It has always bothered me when I hear this phrase or its variations. When you are a reader, people often say this to you with an air of importance. Like you are living a life of leisure that allows for reading while they are busy with real life.
The reality is that we are all busy with real life and we all prioritize different things. People who say, “I don’t have time to read” are really saying, “I choose not to read with my free time.”
I have less time for reading now than I once did, but that’s because I chose to have kids and prioritize parenting over reading. It isn’t because “I don’t have time to read.” And I could still read plenty if I chose to. My kid goes to bed by 7:30 and I don’t go to bed until 10:30. That’s 21 hours each week that I could be reading. Just because I’d rather sit on the couch and watch Friends reruns with my husband at the end of the day doesn’t grant me the right to say “I don’t have time to read” to someone who doesn’t make that same choice as me.
Would I have more time to read if I were a stay at home mom? Probably not, unless I prioritized reading over other things like, say, showering or having clean dishes or preparing activities to do with my kid. Would I have more time to read if I didn’t have a toddler? Not exactly. I might have more opportunities to read, but I would still be sacrificing other activities in order to do so.
I often feel like I don’t have time to read. But I know plenty of working moms who read a ton. They just don’t watch Friends reruns all night. It’s that simple.
It’s okay if you are the person who is making time to read or if you are the person who isn’t. Neither person is better.
The simple fact is that we all have the exact same hours in the day. Saying “I don’t have time to read” to someone who makes the time to read is, at best, inaccurate, and, at worst, insulting.
If I am counting correctly, I have taken Evan on 12 different trips involving airplanes, which, including connecting and return flights, adds up to about 30 separate flights. And he’s not even 3 yet. He took his first flight at 7 weeks. And by 7 months, he had been on 8 different airplanes.
When people know this, I get asked for tips. I have talked several first time moms through their first flight planning. Which is why I thought this post might be helpful. Now, I only know what it’s like to travel with one child at this point, so my knowledge is limited to that, but it always seems to be the first time moms of singlets that are the most nervous about flying with their babies, so I still think it’s helpful. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up after we’ve flown with Baby Brother a few times.
Disclaimer: Babies are absolutely safer in car seats on airplanes than they are on your lap. The FAA agrees. This is common sense but not widely practiced. The reason lap infants are still allowed is purely due to political influence and monetary decisions and has nothing to do with safety. On top of that, checking your car seat is a bit risky and not bringing one means that you have to rely on a questionable seat at your destination (I have never used a rental car carseat and I don’t ever plan on it). That said, I only started buying Evan a seat at 15 months and I am not sure what I’ll do with Baby Brother when it comes time to take him on a plane.
Tip #1: Check As Much as You Can
Check as many of your bags as possible. You will still have a lot of stuff to carry but get rid of everything you can. This is why I love Southwest – free bags!
We usually bring one carryon bag for each of us. A diaper bag for E, a camera bag for me, and Ben’s school bag for him. We bring the car seat and sometimes we bring a stroller. We put everything else we don’t need on the plane into suitcases that we happily check.
Tip #2: Pack Light, But Smart
Evan’s bag has diapers (lots!), a change of clothes for him and me (I’ve actually had to change my shirt in my airplane seat thanks to spit-up), snacks, a water bottle (which I fill after security), his kindle, headphones, and a couple of books and toys. That’s it. My bag usually just has my camera, personal items, book, and water, and Ben’s just has his school work, computer, and a book. My boss would tell you to embrace the stuff. I say minimize it.
Tip #3: Park Close
I park as close to the airport as I possibly can. We used to use the economy lot, but now I’ll gladly pay 4 extra dollars per day to avoid a shuttle. If you can get a ride, even better.
Tip #4: Wear Your Baby; Push Your Stuff
Once my bags are checked, I have two ways of getting through the airport, but they both involve wearing Evan. In scenario 1, I bring a stroller and use it to lug the carry-ons and car seat and, in scenario 2, I borrow my friends Go Go Babyz wheels and turn the car seat into a roller bag and use THAT to lug all of the bags. In either circumstance, I wear Evan through the airport and security, no exceptions. I’ve watched parents go through security where they have to take little ones out of strollers or wrangle energetic or unhappy toddlers while trying to take their shoes and belts off and TRUST ME wearing your kid is so much easier. E is over 3 feet tall and more than 30 pounds and I still throw him on my back in the ergo. I’ve only been questioned about it twice by misinformed TSA agents.
Most airports will usher you through the family line, which means you get to skip the long one with all of the common folk and get through security faster. Once you go through the metal detector wearing or carrying a child, they will do a quick test on your hands to make sure you don’t have any explosive residue. It takes a few seconds. Despite the 3-oz liquid rule, you can bring formula/expressed breast milk/liquid snacks for children. Kids under 12 can also leave their shoes on through security.
Tip #5: Find a Play Area or Create Your Own
For me, waiting to board the airplane is the hardest part. Some airports have some pretty awesome play areas (MSP, I’m talking to you) which make it so much easier. It’s also a great way to burn some energy since your kid has been cooped up and will be cooped up even more one you get on the plane. If there is no play area, I spend my time chasing E around the airport, which becomes a playground itself. If you have anything to gate check (your stroller, car seat, etc.) don’t forget to get a tag for it at the counter before boarding begins.
Tip # 6: Boarding Sucks But It’s Over Quickly
Some airlines pre-board families and some don’t. I generally fly Southwest where families can board after the A group (at most 60 people) boards. Before the merger with Southwest took full effect, Airtran didn’t preboard at all and, if you didn’t pay extra, they’d assign you all to different parts of the plane. I would then have to get the gate agent to switch them (although I liked the idea of letting someone else hangout with E for the flight while I took a nap). The last time I flew Delta, I was still able to pick seats together for free. On Southwest, where there is open seating, I’ve never had trouble finding seats together when boarding with families (although I still try to get one of us a coveted A spot if I can).
Sometimes I have Ben board first to install the car seat since that takes a few minutes. When I’m by myself, it’s a bit more complicated. Picture me with a toddler on my back, two bags on my front, and a car seat over my head walking down a partially-boarded plane. Then picture me installing the car seat while the toddler is still on my back. It’s awkward but a bit empowering. People actually cheer you on. Seriously. And once in awhile someone offers to help. LET THEM. If a stranger wants to carry my carseat for me, I gladly hand it over. If you have a stroller, or if you’re gate checking your carseat, you’ll leave it at the end of the jetway to gate-check. If you are using a car seat on the plane, it has to be used in a window seat. Others will say you need the lap extender to install the car seat but I find it easier to do without it. You might not be able to install the car seat rear-facing, so make sure you’ve adjusted the straps accordingly. Every time I get on an airplane, I swear I have less space.
Tip #7: Car Seats Are Your Friend
Now that Evan is a toddler, he uses a car seat on planes and he will for a long time. It keeps him restrained and comfortable and safe. Plus, it’s familiar. They only time I let him out is to change a diaper because a taste of freedom is too much for him to handle. Some people let their kids wander the aisle, but I’ve never felt comfortable doing that (E is a runner) and I’ve never felt it necessary on my usual 2-3 hour flights. I am thinking about getting the CARES harness for Evan after Baby Brother is here so we don’t have to travel with two car seats. It’s FAA approved and seems better than letting a 3-year-old use just a lapbelt to me.
Tip #8: Nurse or Give Snacks & Water for Ears
When Evan was a baby and I flew with him as a lap infant, I would generally nurse him during takeoff and landing. This is supposed to help with the ears but Evan has honestly never seemed to have an issue with the pressure. I will give him frequent sips of water or chewy snacks to try to get his ears popping.
Tip #7: Don’t Bother With Restrooms for Diaper Changes
We do diaper changes in our seats and only if absolutely necessary. Airplane bathrooms are SMALL. Some of them have changing tables. Some of them do not. I’ve never used one and I’ve changed a lot of mid-flight diapers (I used to say Evan hasn’t met a plane he can’t poop on). We just lay him across our laps and do our thing. (This also where cloth diapers actually come in handy because you don’t even need to get up to dispose of anything). I always change E’s diaper before and after a flight in an attempt to minimize mid-flight changes.
If you’re by yourself and need to use the restroom, page a flight attendant. They are usually willing to sit with your kid for a minute while you run to the restroom. I’d wait until all of the beverages/snacks are distributed before asking this favor though.
Tip #8: Unlimited Screen Time/Unlimited Snacks
As for entertainment, I have an unlimited screen time and unlimited snacking rule when traveling. Evan’s screen time is limited at home so this is a real treat for him. We even got him his own Kindle specifically for traveling. I pack a large ziplock bag with fruit snacks, crackers, and other treats and Evan gets to pick whatever he wants. I figure one day here and there where he eats four bags of fruit snacks isn’t going to kill him. I also like to fly at nap time and bedtime (in pajamas) and hope he sleeps. But sometimes this backfires. His worst flight ever was last month when I was flying alone with him from DC to Tampa. It was way past his bedtime and he whined and cried from exhaustion for the last hour of the flight but refused to sleep. I usually bring crayons and small toys but we never end up using them. Evan is pretty content watching Mickey or playing a game on his Kindle.
Tip #9: Make It Fun
I make the whole thing an adventure. Evan loves it when I tell him we’re going to the airport. He loves watching the plane go really fast and take off. He counts it down like it’s a rocket ship and then claims that we are in outer space. He loves being in the clouds. He loves talking to everyone we meet along the way and winning them over with his charm. I am a nervous flyer. When I’m not pregnant, I actually take anti-anxiety meds to help me get through flights. But having Evan with me is a wonderful distraction and it’s so fun to watch him be so excited about something as annoying as air travel.
Tip #10: Things Will Go Wrong So Go with the Flow
First, PLEASE do not be one of those people who bring a goody bag for all of the people on the plane because it is your kid’s first flight. Your child has as much of a right to be there as the guy rolling his eyes at you as you walk on the plane. Keep your kid from disturbing others as much as possible but don’t let other passengers intimidate you. Most people are friendly and understanding. And if they’re not, that’s not your problem.
Your kid might get upset. Your kid might kick the seat in front of you. Your kid might throw up all over you (this has happened to me twice). It’s all temporary and it won’t stop you from getting to your destination. You’re a parent, just do your thing like always.
I hope some of you find this helpful. Traveling with a small child seems daunting, but with some good planning, it really is very manageable. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks I missed in the comments.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (audio)
Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace (print)
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (audio)
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (print)
On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Bliss (audio)
Why Can’t I Be You by Allie Larkin (print)
March (currently reading):
I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (print)
The Care and Management of Lies by Jaqueline Winspear (audio)
February was a terrible month for me, which is why I’ve been MIA. I had a little hiccup in my pregnancy, which turned out to be nothing, but still required a lot of time and effort (and money) to get to that answer. My mom had some health issues going on. My grandmother passed away. My computer went on strike. The house needed work. The only reason that I even read as much as I did (4 books!) was because I spent a fair bit of time away from home and on airplanes. I had no energy left for blogging. I literally woke up every morning hoping to get through the day without anyone calling me with bad news. I couldn’t have been happier when March rolled around. And things are looking much better now. I’m good, the baby is good, my mom is good, and the weather down here is gorgeous.
So, maybe I’ll be back soon with some book reviews. Maybe I’ll be back with some other things. We’ll see. For now, I leave you with some photos of Evan:
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
I want to thank whoever recommended this one to me. I know I’m behind the times, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.The characters were whimsical and the plot pushed the boundaries of reality. I was hooked early on and through all of its crazy antics, I just kept hanging on for the ride.
Fellow Gilmore Girls fans will recognize Kathleen Wilhoite’s voice immediately as that of Luke’s sister, Liz. She has an excellent voice for this novel, with the ability to portray both 14-year-old Bee and an array of adults.
Trish recently posted A Day in the Life as a Working Mom. I loved the concept and I would love to see what a day in everyone else’s crazy life is like. So here is one of mine. This was a light day. It wasn’t necessarily typical, but none of them are exactly the same.
7am – Alarm goes off. I turn it off and let E wake me up since we both had a very late night. Ben went to work at least an hour ago. I have no memory of this – I just know it happened.
7:30am – E wakes up after sleeping in (he’s generally awake around 6:45 but will quietly wait for his owl to turn green and signal morning at 7am). I go get him and he says he’s still tired but he wants yogurt.
7:35 – After changing E’s diaper, I get him yogurt. I make his lunch and eat a banana while he eats.
7:45 – We go upstairs so I can shower. E eats a tortilla (yes, a tortilla for breakfast) and watches Clifford in my bed. He asks me to cuddle for a minute. I can’t say no to cuddle requests.
7:55 – I finally get in the shower. E wanders in after 5 minutes wondering if I am still in the shower.
8:05 – I get ready while trying to keep E entertained. He plays with my makeup brushes and mirror. I get dressed, run a flat iron through my hair, and put make up on.
8:25 – I chase E around the house trying to get him dressed. I succeed only by promising he can hold the mirror again. I negotiate an outfit with him and change a poopy diaper. He refuses to wear shoes.
8:35 – I pack up the car then chase E around the house while he tries to play with my foam roller. I finally catch E and carry him to the car (no shoes still). I yell at him for slouching while I try to buckle him in. Then I feel bad for yelling at him.
8:45 – We arrive at preschool after Evan narrated the half-mile drive for me (complete with monsters and polar bears). I walk E into the classroom and say goodbye (I always get a hug and a kiss). I tell E I’ll see him later and leave him happily playing with his friends.
8:55 – I have a granola bar and orange juice on the drive to work. I listen to NPR because I’m feeling disconnected from the greater world.
9:05 – I finally get to work. This is definitely on the late side for me. I aim for 8:30 but try to at least get there by 9. It’s usually closer to the latter.
9:05 – I work. It’s kind of a slow week. Boss gives me a few projects to work on. I return phone calls and emails. I review some documents. I discuss cases with the other lawyers. I gchat about finances with Ben because I am pretty sure I haven’t really seen him since Sunday (it is Wednesday). I might also do a little tweeting.
12pm – Lunch. The three of us lawyers in the office at noon go out, like those of us who are around do every day. Big boss wanted to go to a restaurant pretty far away so lunch ran a bit long.
1:15-3 – More work. And snacking.
3:10 – I leave work early.
3:30pm – I arrive at my 19 week appointment with midwife. Ben and E meet me there (Ben picks E up from school at 3pm every day). I meet a midwife I hadn’t met yet and really like her. We listen to the baby’s heartbeat and then listen to Evan’s heartbeat.
4:30 – We leave the birth center. I call my mom on the way home for an update on my 89-year-old grandma who isn’t doing very well.
4:50 – We all get home. This is late for Ben and early for me. Evan slept on the way home because he didn’t feel like napping at school. We scrub our planned meal (spaghetti squash casserole) due to time constraints (Ben wasn’t planning on going to my appointment). Ben usually cooks since he’s home first.
5:00 – Ben and I try to have a conversation while E yells at us not to talk and throws things at the tv.
5:20 – Ben gets dinner ready. We end up with fake chicken nuggets and potatoes/veggies. Not the best meal but not the worst. I entertain a very cranky E.
5:45 – Dinner time. We try to have family dinner at the table every night.
6:10 – We play Wii Sports Resort for a few minutes because E has been asking for an hour. Evan likes sword-fighting the best.
6:25 – Ben leaves for his adjunct teaching job. Evan and I switch to watching Octonauts (lots of screen time on a no-nap/extra-whiny day). I do the dishes and pick up while E watches the show.
6:48 – I decide we need to do something other than watch tv and we color and use stamps for a bit.
7pm – Bath time. This is a half hour earlier than usual but E is beyond tired and I am out of ideas to keep him from melting down. After I wash him, I let him play in the water while I fold and put his clothes away.
7:25 – I finally get E out of the bath and go through the bedtime routine. Pajamas, brush teeth, read 3 books, sleep sack, close curtains, turn off light, play music, give hugs and kisses, and tuck Evan into bed.
7:48 – I leave E’s room. We’re usually done around 8 but the head start helped me out. He’s easy to put down. I don’t expect to hear a peep until morning.
7:50 – I consider washing my hair but convince myself I can get one more day out of this wash (yay, long hair). I go downstairs and make tea (Stash Spice Dragon Red Chai decaf) and read (The Winner’s Curse) instead. I’m probably only reading because I know I’m doing this post. If I’m honest, I’d have picked Gilmore Girls otherwise.
8:25 – Ben comes home from his class. We chat for a few minutes about lazy students and anti-vaxxers. We spend time trying to figure out how to watch already-aired NBC shows on one of the tvs (no cable). We ponder why there is no NBC app for either Apple TV and Roku. We finally decide to just plug the chromebook into the TV and realize that isn’t working either (cable cutting certainly takes a bit of effort).
9pm – Ben and I watch some Parks and Rec. We are really behind. I eat a bowl of cereal. I am always hungry.
9:50 – We decide to head upstairs early. We get ready for bed.
10pm – We watch Friends in bed.
10:30pm – We are both asleep. This is about right for Ben but early for me. I’m rarely asleep before 11. I generally stay up watching more Gilmore Girls and/or gchatting with Jen.
I didn’t mean to come back from a break and then immediately go another. Whoops. 2015 does not seem to be any less busy than 2014 so far, so we’ll see how this blogging thing goes. Does life just get busier and busier and busier? It seems like it.
Anyway, I finished my first and second books of 2015. Betsy and the Great World inprint and Her Fearful Symmetry on audio. I started Grasshopper Jungle in print but there is no way I can finish it before my book club meeting tomorrow night so I think I may put it down in favor of something I’ve picked out on my own. Brutal Youth perhaps? Or the one review copy I have laying around from when I still thought requesting books was a good idea? I am debating my next audio. Her Fearful Symmetry took me ages (well, months, at least) to get through so I want to make sure I choose wisely.
I’ve got a lazy day at home, after a fun/busy day not at home yesterday, so I might be able to read a few lines. On Wednesday I am heading to Tallahassee sans famille for a meeting for a few days. Perhaps I can get some reading done then.
In January of 2005, right after Ben and I got married, I decided to read Anna Karenina. While I was reading that Russian chunkster, Ben read 8 books. He then challenged me to “catch up” to him, so we started actually tracking the books we read. This became an ongoing competition and it means that we can actually tally the number of books we’ve read in our entire ten years of marriage. As I was thinking about whether or not that would be an interesting post, I started thinking about other marriage statistics I could share. It became a fun task for us to think back and try to remember everything we have done together. I hope you enjoy reading this at least a little bit because we had a lot of fun compiling it.
Books Read: 1079 (Michelle – 507/Ben – 572)
This means that Ben averages just over a book a week and I average just under a book a week. Of course, these averages are rapidly falling, but that’s pretty impressive, right?
States Visited: 21
Countries Visited: 10
Homes Lived In: 4
Months Lived Apart: 17.5
Cars Owned: 3
Pets: 2 (plus temporary custody of another)
Surgeries: 2 (Both Ben. Both ACL reconstruction.)
Jobs: 18 (Michelle – 7/Ben – 11)
Degrees Obtained: 2 (Michelle – JD/Ben – MA)
Tweets: 76,953 (Michelle – 76,200/Ben – 753)
Races: 12 (Michelle – 10/Ben – 6)(ran 4 together)
Concerts Attended Together: 10 (This seems low and is based entirely on Ben’s ticket albums. We must have lost a lot of tickets along the way.)
Sporting Events Attended Together: 44 (That’s a lot of Tigers games.)
Plays/Musicals Attended Together: 6
And then of course there are all of the uncountable things, like the number of times we’ve laughed, the number of times we’ve cried, or the number of hours we’ve spent on the couch watching Netflix.
I’ve never really tried to monetize this blog. I don’t have ads. I have an amazon associate account but I am terrible at actually using it. I pay to host this blog out of my hard-earned money because I like it.
But today I have referral links for you. I want to be up front that they are referral links, but I am not sharing them simply because they are referral links. I am sharing them because they are products/services that I actually love. The referral bonus is just that, a bonus. And remember, I am going to have another mouth to feed. JK. Sort of.
First up: Gazelle.
Gazelle is where I trade in all of my old electronics. They usually pay me enough for my old iPhone to cover the subsidized cost of a new one. Why leave your old devices sitting around when you could trade them in for actual cash?
How does it work?
You tell Gazelle what electronic you want to send them. They give you an offer. If your product lives up to your description of it, they send you money via check, paypal, or Amazon gift cards. It’s worked out for me every single time (several iPhones, an iPad, and counting).’
Interested? Check it out here. Using this link will get you an extra $10 on your first item.
Next up: Stitch Fix.
I won’t be using Stitch Fix for awhile, both because my belly is expanding at a seemingly exponential rate but also because it just isn’t in my budget. But if it is in YOUR budget, it is a fantastic and fun way to get new clothes. I’ve never had a box where I didn’t like at least one thing and I have kept my whole box on at least one occasion. If they get your style wrong the first time, you can teach them for the next box. Easy peasy. And keeping a pinterest page on outfits you like is super helpful for them.
How does it work?
You pay $20 and schedule a box to be delivered to your house. There is no monthly commitment – do it as often or seldom as you like. The box arrives with 5 pieces of clothing or accessories in it. You keep what you want and send back what you don’t. If you keep the whole box, you get a pretty sizable discount. The $20 you originally paid can be used toward items in the box, so as long as you keep one thing, you’re good.
I may be a Dave Ramsey follower now, but I haven’t closed this credit card yet (but it is paid off). I was able to get Evan a companion pass for nearly 2 years (meaning he flies for free with me) and I was able to get all three of us to DC and Michigan, Evan and I to Minneapolis and Santa Fe, and myself to St. Louis all on points in 2014. And I think I have enough to cover myself for a trip home in March so we only have to pay for one plane ticket for all three of us to go home. Out of all the credit cards I have ever had, this is the best reward value I have experienced. If you fly and can fly Southwest, this card is amazing.
How does it work?
You sign up. You get 50,000 points just for signing up. You use your credit card. You get more points. You use it at Southwest or one of their partners and you get double points.
Tip 1: They also have a business card, so if you qualify for that, you can get both and combine your signup bonuses for 100,000 points. Then, you only have to earn 10k more to get the companion pass. This is what I did.
Tip 2: Southwest will tell you 50,000 points will get you two roundtrip flights, but used wisely, it will actually get you more. I could get home and back 4 times on 50,000 points if I scheduled it right.
This is Amy Poehler’s addition to the wonderful string of female comedian memoirs. Discussing her career, her family, and everything in between.
I learned a lot about Amy Poehler. While I am a devoted Parks and Rec fan, and her stint on SNL corresponded with a time in my life in which I could still stay up until 1am, I actually didn’t know anything about the Upright Citizens Brigade. She is one busy woman!
I also learned that Amy is a little cruder, but perhaps even funnier, than I thought.
Seth Meyers’ chapter was my favorite. Or maybe the one written by her parents. I would be happy with a tribute half as touching in my own memoir.
If you read this in print, I think you made a mistake.