Things to Do #17: Mommy & Me Matinée @ Potomac Yard Regal Cinema

Potomac Yard Regal Cinema: Mommy & me Matinée

Hours: Every other Tuesday (usually sometime after noon)

Location: 3575 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22305

Cost: $6, $5 with Regal Cinemas Card

Parking: Plenty!

The Theater

It isn’t the newest theater, but the screens are big, the sound is good, there is stadium seating, and it is a movie you can take a baby to! No need for a babysitter! They keep the theater a little lighter than usual so you can see your baby, but dark enough that you can breastfeed in the cover of darkness. The sound is a little lower than usual as well to accommodate baby’s sensitive ears.

Movies

To find out about the exact times and the movie that is playing, e-mail theatre1757@regalcinemas.com. This will add you to a listserv and you will receive e-mails about the bi-weekly movie for the Mommy & Me matinée.  They send an e-mail with the time, title of the movie, and a brief synopsis. There isn’t really any information about it on the website, and the only way to get in the know is to sign up via e-mail. I went to see The Martian and was really pleased to get to see a grown-up movie in an actual movie theater!

The Audience

The audience is moms AND dads with their babies! This means that there will inevitably be a crying baby at some point during your movie, but the good news is that means no one cares if YOUR baby fusses. All the moms and dads were really great about meeting their babies’ needs and keeping them from fussing too long, so I wasn’t distracted at all by the occasional cry. I did get a little panicky when Baby B started to fuss, I won’t lie, but I was able to settle him down quickly and realized that all of the other parents there were in the exact same boat.

What to Bring

You can bring your stroller. Parents park the strollers along the front near the handicap row and take the infant carriers with them. A few of us opt to sit closer so we can stay with our strollers, and some choose to come without the stroller to begin with. Most parents also bring a sling or some kind of baby carrier in case the baby needs to be walked around. Parents walk their babies while watching the movie in the aisles or in the back of the theater to rock them to sleep.

If you bring a diaper bag, they will search it on your way in. From what I could tell, they did not search every parent with a diaper bag, but I was asked to open my purse and diaper bag. I found this a little weird since no one else had to open up their purse and share the contents, but it wasn’t like I was carrying any contraband candy.

A few moms brought their Boppy with them, which I imagine would make breastfeeding a bit easier. I could barely handle all of the baby crap I had with me, so I don’t think I would bring my Boppy… but its an option!

Bottom Line

I LOVED this! I wish that they had more times and more movie options, but I will take what I can get. I would like if they had an evening showing too – it would be great if The Hubby and I could go with Baby B. Because of the timing, parents with day jobs aren’t able to take advantage of this unless they take leave or have off. Also, you need to get there a little early because the line gets pretty long. I got there early and still missed some of the previews after waiting in line and then getting some popcorn.

Overall though, I thought the price was great and I also enjoyed seeing other parents with their babies. I will DEFINITELY go again!

Just cause.
Just cause.

Things to Do #16: Busy Bees Indoor Playspace

Busy Bees

We’ve been here twice now! With the cold weather upon us, check out this indoor play space at Busy Bees.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Mon-Fri), 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Sat-Sun) unless they are having a private party. The Busy Bees Facebook page has updates about late openings/closings, fun events, and giveaways. UPDATE: The owner contacted me and let me know that private parties don’t interfere with normal operating hours on weekdays. On weekends it only delays openings by an hour. Otherwise, private parties are held after normal business hours.

Location: 6110 D Arlington Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

Cost: $15 per child over 1 years old, $12 for additional children (parents and babies under 1 are free) – in-and-out privileges all day

Parking

Busy Bees is located in a busy strip mall. Parking is plentiful, but the lot can get a little hectic.

The Rules

  1. Kids have to be under 48″
  2. Everyone has to wear socks
  3. Parents have to stay and supervise
  4. Food must stay outside of the “playscape”
  5. A waiver must be signed
  6. No cash – credit only!

Entry

When you first enter, there are two iPads attached to the wall where you can sign the waiver, if you didn’t do so at home. I strongly recommend completing sign up before you get there. I did not, and found that it wasn’t too fun to do so with a wiggly two-year-old excited to play. You can do so here.

Once you are registered, you give the front counter your child’s first and last name and they can look you up in the system. Whoever is with the child receives a matching armband (they write a code on both bands) so that when you leave they can check that the child is leaving with the right adult. The first time we went they did not do this, so I think this is a new safety precaution they added. Keep an eye on your child’s band or make sure it is on his/her wrist well. Our lovely C somehow lost her band and the Hubby had to convince them she was with him.

IMG_4701After you enter there is a shelf area to put shoes and bags. The first time we went they had some hooks on the wall as well, but this last time those were gone. The shelf space is not big enough for larger diaper bags, so those have to go on the very top. The shoe area is designated by the yellow tile. Outside of the yellow tile, they ask that you wear socks only. Within the yellow tile area are soft, round, seats and three hanging pod-like seats. Just outside of the yellow tile area there are counters and stools where parents of older kids can sit and watch, or the kids can take a break and have some snacks. They sell a variety of snacks, or you can bring your own.

The Equipment

IMG_4618The “playground” consists of a number of moving pieces and a two-story “playhouse.” The top deck has a netted room filled with latex balloons and a blower that has the balloons zooming around the room on one side and a clear, bounce-house like area on the other. The balloon room is loud and windy, but a blast. All of the kids in the room were running around having so much fun. Even shy C loved chasing after the balloons. The bounce-house room has a clear plastic floor that is like a huge bubble for kids to jump on. It leads to a slide that goes to another area of the playroom. Underneath the bubble is a sitting area. It appeared that most of the kiddos were delighted with this room, but C was not one of them. She, as mentioned in earlier posts, is pretty cautious about heights and gets nervous when there are holes in the ground or she can see the ground below her at a height. The first time we went she cried when I tried to get her to go in there. The second time she went with Hubby and she refused to play in there at first, but after warming up for two hours, she decided she wanted to try it out right before we left. She flopped onto it, but didn’t make it all the way to the slide.

IMG_4616

In the lower part of this playhouse, there is a soft playroom area for younger kids. It is best for crawlers or new walkers. They have soft cylinders and cubes, bumpy floor areas, and a mirror on the wall. There is a wall that contains smaller kids and lets new walkers cruise. I went with the Bestie the first time and her son, X, who was about 9 months at the time.

IMG_4682 IMG_4657

IMG_4650Moving pieces include a mini carousel composed of bean-shaped bugs(?). I’m not exactly sure what they are, but that is what they remind me of. There is also what looks like a hamster wheel for kids, and a soft seesaw/teeter-totter. C was not a huge fan of the hamster wheel – it moves on its own, so the child has to keep up with the wheel. It seemed like kids were excited about it until they actually got in it. The teeter-totter has some animal characters on it that kids can hold on to, and it goes up and down continuously. In general, C is a little scared by teeter-totters, but she liked this one more, probably because it was soft and more predictable than a traditional teeter-totter.

IMG_4707 IMG_4705

There is also a moving/tilting jungle gym with monkey bars, and a spinning (slowly) carousel of swinging balls. I do not know how else to describe it. C had fun running in between the soft pendulum-like structures, and some of the bigger kids enjoyed jumping on them and swinging around.

IMG_4642

Lastly, there is a slide that is brightly lit up and has a little tunnel running underneath it. C enjoyed sliding down it and crawling under it!

IMG_4643

For the Parents

There is coffee/tea for the parents and free wifi! Parents are allowed in the playspace, but not on the equipment. While I understand that the equipment probably cannot hold an adult’s weight, one of the things I love about the playground is going down the slide with C. Since C is also very cautious, it helps her to see me do something first, or for us to do it together the first time. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t go down the big, clear slide together.

Cleanliness

Of course, you want to know… how clean is it? They clean it every 3 hours using Dapple products. I found it to be overall pretty clean, and saw workers going through periodically and spot cleaning. The staff also keeps an eye out to ensure that people are following the rules (wearing socks, for example). UPDATE: They now clean it constantly rather than every three hours, which explains why I saw staff walking around and cleaning.

Bottom Line

It is a little pricey if you’re only planning to drop by for a short while, but definitely worth it if you are going to take advantage of the in-and-out privileges or if you plan to stay for a couple of hours. There are plenty of places to eat in the area, so I would recommend coming in the morning, breaking for lunch, and then coming back for a little while before nap time!

I would also say that if you have a smaller toddler, to keep an eye on him/her. The height limit is 48 inches, but 48 inches is a lot bigger than C’s 32 inches, so I worried about the bigger kids colliding with her. At one point, a kid pushed her because she wasn’t going fast enough for him, but in general I felt like parents were doing a good job of monitoring their kids and making sure everyone was safe.

I definitely plan to go there again when Baby B is older and crawling. I think it would be perfect for him to play in the soft play area while C runs around.

Things to Do #15: The Tot Gym, Charles Houston Recreation Center

UPDATE (9/10/16): Charles Houston has a new website filled with info about activities for tots. Check it out here!

Hello, Blog! It is has been a long time since I posted, but I have been to soooo many places this summer with C, and I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and catch up.

I’d also like to introduce Baby B, born August 11th (which also explains why I have been MIA).

Baby B - Just shy of 2 months
Baby B – Just shy of 2 months
Anyway, exactly a month before he was born, I went to the Charles Houston Recreation Center with C. Our plan was to meet a friend and check out the soft playroom there. I also wanted to scope out their pool. I ended up discovering something even better – the Tot Gym.

Charles Houston Recreation Center

Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Location: 901 Wythe St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Parking: Small, well-paved, parking lot. There were plenty of spots when I went there, but I imagine it could fill up pretty quickly. There is also limited street parking.

Cost: $5/$10 a day (Alexandria resident/non-resident), $4 for use of the soft room for 45 minutes

So as I said, we came to the center to use the soft playroom. Very little information can be found on the website, but I had found out a little more through another blog. When I got there the woman asked, “Are you here for the Tot Gym?” I assumed that was the same as the playroom, so I said yes and paid the fee. She directed me towards the main gym, which is when I realized that the “Tot Gym” and the soft playroom are not the same thing. I decided that the Tot Gym looked WAY more fun for C, so we headed in.

The Tot Gym

AWESOME! There, I will give you my bottom line first. Basically, they turn the gymnasium into Tot Heaven. We entered the gym and to the immediate right was a line of strollers and diaper bags against the bleachers, of which one row was out for sitting. We plopped down, removed shoes, and I sent her on her way.

There were two bounce houses designed for little ones. One was a little bigger with a “ladder” to climb up and then a slide on the inside of the house. The other was smaller and more appropriate for even tinier kids. Normally, I am a little hesitant about putting C in a bounce house, mainly because of all the bigger kids, but because everyone here was little like C, it was perfectly safe.

In the center of the gym, they laid out mats with tons of soft equipment – large building blocks and cylinders. Kids and their parents were building and knocking down structures.

Scattered throughout the gym were little scooters, kiddie cars, and balls. C especially loved riding around on the kiddie car. She met another little girl and they took turns riding and pushing each other – it was adorable.

At about 11:50, a woman came in the door and reminded us all that we had 10 minutes left. Parents and kids gathered their belongings and started to head out. I have to say… this was one of few times I had trouble getting C to leave.

Now… here is the really important part. On my way out, I asked the lady at the front desk, “How often do you host this?” She said that they used to have it only on weekdays, but because working parents wanted to take their kids, they started hosting it on Saturdays from 9 AM to 12 PM. When I got home, I tried to find the hours online, but couldn’t. There is virtually nothing online about this. I had to call the center to find out if it was still happening. It is!

Tot Gym Hours:

Monday – Wednesday, Saturday: 9 AM – 12 PM

Bottom Line: While I said it above, I’ll say it again – awesome! It was a lot of fun for both of us. And because I came across it by accident and it seems to be super “secret,” I think that makes it even more awesome. It was also a great place for C to meet and interact with other kids, and for me to chat with some other moms and dads.

Things to Do #14: Adventure Playground @ South Germantown Recreational Park

Finally reviewing a park outside of VA! The in-laws living in Maryland, so we thought we would give this lovely park a try last weekend!

Adventure Playground @ South Germantown Recreational Park

Location: 17920 Germantown Park Drive, Germantown, MD 20841

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Cost: FREE

Parking

Parking is plentiful. There is a large, paved parking lot.

Bathrooms

There is a bathroom building off to the side of the parking lot (a bit removed from the playground area), but I didn’t get a chance to check it out. People were going in and out of it, so I assume it was at the very least useable.

The Playground

When you first enter, there is a large sign that reviews the hours and rules of the park. There were spaces for flyers and more information, but they were empty of flyers and filled with some trash. To enter the playground, you walk over a short path. On the left and right there are large round disk swings – they look like a modernized tire swing. Before reaching the playground there is a large climbing wall, which is designed for bigger kids. C had some fun climbing on it with help, and the Hubby definitely enjoyed it.

Continuing past the climbing wall, there is a huge “castle” front that marks the start of the actual playground equipment. This alone makes the playground an exciting and fun place for any kid. C was super excited when she saw it. This part of the playground is designed more for bigger tots or kids, but C enjoyed a few of the slides and running around the general area. I don’t know what it is about sea serpents and playgrounds, but this playground had one too.

Castle Entry
Castle Entry

The Tot Lot

Adjacent to this much larger playground is a tot lot. The tot lot is lower to the ground, has “easier” slides, and tubes for crawling in. There is a ramp that leads up to the slides and several “bridges.” One of the bridges is the sloped kind that jiggles and bounces when you walk on it. The other is flat, but the slats are connected with metal plates that move back and forth. C was a little nervous about walking over this, but was also really curious. In the tot lot area, there are also large stone animals that kids were climbing on. They were pretty hard and smooth, so I don’t know how “safe” I would consider them for really little kids, but C didn’t even seem that interested in them. C’s major focus was a caterpillar at the bottom of one of the slides. I think that made her day.

Playground Construction/Equipment

The playground floor is mulch, with some random spots that had the rubberized flooring (like leading up to the ramp on the Tot Lot). The playground equipment itself is mostly wooden with plastic slides. I have generally been more attracted to taking C to playgrounds that aren’t made out of wood, but it turns out that C really likes the wooden structure because she can’t see the ground below (and how far away it is) as well. On other playgrounds we have been to that are made of coated metal and have holes that allow you to see the ground below, she has been more hesitant to go up on it by herself. But with the wooden slats, she was more confident.

One downside of the park was that there were not many trash cans in the area, and so the few that were there were overflowing. We saw an ice cream truck while we were there and lots of children with ice cream. While people were attempting to put the trash in the trash cans, there were not enough/they were not big enough for all of the trash that was being produced.

The only other concern I had was that on one of the wooden poles next to the blue tube there were a number of very large staples sticking out. Some of them were half in/half out and seemed pretty sharp. It looked as though someone had stapled a flyer or something to the poles at some point. The Hubby, being prepared as always, pulled out his pocket knife pliers and removed the staples, so they aren’t there anymore!

Bottom Line

Recommend! C had a lot of fun running around this huge space! We will definitely come back with the Grandparents when we visit again. We were only there for a short amount of time, so I hope to get back and explore some more!

Things to Do #13: Just Between Friends – Eastern Fairfax Consignment Sale

I wasn’t sure if I should post this as a “Things to Do” or a “Lessons Learned.” I feel like it kind of falls between the two. It could probably also go under “Every Mom is a Working Mom,” because consignment shopping is HARD WORK!

Just Between Friends – Eastern Fairfax

Location

This time it is located at the Embassy Suites hotel in Springfield, but it moves around each time.

Hours

Consignment and shopping hours vary depending on the event, and at this particular event there is one more chance to shop tomorrow (Sunday, May 3, 2015) from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, when some items will be 50% off.

Cost

FREEish? If you are a volunteer, consignor, new mom/expecting mom, or a “Hometown Hero” (firefighter, law enforcer, educator, military, nurse, etc.) you can get a free ticket. And the last day of the sale, Sunday, admission is free for everyone. Otherwise, Friday’s “prime time” shopping hours required a $10.00 ticket and Saturday’s post-hometown hero hours require a $5.00 ticket.

Consigning

I didn’t consign anything this time, but I may try to in the future. I just didn’t have time to get myself together in time to get all of C’s old clothes together and labeled. The consignment process for clothing requires creating white cardstock pricetags, safety-pinning or using a tagging gun to attach them to clothes, and hanging them on wire or plastic hangers. JBF provides guidelines for prices, accepted items, and and preparation.

The Sale

It probably looks a little different each time depending on the location, but at this particular one they have vendors outside of one of the hotel ballrooms. These vendors have raffles and offer some fun freebies. Jamberry Nails was there offering free manicures, a local dentist gve out a tooth fairy book, and a local photographer offered a raffle for a free maternity shoot.

Outside one of the ballroom doors there is the entry table where they check for tickets. They did not scan mine – just looked at them and let us in (the Hubby, C, and I went to the “New/Expecting Moms” sale on Friday at 6:30 PM). Just outside the ballroom they also had some of the larger items, which included bassinets, pack and plays, strollers, and swings. For larger items, they had a tag system. If you decided you wanted the item, you pulled half of a yellow claim tag off of the item and took it with you to check out. This, as it turns out, is an “okay” system, but certainly not perfect…

Inside the ballroom there were rows and rows of boys and girls clothing, tables of shoes, one rack of maternity clothes, and tables and tables of toys and books. There was PLENTY to choose from. The clothing, in general, was in good condition, but I was shocked at how high some people priced the clothing. For example, I found a hanger of 5 plain white onesies for $20. Seriously? $4.00 a onesie? I just bought 5 onesies for $10.00 from Marshall’s. No way would I buy USED onesies for that outrageous price. Overall, I was unwilling to pay the price requested for most of the clothing. I did find a ziplock of onesies that was $3.00 for 3 onesies and another of 19 pairs of socks (and two random unpaired socks) for $3.00. I picked up a few other items for C that I thought were reasonable: a pair of jeans, overalls, and shorts. They were good deals, but not as awesome as the baggies of onesies and socks.

Other than clothes, there were breastpumps, bouncers, linens, baby carriers, bathtubs, tons of toys and books, and pretty much any other baby/child related thing you could possibly imagine. We got some outlet protectors, a breastfeeding cover (I never got one with C – but figured it would be nice to have for Baby Boy Lee), and we grabbed a yellow claim tag off of a brand new water table. I say “grabbed a yellow claim tag,” because when we got to the checkout, it turned out that someone had picked up the actual water table and bought it, despite the fact that the tag had already been removed. I left happy with what we had purchased, but annoyed that someone had walked off with our table! They had us leave our contact information in case they were able to find it.

The next day we received a text letting us know that they had found one for us. We went back today and perused the goods some more before picking up the newly “found” table. There were a few new items out. It seems they restock as space becomes available. Anyway, while I was annoyed about the table being missing in the first place, I was happy that they found us one. C, as it turns out, was pretty happy with it too!

IMG_1932

Some Tips

On the crowds… we arrived shortly before 6:30 PM, but they let us in early. At that point there was hardly anyone there. I was worried about pushing C in a stroller, so we brough the Ergo baby with us so that we could maneuver better. We ended up not using it and the Hubby monitored C as she explored all of the toys and fun things around the room. However, by the time we left it was PACKED. I would definitely not recommend using a stroller (if bringing your tot) and I would suggest coming with someone else (again if bringing your tot), so one of you can shop, while the other minds the child.

I wouldn’t bother much with clothes. The toys and other items are more worth it.

Follow the sale on Facebook. They update info about the sale there, have links to purchase tickets, and announce prize winners!

Things to Do #12: Lee District Park – Chessie’s Big Backyard

I first took C to Chessie’s Big Backyard late summer/early fall, but I failed to take any pictures. I recently took her back on a beautiful Spring day, and captured a few pictures, so of course, a post!

Lee District Park – Chessie’s Big Backyard

Location: 6601 Telegraph Road, Franconia, Virginia

Cost: FREE

Parking

There is a mid-sized parking area right near the playground and spraypad (open after Memorial Day). Both times I came (in the afternoon), I was able to get parking pretty quickly, but I can imagine the closest parking lot getting filled pretty quickly on busy summer days.

The Playground

The majority of Chessie’s Big Backyard (Tiki Village and Treetop Haven) is designed for children ages 5-12. Although the larger playground area is clearly designed for bigger kids, there are a few activities and areas that are appropriate for tots. There is one little slide in particular on the big kids’ area that is perfect for a small tot. There is another section behind Treetop Haven that is for smaller children called “The Nautical Cove Area.” Apparently, at some point there were plans to add a sandbox and swings, but as of now there is a small area of slides, a pirate ship, and a little treehouse with stairs on one side and a slide on the other. At the far end of the tot lot there is a sea dragon-like creature that C enjoyed running underneath and around and a “sandcastle” that she was willing to climb inside. Most of the areas around the playground and under the equipment are covered with the spongy rubberized flooring.

Adjacent to the playground is a large pavillion and picnic area that looked like a good place to rest and/or eat a snack. Additionally, there is a really nice-looking splashpad that we haven’t visited yet – but as soon as it opens, I hope to check it out with C.

Lastly, and most importantly, there is a decent and fairly clean bathroom. It had a changing table next to the sink area, several stalls, and several sinks. Everything is sized for an adult, though, which I thought was a little odd given that there are so many young children that come to the park. But overall it is a bathroom I was willing to use!

Bottom Line

C enjoyed the playground and there was plenty to keep her busy. It was not my favorite for a couple of reasons: 1) No swings and 2) Lots of mosquitoes in the summer/fall time. When we went at the end of summer I got eaten alive because the playground is right next to a wooded area. While the woods make a nice background and provide some shade, they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you go in mosquito season, bring bug spray!

Lessons Learned #3: Special Travel Edition

This post is a little late, but here are some special “Lessons Learned” on traveling with a toddler.

Flying 

Flying with a baby/toddler is always challenging. This was the third time we flew with C. The first was a 15 hour flight to Korea when she was about eight months old. The second was a 1-2 hour flight to Toronto when she was thirteen months, and this was somewhere in between at 5 hours to LAX at the very mobile age of 19.5 months.

The hardest flight we took was… not the 15 hour flight, surprisingly. The hardest flight was the short flight. This was partially due to the tiny propeller plane we were on, partially to the time we were on the plane, and partially due to the time of day we were on the plane. Really short flights are actually really difficult, because there isn’t much opportunity for the kid to get up and move around.

Anyway, I learned some valuable lessons with all of these flights.

Lesson 1: Pack lots of snacks and activities as a carry on. Baby foods are exempt from the liquids/gels limit, so bring on the baby pouches! On one of our flights they had us open one to test it. Otherwise, no issues. For our most recent flight, I packed a LeSportSac diaper bag filled with books, play-dough, matchbox cars, and crayons and put the whole thing is a small wheeled carry on. This made going through the airport easier than carrying a bulky shoulder bag, but allowed me to take it out and shove it under the seat for easy access. I packed my own purse, all of the liquid items/baby food items, and my iPad mini in a small backpack. The Hubby carried a bulkier North Face backpack filled with diapers and wipes, which we used as the “diaper bag” for the entire trip. In general, diaper bags are “cuter,” but regular backpacks are way more practical. Secret Weapon: Pack a bag of candy that your tot will HANDS DOWN get excited about. I call it the “meltdown” bag. I packed three meltdown baggies of 10 M&Ms each and stashed them in the pockets of various bags. We only ended up using one the entire trip, but it VERY quickly turns around what could be an embarrassing situation. Rather than provide other passengers with earplugs, keep your kiddo happy! Traveling is stressful for adults – imagine how stressful it must be for someone who is 1/4 the size of everyone else in a loud and strange place she has never been!

Lesson 2: Get one of those cases or wheeled things for the carseat (if you are bringing it). We brought our carseat to Toronto and on this trip because we rented cars on both trips. The carseat is heavy and unwieldy and it is much easier to get it to/through the airport on wheels. Going to LAX we decided to gate check it, along with the stroller. However, we discovered that the Britax was TOO BIG to fit through the x-ray machines. They had to get someone to specially test it. For some reason it came back “positive” – for what, who knows? GSR? So they had to pat down the Hubby and test him and his clothes. We eventually made it to the plane, but on the way back we decided to check it with the regular luggage rather than gate check. Supposedly, it is “safer” for the carseat to gate check, but it was too much of a hassle to worry about getting it through TSA.

Lesson 3: Get a plane harness… or don’t. This basically turns the plane seat into a safer seat for any tot 22 pounds and up, rather than using the carseat on the plane. While I definitely think it was better than using a carseat, C wasn’t too much of a fan (I broke out the Meltdown Bag on the flight back when trying to get her to cooperate and be strapped in), and at this age I think I could have just held her during take off and landing. We bought her a seat for this trip because I was not about to have her sit on my pregnant self for 5 hours, and the more space the better. Anyway, the harness is lightweight and compact, so it is easy to pack. It is also super easy to set up. The major downside is just that it is EXPENSIVE (around $70.00).

C in the harness.
C in the harness.

Lesson 4: Regardless of whether you are flying or driving (we did a lot of driving throughout SoCal and Toronto), think about when you’ll let your tot release some energy. No one wants to sit all day, and I imagine it is especially uncomfortable with a diaper on. So whenever you get the chance, let your little one stretch his/her legs and explore. On both flights to and from Cali, I let C walk around the airport because I knew she would have to be seated for a substantial period of time.

Lesson 5: Get your child used to whatever you are going to use on the trip. For example, if you buy a fancy new umbrella stroller that is supposedly the most comfortable on the market, your tot is not going to sit in it if s/he has never sat in it before… even if you paid upwards of $250.00 for it. We made this mistake on our trip to Korea. We bought her a new stroller right before the trip and she had never used it before. She was used to being carried in the Ergo baby or sitting in her Britax B-Agile. For this trip, I made sure she had some time in the stroller prior to the trip so it wouldn’t be something new. AND, I tried to balance the amount of time I was asking her to be in the stroller with the amount of time I was letting her run around (see Lesson 4). Getting her used to the stroller was especially important because she had to sleep in it at naptime when we were out. We worked to stick to her schedule as much as possible, which meant nap time in the stroller! She did much better this go round in the stroller and took several naps in it on days we were out and about during naptime.