trip to the U.S. As is usually the case, I flew alone with the two girls, and Jesse will join us later in the summer. Flying alone with two kids is always daunting. I was particularly nervous about this year’s journey, because Heidi is no longer interested in being worn. I was terrified about making my way through four airports on three continents with two mobile, overtired, jet lagged children. But the trip never goes just as I think it will go! This year was no exception – the parts of the trip that I was worried about went surprisingly well, and the parts that I thought would be easy were the big challenge!
We left Nairobi at midnight, which I thought would be awful. I put the kids to bed early on the day of departure, and woke them up 3 hours later to head to the airport. The late departure wound up being great – not only was traffic not as much of a concern at that hour, but the kids both got three solid hours of sleep in their own beds! Win!
I assumed that the first flight – our overnight long haul flight – would be easy. Last year, both girls slept really well on that first flight (Claire had an extra seat to lay down in, and Heidi nursed and slept in my lap). This year, Claire fell asleep quite easily, but Heidi just refused to go down. In the end, she slept for about 3 hours, which wasn’t ideal. Even with an extra seat to spread out in, I just couldn’t find a way to make both kids comfortable to sleep.
Our transfer in Amsterdam was nicer this year, as the bulk of the construction in the terminal was complete. Nonetheless, we still spent most of our time hanging out at our gate, with the girls eating M&M’s and watching Sofia the First at 8AM, because WHATEVER IT TAKES… 🙂
The second flight was our daytime long haul flight. I always assume this flight will be easy, because the kids can zone out with all the child-friendly in-flight entertainment. I also packed them both a backpack full of games, toys, and entertainment for the flight. Claire was great on this flight, too (she’s really my travel superstar!). She watched her movies, played her games, and even had a nice nap after lunch service.
Heidi, on the other hand, was dreadfully overtired from the previous flight, and just couldn’t keep it together. We suffered multiple tantrums and meltdowns over absurd things – not wanting to go in the airplane bathroom with Mommy, not wanting to come OUT of the airplane bathroom with Mommy, not wanting to sit in her seat, wanting water, NOT wanting water, getting indescribably angry that Mommy wouldn’t let her pull the lever that opens the emergency exit and activates the emergency slide. I KID YOU NOT. You get the idea. The poor kid was exhausted, and so was I. Not a great combo.
Arrival in JFK was my biggest worry. I was afraid Heidi (especially in her overtired state) might bolt in the middle of the U.S. Customs & Immigration queue chaos. But, to my surprise and delight, both girls were absolute angels as we wove in and out of the endless lines, as we were quizzed by the U.S. Immigration agent, as we collected our bags, and even as we made our LONG way to our next departure gate (I swear we walked about 20 kilometers from plane to plane!).
The last flight, a short flight of less than 2 hours, is always my biggest worry. By that point, the kids are way exhausted, and we have to board a TINY plane full of commuters who have zero sympathy for my tired, cranky children. (One day, I’ll print T-shirts that read, “Cut us some slack, we’ve been traveling for more than 24 hours. WE ARE ANGELS.”) This flight wound up being easy, much to my surprise! Both girls watched a bit of TV, and managed to stay awake. No fights. No tantrums. No comatose kids to drag off the plane. YAY!
Now we’re safe and sound at my mom’s house, and already starting to get over the jet lag. (It’s incredible how much easier jet lag is when your child is well rested! Yet another benefit of working with a sleep consultant!) Thanks for all your messages of support as we embarked upon our epic journey! More from our U.S. trip soon! 🙂