scorecardWe took our 3 kids under 5 on a plane. It's hard, but the memories are forever.
  1. Home
  2. life
  3. news
  4. We took our 3 kids under 5 on a plane. It's hard, but the memories are forever.

We took our 3 kids under 5 on a plane. It's hard, but the memories are forever.

Jenna Jonaitis   

We took our 3 kids under 5 on a plane. It's hard, but the memories are forever.
LifeThelife3 min read
  • I'm a mom of three kids ranging from 5-years-old to 1-year-old.
  • We took them on a trip to visit their grandparents, and it reminded me why I travel with kids.

My husband lugged the car seats while I carried the baby and backpacks and pushed two kids in the stroller toward the boarding gate.

"You've got your hands full!" a stranger shouted.

"Literally," I replied.

Were we crazy? Would the trip be worth the time, money, and energy? As I stood at Gate A3, I questioned myself and our entire trip.

We took my kids to visit their grandparents

On the three-hour flight, my husband and I toggled a lap child between us. Our baby girl was almost 1 year old. As if I were Mary Poppins, I pulled out snack after snack from different pockets of my coat and carry-on bag — cereal, sandwiches, fruit. She fussed a bit but also grinned at the passengers around us. The boys oohed and ahhed as the plane took off, watching the earth shrink beneath them. They glanced at us in amazement as we felt the rumble of the landing.

During the cooler months, my parents live in a double-wide trailer in Florida. Finally, after the pandemic, pregnancies, and postpartum recoveries, we had the chance to go see them.

For the next six days, we took golf cart rides to look for alligators. We walked through a fairy garden filled with hidden gnomes and angels. We played bocce ball and endless games of Go Fish, something I don't often have — or make — time for. We saw a snake try to eat a frog. At the souvenir shop, the boys smashed pennies into keepsakes and steered the wheel on a $0.25 tractor ride. I felt the joy of my own childhood memories dance inside of me.

We drove to Venice Beach to show the kids the ocean. My sons built sandcastles and washed them away with buckets of salt water from the Gulf. We gathered seashells together for the first time, admiring each one for its color and design. When I told my oldest that we'd bring the shells home to Michigan, he regretted throwing some of them back in the water.

"No problem," I said, "Let's go find more!"

The entire day was ours for the taking — nothing else on the agenda.

When we returned to the house, I stacked scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough on cones, and we sat on the back patio. The ice cream dripped from our noses to our chins as geckos skipped nearby.

In the evening, we wandered to the pool to splash as a family, the sun setting beside us. The image of my two-year-old jumping in the pool, knees pointing to the sky, shouting, "Cowabunga!" is forever ingrained in my memory.

The memories outweighed the challenges

The trip certainly had challenges: whiny moments, unforeseen allergies, and a general lack of sleep. The boys coughed and sneezed so often that they didn't get much rest, and neither did we. Some mornings I needed two cups of coffee instead of my standard one. We drove too far for a day hike. The sun beat down on us right at lunchtime. The kids were hot, sweaty, and hungry. While boarding the plane for our return, I thought I wouldn't make it up the stairs, my body breaking under the weight of heavy backpacks and the baby.

But the rich, vivid memories far exceeded the difficult moments. The trip seemed to slow time. The new places and experiences together brought me out of the haze of our daily routine and into the present. My eyes stayed wide under my sunglasses – taking in my kids' soft faces, their sweet curiosity, and my giant, deepening love for them.

People always say, "You'll miss these days." I want to be able to say: "But I didn't miss them while they were happening."

Yes, it took a lot of work to go on the trip and it wasn't perfect, but I'd travel with three kids under five again in a heartbeat. In fact, our next adventure is already booked.




Advertisement