Traveling with my Toddler: Heaven is Having My Lap to Myself

This holiday season an amazing thing happened. I enjoyed air travel with my toddler. I even read a few chapters of my book on the plane.

See, I used to love planes. I loved everything about air travel. I liked to buy a magazine, a processed snack and a $4 bottle of water at the airport. I loved people watching. I loved the anticipation of knowing you would be in another state, physically and mentally in mere hours. I especially loved the chance to read without interruption on the plane. I have a distinct memory of hitting the tarmac at Boston Logan after a four hour flight and wishing we weren’t there yet because I needed to finish my novel and I had only 30 pages to go. (It was Big Girl Small  in case you were wondering).

And then I had a child.

Instead of relishing a copy of Real Simple, I bust open a copy of Sky Mall and scour it for pictures of dogs with my toddler on my lap. I bring a lot of snack food and I ask for two of whatever they are offering on the plane because Ritz Bits and Lorna Doone cookies turn out to be very effective pacifiers for my 21 month old. I don’t have time to buy expensive water because I’m busy waiting for the handicapped stall to open up so I can fit in there with a stroller and then doing a quick diaper change before we board. I hesitate to fill my Nalgene bottle at the water fountain because I would rather not have to choose between going to the restroom on the plane while my toddler is unattended or inviting her to keep me company in the lav. I no longer people watch. Instead I must channel all my powers of observation on my toddler, who needs to walk as much as possible at the gate before she is confined to my lap for hours. It’s hard to people watch when you’re busy person watching and said person stands two feet tall and possesses the disposition of a friendly drunk.

So neither Dan nor I were thrilled at the prospect of flying from Denver to Boston for either Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. I love my family dearly but this year I chose my mental health over my family and decided to stay local for the holidays.

I did however take Sweet Pea back east to visit my folks for a week right after Thanksgiving. Our tickets were cheap. The airports were relatively easy to manage, given that it wasn’t a holiday. Dan decided to stay back so he could save up his vacation time for when the baby comes. I was nervous about such a long flight alone with my toddler. Since she’s still under two she would be on my lap. The way from Denver to Boston is quite a long way, even in a jet plane. It’s even longer when there’s a thirty pound human on your lap.

Despite having stocked up on Goldfish and downloading several episodes of Sesame Street and some cat cartoon on the iPad, I worried that perhaps the $200 it would have cost to buy my child her own seat would have been more than worth it. How could I have put a price on having my lap to myself? I had never really considered the monetary worth of my personal space before.

But the heavens shone upon me on this trip, as I was blessed with the good fortune of an empty middle seat in our row. Both ways. We flew Southwest, the only airline I know of where people can choose not to sit next to you because you look annoying, you’re too big, you’re eating a tuna fish sandwich, or in my case, because you have a toddler on your lap. I know Southwest reminds a lot of people of a crappy flying Greyhound bus but while the haters hate, I will fly with my 21 month in her own seat that I didn’t have to pay for, thank you very much.

Heaven is not having to share a seat with your toddler for four hours.

I am agnostic, but I may reconsider things this holiday season.


This post was brought to you by the Finish the Sentence Friday (FTSF) Blog Hop.

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Please visit the FTSF blog hop hosts:

Stephanie at Mommy for Real

Kristi From Finding Ninee

Janine from Janine’s Confessions of Mommyholic

Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine

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8 thoughts on “Traveling with my Toddler: Heaven is Having My Lap to Myself

  1. Katia says:

    LOVED. And yes, I agree with all of the above.

    I was somewhat dreading travelling with 4 Year Old back home in August. He is not a toddler but it’s a 14 hour flight. I didn’t have to share my lap with him and everything went surprisingly well. The good thing about parenting is that our expectations of any level of comfort are so low that we’re so much easier to please than before, right?

    Also – wait a minute, baby??? Congratulations, Pam!!!!

    • Pam says:

      Thanks, Katia! I have to say, with parenting and just about everything in my life, the anticipation and anxiety of a given situation is usually way worse than the situation itself:)

  2. Bianca @ Track Pants and a Tot says:

    I feel ya about flying w/ a toddler. We bought our son his own seat over the summer. It hurt our wallets of course, but seeing that he wanted to crawl between us the whole time, it saved our sanity. All our flights were full so we didn’t luck out like you, you lucky duck! 🙂

    • Pam says:

      It’s funny, both ways they made an announcement about it being a full flight. There’s a big difference between full and almost full:)

  3. Dana says:

    First – congrats on a baby on the way! I haven’t been here in awhile (sorry!) Second, that was smart of you to visit in between holidays; I’m glad you had a little piece of heaven. I never flew much with my young kids, and now that they are older, the small kiddos don’t bother me much. When they’re not mine, I have a much more laid back attitude!

    • Pam says:

      Thanks, Dana! I wonder if perhaps there is so much white noise on planes so that other people’s kids don’t bother passengers as much:)

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