By Aakanksha Bhargava
Being a mother comes with a lot of responsibilities, add to that being a full-fledged entrepreneur handling one of the most erratic and unorganised service businesses in the country and you can imagine the intensity of work, time, serious commitment and mental presence required to be both a mother and an entrepreneur.
Relocations being an exciting industry often gives one the opportunity to move around the world, explore new service processes and bring in new industry knowledge from around the world. Not just this, I am an ardent traveller who loves to take time out from my business schedule to enjoy, explore and catch the vibes of various places. At the start of my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with a severe cervix issue and had to undergo a mid-pregnancy surgery with a prognosis of being on complete bed-rest without even sitting up to work for the rest of my pregnancy! This situation led me to being extra cautious with my baby, Samaira.
When Samaira was born on August 18, 2018, I knew I had to get back to work and soon travel for work since I had booked myself for a conference in Goa. However, the reality of actually travelling when she was just four months old slowly set in. It was a daunting experience, not just because you are travelling with a baby but also because you can never truly be prepared for what would actually happen.
After 36 flights, 18 trips and six countries, there have been countless experiences, reactions, precautions and hacks which have helped Samaira and I enjoy all those trips in such a short span of time.
Hands down, one of the most crucial tips out there is planning your flights keeping your baby’s sleep schedule in mind. When you are first travelling with toddlers, it important for them to sleep through the journey to avoid being cranky.
It’s important to always keep your baby’s comfort toy/food/item with you. Whenever we were travelling, the two things which have accompanied us all those places were her chicco stroller and her feeding pillow. Ever since the time she was just a day old, she has been accustomed to her feeding pillow and hence always found comfort in being wrapped with it. Carrying this along with their favourite toys help them stay engrossed at the hotel/places you visit. Toys also facilitate a play environment the child is used to.
One of the biggest agitators that can make you stress more is the absence of a comfortable stroller. Having a comfortable stroller with ample space for you to place things is essential. A good stroller helps you walk with your baby with ease. Not only will you be stress-free, but also have all your important baby stuff placed at one place for those short/long flights.
I feel there is a lot of stigma attached to breastfeeding in public. However, if there is one thing which is essential for a child then it is being breastfed. Not only is breastfeed/ breast milk important for child growth, it also helps soothe and calm the baby on long flights. If your toddler is older, you could choose to carry his/her favourite fruit/food on the go. Having a well-fed/hydrated baby helps them to be happy during flights.
A lot of new parents feel they need to design/plan a new routine for the child to feel comfortable during the flight and while travelling. However, it actually has to be the opposite. I remember my doctor telling me during a follow-up that a child is as good as a grown-up and should be treated and taught likewise. Hence, with Samaira, I have always maintained her daily routine during travels. This so far has helped me even during our trip to the US last month. It’s also necessary to carry your baby’s towel, soaps and other utilities to avoid making them feel foreign in a new setup.
Parenthood is a very messy job. If you have a toddler then you know what I am talking about. Travelling with a baby can turn into a disaster specially if you are not carrying all the right things with you. This doesn’t mean that you go on a paranoia and carry six to seven sets of everything you might need. However, pack smart. At the beginning, it becomes very difficult to judge how much would be enough, but one good place to start is by understanding and learning from your child’s pattern. And then add two to four sets from the usual utility to be safe during travels.
This means that cleaning and changing diapers just before boarding the flight is essential to save yourself from those smelly/wet situations while on the flight. While travelling, it’s important to be cautious and change diapers as wet diapers on long haul flights can make the baby cranky and sore.
While travelling is one big challenge, staying with a child outside your city/and country can end up being a disaster if you don’t book hotel rooms keeping your baby in mind. It’s important to feel free while moving around, especially if you have a toddler who can crawl and walk. Small spaces and pulled-up furniture setting in hotel rooms could be problematic for your child. Hence, always opt for spacious rooms with child-friendly facilities.
After all these tours and flights, Samaira is not just my soul but my partner in every endeavour. We may not find success at every destination but I have promised to make the journey worth it, always.
(The writer is CEO and President PMR.)