a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

Would you sweeten the deal for fellow passengers when flying with babies?

So as we get closer and closer to my due date – we’ve already begun making plans for life with baby, as a family of 5, (wow that feels and sounds weird!) We’ve been looking at tickets to go back to the US next summer to visit family and introduce our new baby girl. It’s hard to believe the boys haven’t been back to the US in over 2 yrs. That’s about half of “Peter Pan’s” life he’s now spent in London. In any case – I’ve been looking at getting 4 seats and then a bassinet seat for “Tinker Bell.” This would be her first flight and she’ll be around 6 months old.

I think the flight to the US is harder than the return, as the return is a night flight and heading out there it’s just a really really long day. I don’t know what kind of baby she’ll be yet, she could be mellow or this could be a real ordeal. I’m probably less anxious about flying with a baby this time around – but of course the fear still lingers. Not just – will she be ok, but, will she be ok enough not to really annoy all of the nearby passengers?

I’m not alone in my anxiety about this – I often think the anxiety parents feel as they fly with a baby, trying to keep it quiet etc, is worse than any annoyance felt by nearby passengers when it’s clear parents are doing their all to keep the baby quiet and resolve the situation if baby is fussy.

A few weeks back I was reading an article about some other parents who were flying for the first time with their new babies – and they created little goody bags to share with nearby passengers.  It actually seemed to positively influence those nearby passengers. Not just the sweets to brighten their day – but clearly showing that these parents were anxious to try and do the right thing, to not inconvenience other passengers, and be sincere in their apologies if they did inconvenience them.

These new parents of twin gave people on the plane candy (and offered earplugs too!). It’s a bit unclear from the articles I read whether they gave these to the whole plane or just the people seated near them.

parents of twin babies give candy to passengers on airplane

“Hello!

We’re twin baby boys on our first flight, and we’re only 14 weeks old! We’ll try to be on our best behavior, but we’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared, or our ears hurt. Our Mom and Dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you want to come by to get a pair.

We hope you have a great flight!”

The pre-apology goody bags came to public notice when a Reddit user on the flight who received one posted it on Reddit. ‘Brilliant and thoughtful parents handed these out to everyone on my flight,’ the appreciative traveler wrote on Reddit

The parents, Christina Diaz, 38, and Michael Rubinstein, 32, were flying with their 14-week-old twins Arrow and Jasper. The boys – didn’t even let out a murmur throughout the five-hour flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. making the pre-apology unnecessary. One fellow passenger reported, ”the parents were fantastic, and the kids were better than would be expected.”

What do you think of the pre-apology goody bags for fellow passengers? Good idea or bad? What would you do differently? 

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5 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

Travelling with Car Seats doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare

Travelling with Car Seats doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Our boys each started travelling with us at around 6 weeks of age. Since then we’ve been going non-stop. Amazingly, babies come with a bunch of stuff! Who knew?

One of the things we found most challenging if it wasn’t a road-trip was what to do with our car seats?

When we first flew from Chicago to Belgium with both of the boys to visit their Grandparents – the Grandparents were confused about why we wanted to either bring carseats – or have them borrow a set. Why couldn’t the kids just take the 45min journey from the airport in our arms? *Sigh*

So we’ve found whether it’s visiting in-laws, or flying and renting a car, often it’s easiest to take our car seats and booster seats along with us.

Different airlines have various rules about 1. if the carseat can come on-board, and 2. if sent as luggage, whether there is a charge or not. It’s best to call the airline ahead of time to get that info. Even if you have that info – don’t be surprised if you get a different answer from the the ticket agent and then again at the check-in desk at your gate. If possible come prepared with a printed copy of the airline’s policy from their website. It will be harder for the airline employee to argue with their company’s publicly printed policy.

So if you are bring your carseat along on vacation with you here are several things to keep in mind.

It doesn’t matter how expensive and amazing the carseat is – expect it to be handled like a sack of rubbish. So, being armed with this knowledge in advance, take necessary precautions, because as I’m sure you know carseats aren’t cheap!

If you are going to take your carseat onto the plane – remember you’ll need to carry it throughout the airport. Also remember you’ll be dragging child, carry-on, purse and any other sticky stuff your child hands you. Thinking about this in advance – it may be good to take something that will help you carry the carseat. While you could take the low-tech option of strapping it to your carry-on while you stroll with a ropes or cords – you may want to consider something specifically designed to carry a large car seat. Strangely – I’ve found not so many options for sale here in the UK so I’ll share some of my favorite American options – which you can order online.

1. Think of it as like a carseat “dolly” or cart. Britax offers their own version – to go along with Britax car-seats, but other brands also come highly rated. (cost is about $60 USD)

2. Throw it over your shoulder. Whether you’re attaching it to your bag, or on your bag – there are options to either carry it in a bag, or back-packs specifically designed to carry your large car seat. My favorite option for this is the “Pac Back” (cost is about $30 USD)

3. Strap the car-seat to your rolling suitcase. Special clips have been designed for that. (No need to resort to ropes or bungee cords). (Cost is about $15 USD)

 

 

If you are checking your carseat – consider purchasing a carseat cover. While you can purchase one of these new, depending upon how frequently you think you’ll use it, this is one item that can be purchased lightly used on Ebay that will yield a considerable savings!

Booster Seats

While I wouldn’t normally recommend purchasing a car-seat used, if you are travelling and need a booster seat for your child – think about buying a set you could leave or discard at your destination.

On our recent ski trip with the kids to Switzerland – we were told that it would be 10GBP ($16 USD) per day, per child to rent booster seats. That means it would cost approximately 140 GBP ($224 USD) for 2 children to have booster seats for the week which I think you’ll agree with me is pretty outrageous!

While I do understand the dangers of purchasing a second hand car-seat and fully support not buying a used car seat for the following reasons:

  • you don’t know how old it is
  • you don’t know its history
  • you don’t know if it’s been in an accident

In my personal opinion (of which you should make your own informed choices and I’m certainly no expert on the subject) I’m ok with second hand booster seats.

Here’s why in my opinion I’m ok with it – for booster seats, the point isn’t to protect the child from impact etc, it’s to boost them up higher in the seat so that the seat belt can fit them properly. The child needs to continue to use the booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt lies correctly across the child’s chest and lap. The belt should sit comfortably across the lap, hitting the upper thighs, and the chest strap should cross the child from the shoulder and not the neck.

So for our recent trip to Switzerland – what I did was purchase 2 used Britax booster seats from Ebay (3GBP each) and throw them in a plastic carry-all which we checked as part of our baggage allowance. We then had 2 booster seats there at the airport ready to use when we arrived to pick up our rental car, which we had no trouble leaving behind. (Especially since on the way back our baggage increased with purchases, souvenirs etc. )

These certainly aren’t the only options – and I’d love to hear your ideas on how you all have managed travelling with car seats. I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips or advice you have to share!

So, as added incentive I’m creating a giveaway for a “Pac Back” car seat carrier giveaway!

Please share your ideas and or experience in the comments below – and you’ll be entered to win a new “Pac Back”

About the Pac Back: Conveniently transport your car seat from one place to another while keeping your hands free. Designed by a mother who frequently travels with her children, the Pac Back is an easy-to-use car seat carrier system. Lightweight and durable, this innovative carrier is manufactured from materials that are built to last: tough, high-density nylon with heavy gauge shoulder straps. A padded waist strap, padded hip protectors and soft padded lumbar support provide comfort while carrying. The Pac Back fits all car and booster seats.

It has numerous positive reviews on Amazon (which is why I bought it in the first place )
“The Pac Back made it possible to carry the car seats and still have both hands free. ” quote from Amazon review

Prize Eligibility
Only persons residing in United Kingdom who are at least 18 years of age can enter.
Giveaway Entry Period Starts
May 6th, 2012 @ 06:30 am (BST)
Giveaway Entry Period Ends
May 15, 2012 @ 09:00 pm (BST)

- Only those over 18, who reside in the UK may enter.
- Entrants must be over the age of 18
- Entrants must be based within the UK
- 1 winner will be selected at random to win a prize
- Entrants must comment on this blog post to qualify for entry

Entrants can enter the Sweepstakes for free by emailing transatlanticmom @ gmail (dot) com and requesting details about alternate registration.

(disclosure – I purchased this item, its new, never used – we ended up not taking the train trip we’d intended for it then the boys grew out of car-seats and on to booster seats. I have been in no way compensated by this post by any of the brands or products mentioned.)

5 years ago 5 Comments Short URL

Medicines abroad – or lack thereof

Last week while visiting the Grandparents in Belgium, my 4yr old came down with an earache. It was Sunday, late – and a holiday weekend to boot. This meant there would be absolutely nothing open. No place to get pain meds for a child. It’s not like they are anti-meds, they whole a whole cupboard dedicated to meds – it’s like a small pharmacy, but what they didn’t have was pain reliever or fever reducer for children. (It is times like these I truly miss the 24hr stores in the US – and in the UK we live within a block of the only 24 hr pharmacy) I think there are very few things that make you feel so helpless as a parent as when your child is screaming in pain and crying and all you can do is hold them.

When I was a child – I remember my parents putting warmed almond oil into my ear to have the heat help soothe it – but we didn’t even have that handy. So I did what every geeky Mom does and reached out to other parents via Twitter.

Within a few minutes I had several credible suggestions including: warm water bottle or washcloth against the ear, warmed olive oil. Unfortunately my guy didn’t want warm he wanted cool – so instead of fighting him to try and soothe him, we asked him what would make his ear feel better.  His first suggestions was “cold” so we put an ice-cube in a plastic bag, wrapped in towels and let him apply that for a while.

Do you know that thing from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the Dad puts Windex (window cleaner) on every ailment as a cure-all? Well my 4yr old feels the same about cold wet towels. Any type of scrape, scratch, itch, bump, freckle must have a wet towel applied to cure it. So it was only with a cold damp towel over the side of his head, wrapped up in my arms, us sitting upright did he eventually fall asleep. I remember sitting up, holding him, trying to sleep thinking – how wonderful it would be if they made baby swings in his size. (or wait, better yet – come to think of it, mine!)

The morning came quickly – although he had fitfully fallen asleep around 2, he still woke up bright eyed at 6am feeling perky and wanting to play. Not so much me. How do kids do that?

In hindsight – we’ve become rather lax with all the kiddy accoutrements. Once we shed that baby bag – we’ve been trying to pack light ever since. (Hence we only brought 2 suitcases, 3 backpacks, 1 messenger bag and 1 carry-all on a 1 wk trip to Belgium :0) ) We brought children’s toothpaste, decongestant for the trip and sleeping buddies as well as clothes and toys – but didn’t bring the children’s fever/pain medicine. It will definitely be the first thing we pack from now on.

It’s not like we don’t have a stockpile. Not only have we learned about Children’s Calpol and other UK children’s meds – but each time I travel back and forth to the US I stock up on that melt-in-your mouth cherry/grape/bubblegum flavored Children’s Tylenol (or generic equivalent). My guys never liked the syrup – so having one that melts in their mouth is quite handy. Finding new meds/the right meds in a new country can be kind of daunting but luckily I’ve had a great network of UK Mums who’ve helped guide me through Motherhood in the UK.

 

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5 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

Keeping in touch while traveling

One of the hardest things while traveling for work is keeping in touch with the kids. You’d think in this day and age it would be easier than it is – but with timezones and tech it can often be a challenge.

The hardest is when I’m on the West Coast in the US and trying to chat with the boys back in London – it’s almost a half-day away in terms of timezones, so there ‘s almost never a convenient time to connect between my meetings, their school and sleep schedule.

When I do reach out – I prefer not to use my UK cell phone, due to roaming charges but instead use FaceTime on my iPhone to connect with the boys/family at home via iPad or MacBook – or use skype on my phone or computer. Both of these options (FaceTime and Skype) require a good internet connection, so it’s essential to find a good wireless hotspot.

Often – when I try and connect with the boys via FaceTime,  I get rejected, as they’ll be playing their games on it – I try and ring through and they hit the cancel or reject button! Arrrgh. After trying to get through multiple times I finally resort to calling the house phone (using my expensive roaming phone) to tell them to stop rejecting me and pick up my call. Then when I do get on, they’re like Mummy I miss you but can you go away I’m playing iPad. Then I hear later that they cry because they miss me and didn’t get to talk to me. I think there’s no way to win on that one.

How do you keep in touch while traveling – any advice?

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5 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Bonjour Disneyland Paris

My eldest son J who turns 6 next month has become aware of that childhood mecca – Disney (land/world). He’s been asking us to tivo the commercials for Disneyland Paris, asking us to write down the phone number and sneaking up on me at odd times to gravely let me know that Disney is currently on sale and that he as a child can stay and play free.

Good job Disney – clearly your marketing has reached your intended demographic and is resonating well. I wonder how long it will be before you see a return on that investment (ok fine, we’ll cave soon).

In a way I’m surprised it’s taken him/them this long to ask. But having lived in Chicago previously to London with the kids – it wasn’t like there was a Disney nearby. We’re actually closer now, here in London to Disney (Disneyland Paris aka Euro-Disney), than we were in Chicago to the 2 in the U.S.

I have a friend in the US who is/was on the Disney Moms Board – but I think he may have turned in his mouse-ears and stepped down. Not sure if there is something similar here in Europe. Anyone happen to know? I’m starting to information gather for our upcoming (as of yet unscheduled) visit to the Magic Kingdom and any sites/resources/blogs you know of would be great if you could share them or your experience and tips and tricks for Disneyland Paris

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6 years ago 0 Comments Short URL
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