Spirit Airlines: A Mom’s Review

If you are traveling with small kids and an equally small budget you’ve probably considered the budget airlines (Frontier, Spirit, etc.) and possibly you have been scared off by the overwhelming number of negative reviews.

I almost was.

But then I looked at my bank account and said oh well, it’s Spirit or nothing.

To prepare myself I started reading the negative reviews on various sites, so I would know what I was in for. As I was reading I noticed a common theme… 90% of the negative reviews were the CUSTOMER’s fault. See I had already read Spirit’s website pretty thoroughly and knew their rules (and that’s just to consider booking with them) and so when I saw people complain about the “hidden” or “surprise” charges I thought…umm no I just saw that in big letters on their site. They don’t lie to you, they are really up front that you are basically paying for the gas to fly the plane and a seat to sit on, anything else you need is on you…or them for a fee.

I felt a little better as I found very few complaints that weren’t preventable on the customer’s part except for delays and let’s be honest delays happen on all airlines. I booked earlier in the day to try and minimize the chance of them but other than that it was out of my control.

My honest review was that Spirit was pretty good and I will definitely fly them again!

I measured my personal item, paid for one checked bag WHEN I bought my ticket, weighed it before the airport and confirmed my carseats and strollers were free. I booked so far in advance, in person at the airport that I was assigned seats together for free. I pre printed our boarding passes and checked in online to avoid fees and of course packed water bottles (empty through security and filled at a fountain) and snacks so I didn’t need to buy them.

I had zero dollars in hidden fees, both flights were EARLY not late, the staff were all very polite and I was pleasantly surprised that unlike many bigger airlines they had changing tables in the onboard bathrooms :).

My gate checked stroller was treated very gently (I could see them unloading from my window!) and my belongs all returned in the same condition I checked them.

I don’t know what more I could ask from an airline, especially one i’m paying so much less than the others for.

If you fly Spirit you MUST do your homework, read and follow their rules but if you do there is no reason you can’t have a nice flight!

[For tips on traveling with children read here.}

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T.R.A.V.E.L. with Young Kids

Whats the secret to traveling with young kids?

 

Lots of wine, just kidding I actually don’t really drink but it seemed fitting 🙂

For me it all boils down to T.R.A.V.E.L.

Tricks, ask friends, family & the internet for their favorite travel tricks and choose the ones that suite your child & destination. I think my favorite travel trick for almost all age kids is candy! I pack a bag of dumdums and m&ms, and use them as bribes, rewards and to help ears pop on the plane 🙂

Research, not everyone loves research but it really does make for smoother travel. I watched parents turned away from a flight for arriving too late for check in, waiting in line for a ride their child could not ride and begging their children to stop crying when theirs ears began to hurt because she’d forgotten to bring anything to help them (I passed out suckers on this one but not everyone will have a helpful stranger). All of these little joy suckers were preventable by research.

Adaptablity, Be prepared to change plans! I love research, i’m a planner by nature but I am very willing to adapt the plan if it’s not working for us or a better option comes along! We got to do everything we wanted in Epcot by lunch thanks to short lines early so we adapted by heading to Hollywood Studios which I had done some research on as a backup anyway and I whipped out my phone to double check a few things as we rode the bus too. Some really special moments happened there that made the day and were never in the original plan!

Vigor, Ok this isn’t fully in your control if you have health issues but be as physically ready as possible! Keep everyone well rested, well fed and have necessities like water, sunscreen and bandaids readily available. It makes a big difference in your ability to enjoy the goings on of travel!

Expectations, I can’t stress enough how important it is to manage your expectations when you are with small children! If you expect them to keep up with an adult pace, or to have no little meltdowns or issues you are setting everyone up for failure and disappointment! We had at least 1 teary episode per day (usually less than 2 minutes but still tears!) over everything from a scary loud toilet to chicken that tasted wrong. I consider this 100% success. Having less than 30 minutes of tears total per day was my goal for the 1.5 & 4 year olds and we came in well under so I was ecstatic!

Luck, It would be intellectually dishonest to tell myself there isn’t luck involved! Even with the best planning, attitude, kids, etc. there is always an element of luck! We had no flight delays, pleasant weather, no lost luggage…in other words alot went our way! Any of these could have thrown a wrench in a lovely vacation and made it less pleasant but thankfully they didn’t for us… this tim

 

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My Children Train Themselves

They do, my son is 3.5 and he basically trained himself to sleep through the night and use the potty.

He must have because I didn’t.

My children both walked at 9 months old, my son is a teacher’s dream, well-behaved, polite and eager. My 10 month old daughter will happily ride on my hip quietly for hours.

You can imagine I get alot of compliments on my children, like everywhere. I’m not joking I don’t think a week has gone by in 3.5 years where I have not gotten a compliment from strangers about my children and that’s great because they really are wonderful. Here is a little secret though, I’m not some super mom.

I’m not saying that in the way overachiever mom’s sometimes do with the pleased blush like, “Oh, I just threw together those 87 bakery perfect, healthy organic cupcakes, it was nothing, I’m not super woman!”

I’m saying it like, I am really not an especially great mom. I mean I think I’m a good mom, and I LOVE my children but i’m not breaking ground here. I don’t read to them as much as I could, I’ll throw on a tv show when my son gets a little whiny while i’m trying to cook dinner, they aren’t in classes to teach them stuff.

I usually look well rested and happy, and so do my kids because I just do what comes naturally, I let my kids decide when they are ready for things.

When you have early walkers people are always asking what you did you get them that way….umm genetics I guess?

When your family seems well rested and happy despite newborns or babies at home people ask. You know what we do, we sleep with our baby until they are old enough they can sleep on their own.

Jidge slept with us until 3, now he sleeps in his bed but his bed is still in our room. Lexi sleeps in our bed, when she’s ready they will move into a room together and sleep in beds.

That’s it, no tricks.

When my son potty trained himself he was ready. I say he trained himself because all I did was force the issue a little. I could tell he was ready and he wanted to (he kept talking about it and trying) BUT he was scared of the toilet so we stayed home naked for 3 days. I literally wasn’t even aware he finally started going until he called me to help him wipe. There was no transition period either, no accident phase. I mean it, he had one accident in the car the first week because he told us but we couldn’t get home fast enough. That’s it. I kept taking undies and changes of clothes and pull ups places expecting the constant accidents I see other parents dealing with but it never happened, he even gets up in the middle of the night to go pee.

No tricks.

Parents sometimes wonder why parenting seems so hard.

Maybe we make it that way.

Maybe we are the ones who think we should train our kids to do things that they will naturally progress to if left to their own devices.

Parenting is exhausting (because tiny people energy > big people energy) but it doesn’t have to hard or frustrating.

It can be a joy. My husband and I have laughed more at our son than any comedian I’ve ever watched and our daughter’s smile relieves more stress than the best massage. It will probably always be tiring but at least while they are little we can enjoy them more if we stop trying to train them to be something they aren’t yet: independent. Let it happen on its own because…it will, you can’t stop it and once they are you’ll miss this time.

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*Disclaimer, of course there comes a time and age when training kids to do things becomes necessary but i’m still in the littles stage so i’m talking about the littles stage 🙂

Birth is Birth, ditch all the labels.

*Now when your friend who is pregnant with their first child asks you for in depth stories of pregnancy because they want to know you go all in my friend, you tell them all you can because it may make them feel somewhat more prepared. *

But.

For the rest of us, birth is birth.

We don’t need: vbac, non-medicated, water birth, ceasarean, vaginal, home birth or worst of all “natural” (whatever that’s supposed to mean for the other unnatural? births). But really, we don’t.

These are just more ways to say “I’m a Better Mother Than You” and we don’t need that stuff.

I hate when women say “Yeah, but i’m just so amazed by moms who have unmedicated births they are so strong!”

Really? Because my non-medicated 2nd birth was a whole lot shorter, easier and less painful than one I got an epidural for. Yes, less painful. Easier. Medication was not some easy way out. My “medicated” birth (because I had an epidural) was far harder and more painful and more exhausting. (Oh and both my kids where posterior facing, should I get a trophy for back labor?)

And can I just say that women who are willing to be CUT OPEN to bring their children safely into the world are pretty freaking brave to me! Just cause I haven’t done it doesn’t mean I can’t guess that it’s freaking painful, they are doing that for the safety of their child (typically, let’s not talk about the convenience Cs I know happen because those women are a whole nother breed).

And why does where you give birth to a baby have any bearing? There are women who give birth in interesting places (you know like taxis or the curb of a New York City street) THOSE women can tell us because that’s interesting but most of the time…no one cares.

Stop labeling stuff that doesn’t need labeled! Birth is bringing a baby out of your body and into the world. All that other stuff is not important.

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“It Couldn’t Happen to Me.”

“I’m a good parent.”

“I always check.”

“I’d never forget.”

“I wouldn’t…”

These things are easy to say. We don’t want to envision a scenario where we could be responsible for our child’s death so we try to reason with reality.

But the reality is you could, you might, and it only takes one time. You could forget your child in a car. It could happen to you. I know there are cases when horrible scum of humans have intentionally left children but normally it is just an accident. A terrible, life wrecking, soul destroying accident.

I am terrified of something like that, it makes me check my car constantly.

But that is not enough.

I have started using the left shoe method (read about it here) and I have to say that it is so simple but so important.

I know it is intended mainly for dads or moms who are out of routine and want to make sure nothing could happen but it should be intended for every parent with a young child in the car.  I want devices that will help prevent these tragic deaths just like everyone else but this is important now and there is a solution available now.

Every time you get in the car with your baby place your left shoe in the back with them. It will help ensure you never have to experience the pain and loss and guilt that so many good parents in our country have.

When I arrived at the mall to meet a girlfriend for shopping I had not planned to take my daughter but she was fussing and I didn’t want poor dad to have a rough evening so in the car she went. I put my shoe back there knowing that the feeling of playing my own music (no 3 year old in the backseat!) and heading somewhere to shop for myself for fun was so out of routine that it would put me out of “mommy” mode and it alleviated the fear I could get there and walk off in a rush forgetting the sleeping angel in my seat.

If we all stop pretending it could never happen to us and instead take steps to prevent it maybe it never would have to happen again.

This year alone there have already been 16 deaths in the U.S., 7 would have certainly been prevented using this method.

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An Ounce of Prevention

She looked like a nice lady, strolling through the kids section of Barnes & Noble with what I assumed was her grandchild’s little backpack full of toys on her back. But she lingered a bit too long, lurking near shelves and displays to watch children and something just felt off. I kept my eyes discreetly on her as my husband and I sat watching my son at the train table from nearby chairs. She moved our direction and I realized finally that she was alone, she had been here for 10 minutes with no kid in sight. She drifted to a shelf just behind us and pretended to look at kids books but her eyes never skimmed the pages, they hovered for a moment on my little princess, snuggling in a sling on my hip and settled on the handsome 3 year old playing trains. My child. Not hers. She stayed focused on him, momentarily lost enough she didn’t pretend to look at the books even, minutes passed and still she stared. Her odd behavior had now drawn the attention of my equally perceptive husband. Sensing potential for danger he stood and pretended to glance at a storytime paper, repositioning himself so that she was no longer behind him and forcing her to make eye contact. I also moved so that I was now able to see her eye to eye, faced with two attentive parents she suddenly moved away.

At the end of the shelves a parked stroller with a sweet toddler sat unattended, she leaned down and began talking to the girl which caught the attention of the mother, only two feet away looking at the display of new books. She quickly dropped the book and placed her hands on the stroller, asking the woman an indistinguishable question before backing away, clearly uneasy as well. When she turned back to see my husband and I also still keeping an eye on her she swiftly made her way downstairs and out of the store without stopping.

Was the woman dangerous? My gut told me possibly, was there a temptation inside her to have a child at a cost I might never understand? I believe so. Hopefully she will never act on her desires even if an opportunity presents itself but it was clear to me that it was something she may consider. (The fact that myself, my husband and another mom all independently reached the conclusion she way not be safe speaks to the fact her behavior just wasn’t right).

There is no such thing as too vigilant with your child. No one who has ever had a child taken thought it would happen to them (most abductions are not strangers though).  Never feel like its “judging” someone if your intuition says something is wrong trust it, be extra cautious, make your presence known. Too many parents live on eggshells now, afraid to be politically incorrect or stereotype someone but you shouldn’t silence your inner voice when it tells you someone is not safe or something is not right.

The Impracticality of Pumping

I will be a stay at home mom in a few days but for the first 3+ years of my son’s life (2 of which he nursed) and 6 months of my daughter’s I have been a working mom. A working mom who breastfeeds exclusively. Which of course means pumping. Pumping is time consuming, inconvenient and at times awkward.

I am so blessed because I have the most ideal pumping situation possible yet even then it is a total hassle. Let me explain. I work at a school located in a church which means down the hall from the education wing is a nursery which is deserted during the week and has a private nursing curtain with rocking chairs and natural light filtering in from the windows. It’s pretty perfect. I am a Kindergarten teacher which means my specials are half an hour though so  the one half hour break I have each day to lesson plan is spent racing down there, setting up my pump, cleaning up, labeling and storing milk in a cooler in the staff freezer. If I’m really lucky I have time to go to the bathroom! The other time of day I pump is on my lunch break which of course means scarfing my food down and racing down the hall.

It also means my planning needs to occur before and after school on my “own” time. It means sometimes I am making the long walk from the nursery to the staff room with milk bags in my hands when I awkwardly encounter students or adults. It means occasionally I leak through my shirt. It means I get really uncomfortable if my body doesn’t want to wait for my pumping break. It means my poor husband has had to drive 30 minutes each way to bring the pump I forgot at home on more than one occasion. It means remembering to take milk bags to school with my little pranciss everyday.

So why do it?

I know breastmilk is better for them but I also know formula is pretty close so that’s not a good enough reason for me. I know it’s free but my time is worth something to so that’s not why (although let me tell you with our insurance providing the pump and milk bags for kid #2 it has literally been FREE not a dime ya’ll!).

I do it because the bonding experience I get while nursing my sweet little angels in the silence of 2am, or under a cover at the zoo for that matter, is so amazing.  There are tons of ways to bond with your kids so if you can’t nurse (or I guess don’t want to) then take heart but if you are a fellow mother like me who just truly enjoys nursing your kids, including those bleary eyed night feedings woohoo sister it’s something special ain’t it!

So yes pumping is an impractical pain but, for me, it is more than worth it!

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