My husband and I, with children in tow, had more than enough time to get to the boarding gate on our recent vacation to Hawaii, but I still found myself out of breath and jogging.
He asked me why I was running and it stumped me. “I don’t know. I think you are just supposed to run in an airport.”
Being in a hurry just seems to run in my veins. Maybe I just am so used to the chaos that being in a hurry brings that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself in a world where there was plenty of time, nothing left behind and happy faces.
Throughout the years I’ve been in serious decompress-the-stress training. Every day I have to work at slowing down, being better prepared and learning to live without the chaos.
Nothing could put me to the test better than a six-plus hour flight with my 2-month-old and 3-year-old (plus a husband and four other family members).
I am pretty sure I aced it, although I still found myself running through the terminal. That is what happens when you aren’t used to being on time and having everything you need.
Here are some tips I’ve learned that turned my traveling circus into a well-orchestrated play (and I’ve got the part of Supermom):
1. Whatever time you think it takes you to get there, add an hour. For our airport scenario, we went through everything step-by-step and the time it would most likely take (driving, shuttle, bags, check-in). Then we added an entire hour for diaper changes, potty breaks, tantrums or traffic.
2. Make a detailed checklist and pack three to four days beforehand. This prevents last-minute laundry diving looking for a certain shirt and provides time the day before to gather your sanity.
3. Research. I spent a lot of time looking at airport guidelines and talking to well-traveled friends. This way I knew what to expect and got great advice. For example: You can wear baby in the front-pack through security and a safety strap hooked to your toddler can add provided security for those distracted moments.
4. Less is more. Throughout the years, I’ve really practiced being an efficient packer. You don’t need to bring everything in your house. I make a pile and then begin eliminating things I know I don’t really need. Just because we all get a carry-on and personal item doesn’t mean we all have to have one.
Side Tip: In Hawaii, I found a company which, for a small daily fee, rents and delivers everything you could imagine for your family such as baby cribs, strollers, toys, bouncy seats and car seats.
5. Print your information. I print not only all of my confirmations and tickets, but also email exchanges that may have important details (such as upgrades or changes). I also print directions, addresses and phone numbers (not all of us have smart phones or GPS). I put it all in a folder in the order of how it will be used (airport to rental car to hotel and so on). This eliminates frantic flipping through paperwork.
6. Make sure your purse or diaper bag isn’t chaos, either. I can’t stand it when people start digging in my purse for money or baby needs. What happens? Things fall out. I try to have cash, diapers and my identification in visible and easy-to-grab areas.
Whether you are traveling or just trying to get ahold of every day life (most mothers are), take time to breath, pray and plan.