When my daughter was ten months old, I took her to England to meet her great-grandmother and the rest of my family across the pond. Despite being excited for my little girl to meet her namesake, I was terrified of flying. As I walked to the gate with my girl strapped to my chest, I felt every passenger look at me. Those I passed probably breathed a sigh of relief, but the ones waiting by the same gate as us glared. I'm sure they were thinking that I was just going to be a a nuisance and they'd have to spend their trip trying to help a mom on a plane.
To my surprise, the opposite was true. My fellow passengers welcomed Alice with warm smiles, and a few even played with her so I could eat in peace. One couple in particular made our plane ride exceptionally better, by capturing my daughter's attention for over thirty minutes, and offering to hold her if I needed any assistance. Those passengers? Come on. That's the type of traveler you want to be, right?
Look, no one wants a baby to keep calm on a plane more than their mother. Heavy sighs, eye rolls, and snide remarks only make the mom on your plane feel like the worst person ever. Instead, try one of these seven tips to help her out and make her feel better about the entire situation. You don't have to ruin your plane ride to help out and, who knows, you may go viral for being a decent human being.
1. Don't Ignore Her When She Sits Down
It's amazing how far a smile can go, especially to a mom who's trying to carry a baby and luggage. Pretending she doesn't exist, or even acting unhappy when you see her and her child makes that mom feel about two inches tall. By smiling at them, especially if they're seated next to you, the mom will be immensely grateful to know that you're not a total jerk. Trust me, she's already nervous about the flight, and having your kindness is so nice.
2. Interact With The Kids If They Acknowledge You
You don't have to go out of your way, but if a child speaks to you or asks you if you're going to Indiana, too, it's nice to interact back with them. No one's asking you to babysit the kids or give up your Game Of Thrones viewing to talk to a three-year-old, but no one wants a grump sitting next to them either. The mom is going to feel ten times better knowing that you don't see her kid as a huge bother or inconvenience.
3. Offer Positive Words
So you're not a kid person, but you want to help out? Simply telling the mom that things will be OK can make her feel instantly better. By acknowledging that the baby is crying and letting her know it's going to be fine, you're winning tons of awards. Remind her that kids cry, she's doing the best she can, and that you recognize her efforts.
4. Ask If You Can Help
If you see a mom struggling and you want to help, just ask. She'll let you know if you can do anything and, if she continues to struggle after you offer, ask again. Most moms are terrified to ask for help or to inconvenience anyone, especially a stranger. I know I'm terrible about accepting help, especially if it's offered. Just be gentle and patient as she assesses the situation. Maybe she'll ask you to help her get a bottle out of the diaper bag or ask if you can fix her toddler's tangled headphones. All little things you're totally capable of doing and will seem huge to her.
5. Offer To Hold The Baby
If you're comfortable with babies and enjoy holding them, offering your arms is a sweet gesture. I got lucky on my flight and had an empty seat next to me for Alice to chill in, but some moms are struggling to balance their plate of food and a baby. By offering to hold the baby, even if she says no, you're letting her know that you see her struggling and would like to help.
6. Give Her More Room If You Can
If there are other seats empty and you know that she could use an empty seat near her to hold a baby or to put her things, move if you can. Again, you don't have to put yourself out, but if it's not a big deal for you to take a seat an aisle over, the gesture will mean so much to her.
7. Ask If They Need Help Getting Off The Plane
She's got her arms full and it's time to get off the plane. If you were unsure about helping her while in such a confined space, you can help by offering to assist her through security and baggage claim. Having more than one set of hands during security is huge, especially if one of the children is walking on their own, so the act is steeped in kindness.