teach your kid to pee. teach your kid to travel.

You may be thinking what the heck do those two statements have to do with each other?  A lot.

But first, let me start at the beginning. The day that you leave the hospital with that sweet, squawking bundle of joy.  Under the tutelage of the nurses, you feel like you have mastered the art of the burrito swaddle and you are able to feed this tiny person in some manner; breast, bottle, both.  You are yearning for your own pillow and the comforts of your home but wait, then you just get to leave. That's right you leave the hospital with little more than mesh undies and a pamphlet with your next doctor's appointment on it. No more nurses. No more on-demand help.  You and your partner and your new bitty baby (or in my case boys who are so big they look like three-month-olds) ride off into the sunset or sunrise, but let's be honest you will be seeing both in the coming months.

And you know what happens next, you survive.  You figure out your own schedule and dare I say it after the elusive fourth trimester you are thriving.  Master of the naptime. Master of the playground rules and tummy time. Master of feedings. You are the Master of your Mommy domain.  Yes, it is not always pretty or clean or even sane but you are doing it.

Here's the kicker in that statement, YOU are doing it. You are responsible for the planning and organizing, not your kid. Not yet. Then enter the toddler phase and boom! your kiddo has opinions and ideas and a willful, stubborn disposition.  Now you must flip gears and become a teacher, not the doer. You cannot expect your kids to figure out life on their own, right? They need a guide and that guide, my friend is you, Mama.

And you know what else you must teach your lovely child? How to use a toilet.  You may be thinking to yourself, but wait I have already taught them how to sit up, walk, sleep (most of the time), colors and animal sounds and now I must teach this small person how to pee and poop in a receptacle not affixed to their bodies? Yes, yes you do.  Ahhh the perils of potty training. You will never sweat so much as you do when you are potty training a three-year-old. Every time you leave the house in those first weeks you feel like you have a ticking time bomb in a car seat. You see and do things that you never thought you would do.  You watch as your naked child runs around the house as you wait for any pause, any shudder to announce the imminent arrival of a bowel movement. You unabashedly bring a plastic potty to dinner parties and to the playground and heck even designate a twist top Tupperware as a "car potty" for those highway pull off emergencies. It truly is one of the most heroic moments of motherhood.  But just like the swaddle and shooshing and naptime this too will become a memory and diapers will become a thing of the past.

After all of these gyrations of swaddling and first words and yes, even toilet training you still have one more big hurdle to tackle. You should teach them how to navigate another basic of life in 2018, how to travel.  The art of navigating an airplane is a learned skill. Just like with teaching your child how to use a potty you must teach them how to use an airplane. That self-contained fuselage of terror can become much less terrifying if more parents approach it with the same amount of gusto that they put into potty training or even learning how to put a baby to bed.  It's not easy and it's not always pretty but being prepared and better yet, preparing your kid for the adventure of flying makes it well much more of an adventure rather than a chore. Bring along that arsenal of snacks but don't forget to also explain an indoor voice. Yes! To all of the screens and shows on an airplane. My boys know that all home rules go out the window with screen time and they effectively turn into little boy zombies but along with that, they know that they still must use their manners when a flight attendant comes by to ask what they would like to drink. Please and thank you still goes a long way at 30,000 feet.    

And why should you teach your children to travel? Why go through the stress of the checked baggage and security and the hurry up and wait that goes along with airline travel? Because you get to show your kids new places and new experiences.  It truly is an astounding occurrence to see a new place or heck even a place you've been to before through the eyes of your children.

A couple of years ago my husband and I took our two children, then 5 and almost 2 on an epic adventure for 6 weeks all the way to New Zealand and Australia. We started our journey in Boston and flew to Los Angeles when after the mandatory dinner at In and Out burger and a romp at the beach to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean, we boarded a plane that would be in the air for a mere 12 hours and 45 minutes. That's right over half a day (I take those last 45 minutes very seriously) in an airplane! We slept. We read. We sang. We watched movies and shows and tried to play those silly games on the screen attached to your seat. We ate a lot of snacks. We napped. And we got bored. Very bored. But then we walked the aisles some more and danced out our sillies and you know what? We made it. Now I am not suggesting your first flight be the gauntlet of flying across the world but what I am saying is travel. Take those trips. Get on the airplane with your kids. Do not be afraid. Do not fear the judgment of other passengers. Let them judge. You worry about your own kids, your own family.  

Get out there and see the world. Or another state. Go explore. You've taught your kid so much thus far. Do not miss out on the opportunity to teach them about traveling. Give them the joy of exploration. Yes, you will sweat and there may be tears involved sometimes but just remember, you potty trained your kid so gosh darn it you can handle anything. Dealing with a kid on an airplane will always pale in comparison to the look of terror on your face when your kid tells you that they have to go poop in the middle aisle of the grocery store. Because we all know that grocery store bathrooms are located at the perimeter and no amount of Supermarket Sweep tactics will get you there in time.  

You taught your kid to pee in the potty, now teach them to travel. You will not regret it.

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