When you have flown for as many years as I did it’s no surprise that when you have a baby you have no qualms (or maybe some just not as many as others) about taking your baby on a plane. I mean it’s easy right? Thousands, millions and billions of other mothers have done it before and they all got off the flight ok right? Well what I probably didn’t notice was just how harassed they were getting off that flight. Now I know that harassed feeling as Flynn has been lucky enough to have a few flights already. I jump at any chance to go away, its in my blood. Although my blood is now thinning as it’s getting more and more difficult. Fancy a camping trip round Scotland anyone? Er actually no I’m fine I’ll succumb to the flight.
So flying with a baby has its pros and cons. Pros an exotic holiday destination (hopefully) at the end of it and cons well everything else.
So here are a few tips I’ve discovered over the years as a flight attendant and more importantly over the last 9 months first hand as a travelling mum.
Always get to the airport early. Being a flight attendant I always arrived one hour prior to the scheduled departure time. You may ask why so late? Because that is when check in closes and they know if there is space left for any standby passengers. So why would I not arrive so late these days? Because no doubt baby will need feeding of some sort, may have a nappy explosion and just generally you have so much stuff to check in, re arrange and trundle through the airport with that one hour is about three hours too little.
Make sure to take enough stuff onboard but saying that not too much stuff. Take enough food or milk for the flight and a bit of a delay (and don’t forget the journey after when you land) but don’t take enough for days on end as seriously you won’t use it and you will just end up carrying a heavier bag. And guaranteed you will be carrying baby and that heavy bag at the other end when your pram or stroller goes awol. Oh and also very important take a change of clothes well several for baby as who knows what will happen and at least one for you (it’s not a good look being covered in puréed carrot walking though an airport).
For older babies take toys. I cannot stress this enough as this will be the only day they refuse to play with a plastic spoon or the in flight magazine.
Pick a flight with good timings. For baby not for you. To be fair we all want to land in the exotic destination looking like we’ve just stepped off of the cover of Vogue but in reality that’s never going to happen when travelling with a baby. Also don’t forget most airlines put lights on for services and if your baby is anything like mine he will want to be part of the breakfast service not dozing his way through it like a first class passenger.
I had always been given this advice and passed it onto my passengers (although I actually had no clue myself since never having breastfed a baby before Flynn, funny that) to breastfeed them on take off and landing. Yes the sucking motion does help their little ears, saying that have you ever tried to get a baby into position over you and your nipple whilst not showing it (your nipple) off to all the other passengers around you as the plane is hurtling down the runway or worse still as it lands with a big bump (ouch). So this piece of advice is for people in enclosed first class suites or even better still in private jets. So if anything give them a bottle. Milk, wine, vodka.. I’M JOKING the wine and vodka is for you once the flight takes off.
So after all this and not to mention several hours of thinking when is this going to be over you land into your exotic destination and all is forgiven. You now just spend the next week mentally packing, planning and panicking for the return journey.
Now I should be a pro at this. Working as a flight attendant for 12 years defiantly taught me one thing.. How to pack a suitcase. Now I’m not going to lie sometimes you have a packing faux pas for example the time I packed for a 3 day layover in Hong Kong under the belief all Asian countries were hot all year round. How was I to know it got very cold in winter. Well at least I amused some of the locals. One old man in particular when he came up to me pointed and said “you summer me winter”. “Yeah yeah whatever” I said through chattering teeth.
So anyways a few faux pas aside I’m generally quite good at packing well that is until I started packing for two. (And not my husband I hasten to add although I might have to start packing for three as last time he thought it was a good idea to go to Mexico for a weeks beach holiday with one pair of swimming trunks… I know right not just the shock horror of having the same outfit on in every holiday photo but those shorts were pretty much walking back from Mexico on their own).
So the second person is Flynn and although you would think babies don’t really need much (I mean they are tiny right and all their tiny clothes are tiny right) this couldn’t be further from the truth. You basically need to take everything just in case it’s needed (yes I know you can buy most stuff in most countries but to be fair who wants to be searching for the equivalent of Boots when you could be chasing after your small child around the poolside making sure he doesn’t fall in, constantly lathering him in factor 50 so you don’t get a sunburnt baby and finding things to amuse them out of thin air as you haven’t packed enough toys and have already been swimming 5 times today. Sorry where was that Boots again? Is it in a mall somewhere? Maybe I’ll just pop off there for a couple of hours on my own…
So just in case of any eventuality you pack everything for them which results in not a lot for you unless you want to pay ridiculous amounts for excess luggage. This ranges from baby nail clippers in case of a jagged nail emergency (anyone who has a baby with a pincer grip like Flynn’s will totally understand my nail emergency) through to larger items like something for them to sleep in (yes that sleepyhead grand is coming too. Somehow).
So needless to say packing starts at least two weeks in advance and that’s after two weeks of extensive list writing. And that’s just the stuff for the suitcase what about the hand luggage? Now there’s two types of mums travelling. One who comes onboard overloaded with everything and prepared for any situation including a delay of 18 hours and a diversion to the other side of the world. I used to look at these mums and think why not just travel lighter and make your life easier?? Well I am now one of these mums as the other type of mum packs nothing and annoys the cabin crew all flight by ringing the call bell every two minutes asking for the items they didn’t bring resulting in praying their baby doesn’t actually need anything (yeah right) as they have already annoyed the crew on the first 15 times of pressing that bell and then they too scared to do it again (and baby actually really does need something). Only problem with mum number one is when the plane actually lands it takes forever to pack up all said stuff plus hold onto a sleeping baby (who by the way was awake all flight) with the cabin crew now glaring at you as they are dying to get off and go to the hotel to sleep (I lie the cabin crew are glaring as they are dying to get off go to the hotel and drink. Remember cabin crew are normally young and single and don’t care if baby has his pacifier but do care is the bar still open by the time they reach the hotel).
Anyways back to list writing and packing we are on a countdown…
So any mums out there with active hungry babies and way too much time on their hands?? No of course not! But if you are like me and love cooking you might want to try this as I promise with Flynn there was not even a speck of tomato on his bib after eating it. So here’s two versions of spag bol. One is very time consuming and may need a glass/ bottle of chilled sav blanc to accompany it (for you whilst cooking I hasten to add!!) and the other substitutes with tinned tomatoes hence making the process a lot quicker and way more managble in a normal busy day.
(Cheats and not so show offy version in brackets:)
Seasoning of black pepper
6 tomatoes (or 1 tin of tomatoes check no salt)
A few fresh basil leaves (or dried basil)
1/2 crushed garlic clove
2 tbsp natural yogurt
Few strands of organic wholewheat spaghetti cut up into tiny bite sized pieces (or 3 tbsp Heinz baby pasta stars)
1 small onion diced
200g mince – any minced meat of your choice.
What to do:
Put tomatoes in boiling water slit skins and blanch (for 60 secs). When skins soften remove tomatoes from water and peel away skins. Remove pips if desired then put flesh in a saucepan with some olive oil. Simmer for 45 mins (yes this is where the sav blanc comes in) with pepper and basil. They will thicken into a nice tomato paste.
If you are using tinned toms just heat in a pan. Add pepper and dried basil. Easy.
Add the yogurt to whichever tomato mixture and stir in on the heat.
In the meantime fry the onion, minced meat and garlic in a pan. Meanwhile cook the desired pasta.
Mix all together and purée if needed. Oh and add grated cheese. Just add cheese to everything if in doubt as all little ones seem to love it.
So this will only make 3 portions with the fresh tomato version but many more (say 6 depending on your babies appetite) with the tinned tomato version and just add more meat to make a more substantial dinner if your bub needs it.
Sounds extensive and it kind of is but as I say a clean bib meant no fuss, no spitting and no hassle when feeding which gives it the thumbs up in our house.
So it’s official Flynn doesn’t fit in his sleepyhead deluxe anymore. It does say 0-8 months but when you only discover one of these ‘must haves’ when your baby is 3 months old you feel the need to squeeze them in it for as long as possible (and he’s almost 9 months). So for those not in the baby bedding know the sleepyhead is the answer to every mothers’ sleep. It is basically like a breast feeding pillow squeezed into a very tight sheet with a mattress under. Sounds simple but very effective. And expensive. But you can’t put a price on sleep right? And I’m talking about ours not theirs I mean what baby wants a cranky mum each day.
So the day finally came when the sleepyhead was outgrown and Flynn went directly down onto his mattress (the sleepyhead was in his cot on top of his mattress for months preparing for this very day). Well you would have thought we had put him behind bars and he was trying to escape (well it kind of is I guess) but he was like a caged animal trying to escape banging his head around the cot and hitting the headboard with his tiny fists. Needless to say husband and myself didn’t get any sleep for the next week. Just one week though, I would love to say we persevered and Flynn finally stopped thrashing around but no that’s not the case. I discovered there was a sleepyhead grand for 8-36 months. Now when I said the last one was expensive this one is insanely expensive. But you can’t put a price on sleep right? And this time it was affecting husband’s sleep too (something slightly concerning when your son is bashing his head against wood in the night). So I got a phone call at 9.30am husband was in John Lewis purchasing the sleepyhead grand. I couldn’t have loved my husband more at this moment. So the sleepyhead grand arrived and took up most of the hallway. Wow it’s big. Flynn’s face lit up in excitement this was a good sign. Surely he couldn’t recognise this as being the newer, bigger version of his beloved old bed. Or could he. So night one Flynn goes in curls up and sleeps all night until 7am when he woke with a smile and I know this as I was watching him on the monitor (obviously I had woken up before him wondering if he was awake). Morning nap he went down easily and slept for two hours (he NEVER naps for two hours) and then I had to actually wake him up from his afternoon nap. So the sleepyhead grand is a huge success in our house and worth every penny. Who says money can’t buy you happiness.
For desperate for a bit of sleep mums and clever well prepared mums to be, the sleepyhead can be bought in John Lewis, on Amazon and of course Sleepyheads’s own website (although you have to wait for delivery and sometimes you just can’t wait another night) and they come in a variety of coloured expensive sheets. You know a friend who is a true sleepyhead fan when you say “we got the chevron today” and they say “oh I love the chevron it’s much nicer than the safari” without batting an eyelid.
So after 8 months of ‘maternity leave’ filled with play dates, mummy and me yoga, baby sensory classes, swimming classes, book bugs, bounce and rhymes, coffee shops with the mums n bubs (with enough coffee and cake to keep me looking pregnant), spin classes, buggy fit and buggy pump in the park (to regain my post pregnancy bod or preferably a better one) it’s definitely time to do something else. Most mums panic (or some rejoice) about returning to work. I had to hand my notice in several months ago as they wanted me back flying when Flynn was just 5 months old which I had mixed emotions about. On one hand leaving baby and husband to cope for several days in a row terrified me but on the other hand especially in moments of complete exhaustion (you know those ones at 3am when baby just won’t go back to sleep) the thought of two days in Bangkok getting massages and eating exotic Thai food, or even just a night in the Manchester crew hotel eating cold room service excited me. But in reality I couldn’t do it so I quit my job. But you can’t do nothing forever not that looking after your baby is nothing oh no it is in fact way more than that. Motherhood is a full time job (forever) and there are many opposing opinions on working mums versus stay at home mums. Well I wanted the best of both worlds who doesn’t. So how to get the best of both worlds? Work from home and own your own business (aka work in your pjs and bring baby to work?) I saw an advert on Facebook one day for YogaBellies which was a pregnancy yoga class I had been to myself when pregnant and had absolutely loved and this ad said run your own successful yet ethnical business. Sold. After seconds of reading the advert I was hooked. Do you love all things birth and baby? Well yes since having Flynn not only is this my life now but also my passion (not to mention a small addiction to watching children’s TV shows) It said are you sociable, committed, passionate willing to learn and supportive? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!
I watched them on dragons den and just thought wow. Everything just screamed ‘me’ so I ordered a prospectus, spoke with Cheryl the founder of this amazing company and next thing I was buying into the franchise. So now I am setting up my own Yogabellies business covering the Southside of Glasgow and am currently training to teach classes in YogaBelles yoga for women, YogaBellies for pregnancy and birth and YogaBellies for mother and baby yoga for post natal mums and baby and loving touch baby massage. Check out these amazing classes below.
http://www.yogabellies.co.uk/classes/ So it’s all go from here with lots of training and study to be done in between full days with a fun loving, very energetic and playful, not a big fan of napping little boy. Lucky I have stamina and not to mention a love of coffee. Planning to have the business up and running by early 2016 so watch this space…