My first experience traveling as a mother was pretty easy.
My son, Ethan, was 6 months old and my sister accompanied me on the flight. He mostly slept, but when he started to cry, I nursed him back to sleep. When the plane landed, people commented on how he was so good – or how they didn't even know a baby was on the flight.
My first experience traveling as a mother of two is probably the worst parenting experience I've had to date. My second child, Gavin, was 2 months old and Ethan was almost 3. I traveled to Omaha from Atlanta – by myself – with both kids. If you've never been to the Atlanta airport, it's so big you have to take a train to get to your gate.
As I look back, I think I had way too much stuff to carry on. A diaper bag, stroller, baby carrier and a breast pump. It took me so long to get through security that by the time I finally made it to my gate, they were boarding the last section. That, among other things, made this the worst traveling experience of my life.
The lesson I learned after this experience is you can't take everything a newborn baby needs on the plane with you. Or can you?
Being a professional organizer, I'm always trying to figure out a way to maximize my space and find a better solution for things that aren’t working for me. Now that Gavin is almost 2 and Ethan is 4, I think I have a better traveling routine. Here is what works for me.
1. EzPacking travel organizers. These storage cubes come in different sizes and colors. You can fit them inside a checked bag or in your carry-on. You can even get individual cubes to put in your diaper bag or your kids activity bag. I love how these were created by a mom who was frustrated with the packing process, so she understood the struggle. When I pack my kids’ items, I can see exactly what is in each cube because they are translucent. Their starter set fits perfectly into my carry-on bags. You can also pick a different color for each member of the family; I can use orange for Ethan and green for Gavin. They also have a laundry travel bag, which is great for times when my little guys have potty accidents. This mommy must-have will change the way you pack. Click here for more information.
2. Sit N' Stand stroller. My 4-year-old is too big to fit in a double stroller, but he is too young to keep up with me while walking through the airport. I love this stroller because it has a seat for Gavin, and a space in back for my tall 4-year-old Ethan to sit or stand and enjoy the ride.
3. Check as many bags as you can. I’ve had my fair share of annoying baggage check experiences. But when you have kids, you should really just carry-on what is absolutely necessary. Keep in mind, the younger your child, the more you’ll need.
4. Keep them entertained. iPads, coloring books, picture books, puzzles. Bring items your kids love.
I look forward to the day when traveling with kids is much easier, until then I’ll stick to my current routine.
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Naeemah Ford Goldson is a mother of two boys who lives in Atlanta but is originally from Omaha. She’s the owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing, LLC. Read more posts from Naeemah »
Editor's note: These are products Naeemah Ford Goldson uses and enjoys on a daily basis. She is not in any way affiliated with these companies or paid to promote their products.