As promised (albeit a little late), a blog post about traveling across the country with my two year old (and flying one way without the husband!) and kicking it for two weeks (solo parenting for one of those weeks) with my little dude.
Honestly, it didn't come without its challenges but I have to admit that it was one of my favorite trips so far. As you'll hopefully see from the pictures below, the kids had a fantastic time! My stained clothes and exhaustion are testament!
A side note: No we aren't traveling all the time even though social media makes it look like that. I'm just a busy working Mom so my photos tend to go up wayyyy after because I can never find sufficient time to sort through them right away. So for reference, this trip was taken July 1-13. Ya know, a month ago now...
I'll be the first to admit that two is a tough age to travel with. Lee is going through an "independent" stage where he insists (sometimes super loudly) that he get his way. Along with that comes the "I'm just going to randomly run away from you" phase. So how'd the flights go? Surprisingly well. I set my expectations about as low as they could go. I've seen kids throwing tantrums for up to 30 minutes on planes before. I expected at least one if not two or three of those. Luckily, we got away without any major tantrums. I still can't believe it. In the moment, every loud protestation seemed like the end of the world to me but looking back I have to laugh at myself and say "damn, woman, you have an easy kid."
Alright, so my mantra when I travel is "the journey cannot last forever." And insert whatever word in place of "journey" that you need to... like "tantrum." I also like to replace most of it with "he cannot stay awake forever." And while these help, they are also true. My other method of coping is giving up all "rules" I previously held at home and letting the kid get his way almost all of the time. Now, I put my foot down when it comes to respecting other people and being kind but rules on screen time and snack time do not apply when on an aircraft. He can watch as much Paw Patrol and eat whatever he wants on the airplane. Although I say he can eat whatever he wants, I really only bring his favorite healthy snacks... popcorn, cheese sticks and fruit. Lots of fruit is key, actually. I have a theory that he would be a worse kid if he didn't poop. A lot of times when traveling you can get a bit backed up. Not the case for this kid. He has a knack for pooping when we take off. Almost. Every. Single. Time. Super inconvenient for Mommy (yes, I changed his diaper on the seat in first class because storms wouldn't allow anyone to get out of their seat for most of the flight and I wasn't about to deal with the fallout from a diaper rash... plus, it stunk!). You do what you have to do. Most everyone I've ever encountered on a plane flight understands this. Oh, and bring dog poop bags. They are super handy to put dirty clothes in, if there's a blowout, or you're forced to change a diaper on a seat...
Now I'll give you just a few specifics on how the flight by myself with him went. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time so I didn't have to worry about that. Lugging our luggage and him to the counter was tough. I stuck him in his hiking backpack and lugged a roller bag, camera bag, his car seat and his diaper bag from the rental car garage to the terminal. I'm superwoman. I should have gotten a cart but I'm cheap...
Check in and security went smoothly. My little runner didn't allow me to get coffee or food but I had a strong feeling that would be the case so I got some food on the plane. At the gate I had to give up on preventing him from climbing on the window sill (aka the vents for the terminal) so he could see the planes. After he was up there he was super happy and we made it to boarding with no major issues. Waiting in line to board was a bit of an issue. He kept running off because he wanted to go down the "jetway tunnel." Luckily people in line thought it was amusing and saved my spot while I ran after him a total of 3 times. Once on board he was content with his iPad. We have shows and movies and games for him. He has a short attention span so he flits between all three. Then he pooped as we were taking off. Changed his diaper in the seat... I was repulsed but no one else seemed to be. The first leg to Chicago was pretty short so he was happy with his iPad and snacks the whole time.
Transitioning to flight number two wasn't bad, behavior wise, but I had trouble keeping up with him and convincing him he couldn't ride on all the passenger carts. On top of that, there was a lot of construction equipment because of renovations that he was interested in... dragging him away tended to lead to a few loud shouts of disapproval. But we made it on the second plane and he fell asleep immediately. I got 1 hour and 20 minutes to eat lunch and re-charge. I credit a bigger seat for this. He was able to readjust mid-nap without waking up. This flight was around 4 hours. The last hour and a half he was super antsy. There were the occasional shouts of disapproval (like when I told him he couldn't crawl under the seat in front of us...) but after dozens of trips walking/running up and down the aisles, he was mostly well behaved. We arrived tired but in one piece.
Overall, not an experience I'd jump into every day but one that is worth it for all the fun we had at the lake. Please enjoy the photos of our lake adventures below, and let me know in the comments section if you have any questions!
When I photograph kids I always try to get down on their level. After a few minutes at the frog pond I had fallen into the pond up to mid-calf and both knees were muddy. Worth it. I love these photos! The higher angle photos work best for me when the kids are looking up. For me, it gives the image a hopeful feeling - looking to the future!
As a photographer, I'm always chasing light and story. Both seem to allude me. It's like chasing down my two year old... always one step behind and when I catch up, it's a fight. Worth every second. The learning curve both as a photographer and a parent (albeit on different levels) is super steep. Keep climbing, parents and artists! There's got to be a fair number of great views on the way to the top! :)
We got back from a trip to Hagerman Lake in Michigan a week ago now. I'll try to get a post up about that before I leave for Norway on Friday. Follow me on Instagram if you want to see some photos from both those trips before I get the blog posts up! I'm going kid free for this one and I'll be battling some rain on some pretty remote islands. Should be interesting... might get a lot of interesting shots or maybe none at all. We shall see!