Travelling with a Toddler (part 1)
Updated: Feb 3
Hooley dooley! I knew travelling with a toddler wouldn't be easy, especially one with a few extra needs, but I’m not sure I anticipated the need for about 50 extra sets of hands. My son is by no means a overactive child or even that disruptive, but keeping a small human in check and sitting on a plane, one who has just learnt to walk mind you, is by no means easy.
He is now 14 months old, has been walking for two months and is convinced he should be allowed to walk wherever he wants without assistance. He is a furiously independent toddler, confident in his own abilities and loves to explore. This made even a two hour plane ride less than relaxing. I remember life before kids when I used to sit and read a book or just close my eyes on a plane ride, how foolish I was to take this for granted. Even having a drink on the plane was a complex scene of acrobatics. The whole plane ride was a juggling act of entertainment, snacks and attempting for keep his seat-belt on. All I can say is thank goodness for The Wiggles!
Please don’t mistake me for a second, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I feel like there are so many posts out there about how to make it ”easier” to travel and not enough that just say, it is going to be hard and you will land in your destination exhausted and questioning your sanity. I was lucky to be travelling with my husband and both my mother and father. Many hands don’t necessarily mean light work in this case but it sure does help!
Another added complication was living in the era of Coronavirus. Not so bad for the little guy but the rest of us had to wear masks. To a 14 month old toddler, their parent wearing a mask is just a fun game of peekaboo. After about the fifth time it has been twanged back to your face by your tiny human who is laughing their head off with glee at this wonderful game they have discovered, you have definitely had enough of the mask.
One thing I was grateful for was the timing of the landing and the fact I am still able to breastfeed, something which for me has been an absolute life saver. I admire all the mums out there that can do without, but I honestly don’t know what I would do without a boob some days. My son absolutely refuses a bottle and no matter what I tried and at six months old refused a dummy, so since then I have been his dummy. The sucking saved his ears on the way down and he gently fell asleep and gave me a small moment of quiet after the chaos of the flight.
The other thing I really wasn’t prepared for was how much stuff a tiny human needs. They need clothes and I wanted him to have familiar bedding to help him sleep in a new place. They also need snacks and food and nappies, not to mention toys and books for entertainment. I gave up half my suitcase for baby clothes and bedding and my husband gave up half of his for toys and food. It’s possible I over packed, but I like to be prepared for every eventuality and make sure my son has everything he needs.
And none of this even touches on the stress of dealing with his bowel problems while travelling. Knowing the facilities to change a nappy on a plane are less than ideal and I would have to do it completely on my own as those are the rules on a plane. And not knowing if we will have no nappies or five poopy nappies to change on a two hour flight. We got very lucky on the flight over and his constipation kicked in but this meant more problems later on. I doubt we will be so lucky going home. Having a child with an anorectal malformation and traveling is stressful in itself. You never know what to expect day to day. Will it be 12 poopy nappies and horrific nappy rash or will you be freaking out worrying if he will need to go to hospital for an enema. Sometimes you get lucky and land somewhere in the middle with only mild nappy rash to contend with.
I will keep you posted on more of the ups and downs of travelling with a toddler with bowel issues. I’m certain any child this age would not be a breeze to manage but I do find the stress of worrying about juggling constipation and severe nappy rash particularly stressful. Hopefully with the family support around I will keep my sanity through all this. And to all those parents out there who travel on their own with children, you absolutely deserve a gold medal!