I Was That Mom on the Plane With Twin Toddlers (But Somehow We All Survived)

toddler airplaneWe’ve all been there. You’re getting on the plane and there’s a baby or small child wailing, screaming, throwing a fit and you think, “Oh God, please don’t let them be sitting near me.” Now imagine you’re the mom of said child, and you have not only one but two of them --18-month-old twins. And you’re traveling alone with them. Yep. I did it. And here’s what I learned NOT to do!


1. DON'T bother asking for advice on Facebook. Most of the tips included Booze, Benadryl or Baggies. A. I didn’t think getting other passengers drunk -- or getting drunk myself -- would encourage the tolerance needed for two toddlers. B. The Benadryl bottle label specifically warns it’s not to be used to put children to sleep. (I packed it anyway -- in case of emergency.) C. Lots of people advised me to prepare goody-bags full of treats and an apologetic note to hand out to other passengers. But I’m the mom of twins; I barely had time to pack my bag, much less a dozen baggies.

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2. DON'T let them out of their stroller! The boys love wheels. Anything that rolls, they want to push. Their stroller -- cute! The cart for the soda deliveries -- problematic. The gargantuan dumpster standing unattended and empty at the top of a pedestrian ramp -- Drama in Real Life! The thing has no lock and no brake, that I could find. They pushed it right into the emergency exit, where the dumpster was the perfect height to press the handlebar, setting off the loudest alarm ever. Security personnel came running; I had visions of the TSA evacuating the terminal and re-screening every passenger. In reality, they punched in the security code and glare at me for not tying down, I mean, strapping my energetic darlings into their stroller.

3. DON'T let them express their individuality. This is not the time for individual outfits. Double trouble means they need to look doubly-cute. So dress them up and dress them the same. Hey, when the alarm goes off in the terminal, blowing out the eardrums of everyone nearby, it’ll be harder for them to hurl nasty slurs about your parenting if your children are a perfectly matched set of beautiful boys.

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4. Don’t pack a lot. At least not for yourself. You won’t have time to read a book or magazine, break out your iPad. You won’t have a chance to put on lipstick or even drink water. And you need the room in your backpack/diaper bag for the diapers and wipes, at least two extra change of toddler clothes, toy trucks, books, old iPods, crayons, snot sucker, Benadryl, nail clippers, ibuprofen, toothbrushes, bibs, bottles, sippy cups, snack containers and snacks. Lots and lots and lots of snacks. Because no matter how entertaining the toys are, the snacks are much more interesting to toddlers. And skip the sugar. That will just make them crazier (except in an emergency, where, hell, they’re already ripping the blinds off the airplane windows, go ahead, give them candy.)

5. Don’t refuse the help. When a perfect stranger approaches you in the standing-room only gate, and says, “I just wanted to know if there’s anything I can do to help...” Your answer is a resounding “Yes!” I followed it with, “Can you keep THAT ONE from running down the jetway again while I imprison THIS ONE in the stroller and pick up the turkey and cheese and toys they’ve flung across the whole area. ” I overheard the gate agent saying, “Trust me. You WANT her to pre-board.”

4. Don’t bring the big stroller. Good lord. The US Airways ticket agent gave me holy hell in Phoenix and tried to make me check the damn thing. Can you imagine trying to wrangle two toddlers through the airport without a stroller? She said something about a policy about heavy strollers, yada, yada, yada ... I couldn’t hear her because of all the screaming. Maybe check ahead or tell them traveling alone with twin toddlers constitutes a special need. Wait did I just make point 4 twice? Was that really point 6? See, what happens when you’re the mom of twin toddlers? You can’t even count properly!

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7. DON'T count on anything! Think they’ll nap because you’re flying at naptime? Don’t count on it. Think you’ll just let them play the kazoo in the terminal? Don’t count it. Their short attention span will disappear with the kazoo, and they’ll throwing a screaming tantrum when you try to take it away on the plane. Think you’ll just buy them kid headphones at the airport store? Don’t count it. (They have them at $30 a pop, but nothing sharp to open that plastic clamshell ... and you know how hard those things are to open, even when you have a box cutter!) Think having a seat for each will make life easier? Don’t count it. Both wanted to be on my lap the whole time. Claim a lap baby and buy just one seat. Put the money you save toward a toy that doesn’t make noise.

8. Finally - and most importantly - DON'T pay attention when your husband, friends, relatives, acquaintances, strangers tell you “Just stay home.” If life’s a journey - then I want my boys along for the adventure. You gotta start somewhere.

Ever traveled alone with toddlers? What are your don'ts to add to the list?


About the author: Contessa Brewer is a nationally-recognized, Emmy-award winning news anchor and host of MSNBC's primetime series "Caught on Camera." But her most challenging and rewarding role is that of Mom to twin toddlers Axel and Beckett.

Image via © iStock.com/PJPhoto69

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