I decided to take the boys on a trip to Atlanta to see my older sister. My husband could not get off work, so I planned to take them alone. On a plane.
Some people thought I was crazy, but I was not too concerned as I tend to be overly optimistic about these things. One adult navigating an airport with three children seems like it might be a little stressful, but I pretty much navigate everything with three children in tow.
I was prepared. I packed us in carry-ons because I have THE WORST luck with checking baggage. I have had more bags lost than anyone I know. I even had a carry-on get lost one time; no joke. I remembered everything, every possible medication the kids might need, the nebulizer, plenty of clothes, snacks. I purchased and downloaded two movies to the tablet to keep the older boys entertained on the plane. I stocked my purse with small, interesting toys for the wee one. The day of our trip, I spoke with the boys about what to do in the event that we got separated at the airport. They know my full name, my phone number, and to look for an adult in a uniform. I had thought about how many elevators and trains we would have to take to get us to my sister’s house and I was only ever so slightly concerned that one of us would get left behind somehow.
The only thing I did not totally prepare for was how to transport us all and all of our carry-ons through the airport. I had a couple of scenarios worked out in my head, but none of those panned out when we actually put them into practice. First, I had the two littles in the double stroller. Brady rolled his suitcase and I tried to push the stroller while pulling the other two bags that were strapped together. Fail. Then I tried having Sully hold the handle of the larger bag with it in front of the stroller. Another fail. We made it through security with pushing the double stroller and Brady pulling all three bags. The TSA agent took pity on me and brought us a cart. We made our way through the airport with me pushing the stroller and Brady pushing the cart with all of the bags. I knew that was not going to work in Atlanta with the tram and the Sky Train, so I finally figured out that it worked best with the older boys walking, the larger bag in the front seat of the stroller, and the two smaller bags on either stroller handle.
We had just had dinner and took our trip to the bathroom (I was not about to try to take them to the bathroom on the plane) when it was time to go. We were first to board the plane. We stopped at the end of the boarding bridge to leave the stroller and the larger bag to be put under the plane and picked up upon arrival in Atlanta. The kids were excited to get in their seats and look out the window. The flight attendant asked them if it was their first flight. Brady spent several minutes explaining that he had flown many times when he was a baby, and once when he was 3 and that Sully had only flown once when he was a baby and he does not remember it. She nodded her head even though I am pretty sure she did not catch all that he had to say. She came back later in the flight with “wings” for all three of the boys. They were beyond ecstatic.
The flight was totally uneventful. The older boys were kept occupied by looking out the window, eating snacks, and ordering a Sprite. They did not even watch the $30 in movies I had purchased. The baby was occupied by flirting with everyone around us and playing with the tray on the back of the seat in front of us.
When we got off the plane, we picked up our stroller but I could not find my bag. I just knew that it was lost. When I asked about it, I was told I had to pick it up at baggage claim. I am SO glad I lugged that thing through the whole airport just to have to go to baggage claim anyway! With our new and improved system, we made it through the Atlanta airport in a snap; the older boys kept one hand on the stroller the whole time. My bag was already there when we made it to baggage claim. We then took the Sky Train to the rental car center. By the time we got our car, it was after 8 pm and all the kids were tired. When I opened the door, I realized they had given me a baby carrier instead of the toddler seat I had asked for. I was tired and not thinking clearly by this point, and in my delirium, I thought the best thing to do was to install the carseat, put Colin in, drive back to the desk and ask for the correct seat. I spent quite a bit of time wrestling with the carseat before discovering that the straps were not long enough to accommodate my chunkster. I ended up having to lug the three kids back to the reservation desk, and again in my haste, thought that carrying Colin was a better idea than bringing the stroller. I do not always make the best decisions when I am tired and in a hurry.
We got the correct carseat and then we made the rest of our trip without a hitch. All three boys fell asleep in the car so I was able to have some peace and reflect on our very long trip. It went well, and when we were getting off the plane, the couple that was sitting across from me commented on how great the kids did. I had to agree with them and I told them that I was far less stressed about travelling with the three of them than I was when we used to travel with just one. It is very strange that three would be easier than one, but in some ways, it really is.