When I relocated to California, one caveat was that we always go home to Canada for Christmas. I love Christmas. I love celebrating Christmas at my parents’ house. I love snow. I’ll be darned if I miss out on that in California and do Christmas among the palm trees.
This year, however – my husband didn’t have quite enough vacation time to go for as long as I would have liked – so DK and I flew home a week early so we could spend more time with my friends. The Christmas season is hella-busy with family, so unless we get together early – I sometimes don’t even see my friends before it’s time to go back to California.
And so DK and I departed a week early for Canada. It was DK’s first time flying since becoming a mobile toddler and my first time flying alone with a child. I had nightmares of a screaming child running around the plane covered in his own feces. My stomach was in knots thinking that our flight might be delayed or cancelled. I worried that we’d end up sitting next to an unsympathetic grinch. I panicked that we’d have problems at the border because DK and I don’t have the same legal last name.
Sitting with these anxieties, I got busy preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. And thankfully – the travel day went surprisingly well, in spite of a mechanical delay.
Here are some things that I prepared that helped us get through the day, as well as a few things that I did prepare as worst-case-scenario-Andrea:
1. A notarized letter signed by my husband giving his consent that I travel across the border with our son.
Perhaps the most important provision I packed for us – it would be pretty awful to be detained at the border for kidnapping…
2. I wrapped a bunch of little gifts from the dollar store as well as his snacks. Unwrapping the toys and snacks took a few minutes and then the joy of a new toy to play with or snack to eat occupied him for quite a while. Putting them all in a ziplock bag gave me a spot to put the ripped wrapping paper afterwards.
4. I put some goldfish crackers in a weekly pill-organizer I got at the dollar store. Then I wrapped it.
5. I didn’t take a stroller, but carried him in a Tula carrier.
As much as I love my compact travel stroller, I can’t push it with one hand – making it impossible to push a cart-load of luggage at the same time. Therefore, I opted to take only my tula carrier, and I’m glad I did.
6. I wrapped a pack of post-it notes…peeling and sticking them to the tray table and seat occupied him for 30 whole minutes!
7. I can’t claim credit for this, but I got lucky and was given a row to myself as our plane wasn’t full. DK entertained himself for a while with the seatbelt.
These ideas worked great to keep DK busy without a screen (although we did watch about 15 minutes of Winnie the Pooh too). By the time we landed and were supposed to get off the plane, I had one tired boy!