The Flight-Attendant Approach to Surviving Motherhood


    Portrait of a Female Flight Attendant on a Plane

    Have you been on an airplane?  If so, then you are familiar with the smiling, polite, put-together flight attendants who welcome you on board.  They help make your flight experience more enjoyable, and observing their approach to their job has taught me some lessons in parenting as well. Here are 5 tips for reducing turbulence on your journey through motherhood:

    1. SMILE

    Most flights begin and end with a smile from your flight attendants–even for those passengers who don’t deserve it! It doesn’t sound hard, but as moms who do it all 24/7, we often forget to stop and smile at the small victories in daily life. We are so busy throughout the day caring for babies, organizing schedules, dishes, laundry, etc., that sometimes we need a reminder to engage with another adult and SMILE. Even if it is just for a few minutes while your little one naps–call a friend; visit with neighbors; catch up with family; take a bath.  I am not instructing you to force a happy face, but do something that makes you smile.


    Part of a flight attendant’s job is looking pulled together.  I am so guilty of staying in PJs all day at home or simply throwing on leggings to go out and about with the baby. But, on those rare occasions (a few times a month) I have time to put on REAL clothes, I tend to feel so much better about myself that day.  Now, don’t rush and try to wear pre-pregnancy clothes and make yourself hate your closet.  I had to buy a few essentials to wear post-baby in my “new” size in order to achieve this goal of getting dressed (including some smaller maternity jeans, because, man, they are comfy and hold everything in!). And please remember, size is literally just a number. Don’t get caught up in that number; just focus on what makes you feel good.

    1.  SNACK TIME

    Even on a short flight, the attendants give out a small snack. The food and other amenities on flights have drastically changed over the years, but you still get a snack for free. I can’t tell you how many times I have completely forgot about feeding myself because there wasn’t enough time. We would not forget to feed our sons and daughters, so why do we often forget ourselves?  Mom Brain to blame!  Being hyper-focused on everyone else in the household, we tend to put ourselves last on the ever-growing totem pole.

    1.  MANNERS

    It seems like a simple thing, but everyone needs a reminder from time to time to use your manners. Children learn through our behavior and modeling manners is key!  It will make you feel much better when you see your children picking up these habits. Flight attendants–even in tense situations dealing with rude passengers–stick with their manners. Remind yourself to do this when dealing with judgmental strangers during your child’s meltdown in Target. Tell those staring at you to “Have a nice day!” They clearly do not have children if they can’t empathize with what you’re going through, so just ignore the urge to snap.


    During the safety spiel before takeoff, the flight attendants always say to, “Apply your oxygen mask BEFORE helping those around you.” Let this sink in!! You are no good to those who depend on you if you do not take measures to help yourself first.  So, apply that theoretical oxygen mask, mama!  Do not be afraid to take some ME time, ask for help, or pour yourself a nice big glass of wine at the end of the day, because you deserve it.



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    Nicole is a San Francisco native who grew up in the Noe Valley neighborhood before majoring in Sociology at San Jose State University. In her third year she realized her love of children as her true calling and earned a Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate. She taught Preschool along the Peninsula for 10 years before a rare medical condition left her unable to continue her career. Now a single mom to the apple of her eye, Joey James keeps her busy. When Nicole is not playing, teaching and snuggling with Joey James she enjoys stroller walks around the Bay Area, music, San Francisco Giants Baseball and ice cubes floating in her Chardonnay.


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