Part 1 is here.
5. Get Your Act Together
Listen, I know that having two kids is exhausting and that there's only so much you can do to keep your kids from screaming while on the plane. I know. But that's no excuse to just give up - you HAVE to be "on" at all times. This means that you have to dress decently for the flight (you don't have to wear heels or anything, but please leave the pajamas at home. Seriously.) It also means that your kids, both of them, are your responsibility. Don't let them wander off and bother the other passengers. Don't expect others to do things for you.
I promise you that if people see that are you doing everything in your power to maintain control of the situation, they WILL help. People (usually other mothers but even tattooed teenage boys might surprise you) will offer to entertain the older child while you nurse the baby. They'll find a spork for you (did you know they keep them behind the counter nowadays? First cold medicine and now plastic eating utensils...yet, strangely I don't feel any safer while you travel.).
And this is where I give a thousand virtual kisses to all the kind strangers that helped us out on our trip. There really are a lot of awesome people out there.
You bet I'll never ignore another human traveling alone with kids ever again.
6. Be Assertive
As nice as people can be, sometimes they don't think to help. It's classic bystander effect - in groups of people everyone assumes someone else will surely help and in the end nobody does. Don't let this happen to you. Pick someone and ask for help when you really need it.
Case in point: When I got on the plane and made it all the way back to row 24, I was faced with buckling in two kids and a carry on and only having two hands. How could I possibly manage? I turned to a woman who was clearly thinking the same thing and asked her "would you hold my baby, please?" I never, ever thought I would be saying this to a total stranger, but you know, desperate times.
You know what happened? Two other passengers (one a 10 year-old kid) reached out their hands, eager to help. It's OK to ask. My chosen victim seemed shocked at first, but good-naturedly held Ben while I buckled in Sebastian and put my carry-on away. She also offered to hold the baby again when we landed.
7. Flight Attendants Are Evil.
Have you noticed a theme here? Most people are pretty nice, as long as they don't make a living in the travel industry.
Sure, I travel a lot and have met many wonderful and professional flight attendants. The ones on this particular flight, however, were vicious and did their best to not only ignore me, but to make everybody's trip a living hell. When I asked for apple juice, I handed the flight attendant a sippy cup to pour it in. I thought I was being helpful. She handed the sippy cup back to me, empty, then she handed me a can of apple juice AND a cup filled with ice. I was holding an infant and my toddler's tray table was full of toys I'd brought on board to distract him.
"I don't need the cup with ice, thanks" I said as I tried to open the can of apple juice and fill the sippy cup while balancing the baby in my arms.
"You have to take it! I, DON'T. HAVE. A. PLACE. TO. PUT. IT." she barked. I looked at her and the beverage cart she was pushing (you know, the one where they keep the cups and the ice?) and smiled sweetly at her, "then I guess it'll have to wait until it's time for you to pick up the garbage! It'll be here waiting for you!"
At least I wasn't the guy sitting in row 22 who got a beverage cart rammed into his elbow. Ouch.
8. Dora, In Excelsis Diego
A portable DVD player loaded up with Diego DVDs will save you. Bring it out about an hour into the flight (after the excitement of being on a plane has worn off) and you're set. Oh, and buy a cheap one, because your toddler will keep inserting and removing the DVD and if you're going to worry about him breaking it, well that takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it?
9. Snacks. Snacks. And More Snacks.
Did I mention snacks? Because you should bring snacks. And bring the good stuff. This is not the time for tofu chips.
10. Deplaning. Or, Revenge is Sweet.
Fight the urge to make a mad dash for the exit. You will be much happier if you wait until everyone is gone. The kids can watch the bags being unloaded, everyone will wave at your "amazingly well-behaved" kids, and you will have time to pick up all the crap you needed to entertain the kids during the flight.
The flight attendants can't leave you on the plane. So they will suddenly become EXTREMELY helpful, and you will have six assistants helping you out of the gate. One will hold your toddler, the other will carry your bags, and the witch who had no room for her stupid cup with ice? She'll assemble your stroller for you AND buckle the baby in for you.
All in the name of getting the hell out of there.
So take your time, make them work, and congratulate yourself on having survived the journey.