Because I am a prepper (doomsday and day to day) I have spent a good deal of time perusing articles about traveling with children and making the most of family vacations. I have polled friends who have revealed amazing secrets and tips for happy airplane rides. We have gum and gummy bears for when the plane ascends and descends to help little ears adjust to changes in cabin pressure. I have packed several different types of toys, crafts, and games to engage their ephemeral attention. I have packed in such a way that only the eldest has a bag to carry and it is light and full of fun. I have coordinated their outfits as a safety precaution in case we are separated. I have everyone wearing shoes that are easy to slip on and off to make going through security as easy as possible for everyone. I have explained these new experiences to our timid child and we have acted out some of these scenarios. I have bought every type of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipe ever created. I have bought specifically TSA approved 3.4 ounce liquids and packed them in The Official TSA Ziplock Baggie. I even bought products we don’t normally use because they had the words “Airline approved” stamped on the box. So if anyone needs a 3.4 ounce container of Tide, Old Spice, or Maalox call me.
Every question I had for trip prepping was answered swiftly and completely. What a lovely fairy tale of trip tralalalalala-ing! Now all we needed to do is ride our unicorn to the airport, sprinkle fairy dust on the plane and fly over the rainbow off into the sunset.
Wait what is with this sudden shift in tone, you ask? Perhaps you had your pen and paper and were taking copious notes as I spouted trip advice. That is because you and I were asking the wrong questions. Who the heck cares what the friggin flights are like?? It’s like three and a half hours of your day cramped with strangers who may hate you by the end, but they’ll just tweet about how much they hate you and be on their merry way. Here is the question we should have been asking, “Is it possible to survive the week leading up to the non refundable flight?”
I cannot answer that question yet.
We have not yet boarded the plane.
We are still in that week.
Allow me to break this down for you:
Seven days before the trip we all woke up healthy and happy. Our count down to Florida was one week away! Eight hours later our youngest woke up from a nap with the highest fever I have ever seen in all my baby raising days. We had to give her a cool bath and Motrin and continue Motrin and Tylenol to keep it at or below 104. Once it stopped climbing the nurse gave us a doctor’s appointment for the next day. It was a long and scary night.
Six days before the trip she tested positive for RSV. As a mommy who had a newborn spend time in the NICU, that diagnosis terrified me. I was assured that it most likely would just be like a really bad cold and that the rest of our fam would probably catch it, but it shouldn’t be as bad.
Five days before the trip she started doing better, but her sister started to seem a little off and one of my boys’ eyeballs turned pink just for poops and giggles.
Four days before the trip our second daughter started running a fever. I figured it was the RSV starting to happen. Why wouldn’t I think that?? We had a highly contagious virus currently happening in our home. Of course that’s what it was.
Three days before the trip I happened to catch a glimpse in her mouth. And then I grabbed a flashlight and started taking pictures of the back of her throat. This was not RSV. And our pediatrician is out of town for Spring Break, so I texted my friend who is also an amazing doctor and asked her what she thought was going on. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Another highly contagious virus. I immediately ordered our boys outside for the day so I could disinfect and TRY to contain all of this whilst also packing. I’m not sure when my fair, blonde haired, blue eyed boy stripped down to just his underwear, but it was definitely after I fed them lunch. He came in at 3:00 looking very lobster-esque. This child does not tan, he only burns. I think his bare, unsunscreened skin has seen the sun twice in his life.
Two days before the trip. Well, that’s today. Daughter is mean and covered in the Hand Foot and Mouth virus. Son is mean and a violent shade of red. Baby is grouchy. Oldest boy is stir crazy and full of excited(loud) energy. And I am writing to you. Save yourself! Never tell your children your travel plans. Do not give them even the smallest hint that anything is happening to disrupt life as they know it. It is like when you announce to your children “We are in a hurry!” and suddenly they all “NEED TO GO NUMBER 2 RIGHT NOW”. Only instead of a five minute delay, you wake bleary eyed a couple of days before your trip wondering what fresh hell this day will bring.