Leaving on a Jet Plane

Having just returned from my fifth commercial airplane trip with young children, I feel like I’m starting to get a hang of flying with kids. I’m also, begrudgingly, starting to get used to how people respond to me while traveling.
Most of the time, traveling with young kids makes me feel like a pariah. People cringe when they see they are on a flight with me and my young children. They cross their fingers and hope they aren’t near us on the flight. They pray there won’t be crying the whole flight.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really lovely people on our flights. A woman behind me on our last trip actually complimented me on how nice my children were on the flight (miracles do happen!). Another couple of older ladies chatted with me about my kids and were quite pleasant to talk with.
Then there are the other people.
The people who glare at me when my children are anything but totally silent. The irritated glances from people sitting around us when their seats get bumped. The woman who gave my son and nephew a cranky look when they were playing at the gate (we weren’t even on the plane yet people!).
And then there are the extremely rude fellow travelers.
Upon entering the gate on our return flight, an older woman stopped me to say: “Excuse me! You were sitting behind us on our flight over here and your children kicked our seats the whole time. If you’re traveling with other people, we would like to switch seats with them.”
After 45 minutes of my 15 month old screaming on a flight, I finally gave up trying to calm him in our seat. My husband stood up to distract him elsewhere, and people around us clapped. They actually clapped. I almost died of mortification. On that same flight, one woman thought it was helpful to constantly glare at me and press her hands over her headphones dramatically.
Or the couple walking past my husband as we deplaned, “The last thing I wanted to do was sit next to some woman yelling at her kids the whole time.” Well people, I guarantee the last thing that lady wanted to do was yell at her kids the whole time!
I’ve sat around other children on flights before. Are they the best seatmates? Of course not. Did my seat get kicked over and over? You bet. But what makes people think that children and parents don’t have an equal right to be on the flight? Since when does going out to a public place (like a restaurant, a mall, or an airport) guarantee that you won’t have to be around kids or noise?
Frankly, I’m sick of it. I paid for my seats just like everyone else on the flight. And I deserve to go on a vacation, as do my children! A seat in coach doesn’t mean that you won’t be disturbed by other passengers (I certainly didn’t love sitting near whoever was passing gas the whole flight). And if you buy a seat on any public commercial flight, you will probably sit by, oh, I don’t know, someone you don’t know who might have children. Sorry, but that’s how life works.
If you want a new seat, go ask the airline people at the gate. It’s their job. Don’t shame the poor mother that is just trying to survive with her children for the day. Have a little compassion and just the teensiest amount of empathy.

Please Excuse the Mess

When people come to my house, I usually spend a lot of time getting it ready for guests. I live in constant fear that someone will come to the door unannounced and I will be socially forced to let them in, then die of embarrassment at the messy state of my house.

I’m not naturally a neat freak, but I do appreciate a clean home. It’s easier to get things done and a lot more pleasant to live in.

However, on any given day, our house usually has:

– breakfast/lunch/dinner food on the floor under the table (Hey, snacks for the baby later! Time saver. Parenting win.),

– toys spread into every room,

– jammies discarded on the floor,

– dirty diapers (you would think I would manage to walk the 10 feet from the changing pad to the garbage, but apparently not),

– cracker pieces on the rug (from snack time, usually dumped out by one kid or the other),

– dishes (in the sink, on the table, on the counters, on the ottoman),

– dirty towels from mopping up spills,

– kids’ water bottles,

– markers and paper spread out across the floor, and

– Legos, Legos, Legos (my son really loves Legos)!

And that’s just the first floor.

I work part time and when I’m home, I feel like I need to spend time with my kids (I was away all day and I feel guilty for that), so I rarely spend time on chores during those 3-4 hours we have before bath and bedtime. If my husband does bath time, it gives me 15 minutes to do something. But as you can imagine, I’m lucky if I get through doing the dishes or packing lunches for the next day.

I’ve had friends urge me not to clean before they come (“Oh, we don’t mind!”), but I’m so embarrassed by the true state of our house that I usually at least pick up most of the mess. Then I can pretend that THAT is really how messy our house is, and say how embarrassing it is that it’s so “messy.”

Oh, I’ve seen and read plenty of tips on maintaining your home (and pinned them all on Pinterest!). But these tips are clearly for people who don’t have a child clinging to them like a koala every waking moment of the day. Or for people who don’t need to cook dinner. I get that I can do little things each day that will help, but frankly, it’s not enough to keep my house maintained, assuming I can even do what they suggest. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to get it ALL done.

So, I’ve decided that my solution is to NOT get it all done. I like having a clean house, and I’m not going to give up altogether, but I’m not going to stress out about something that is a losing battle. And I’m going to try to not feel too bad about it. And hope that my kids grow up remembering that we played together, not just that they had a messy house!