If any of you have flown anywhere with kids this summer, you are probably all too familiar with the challenges that come with the experience. From corralling antsy children while trying to check your bags to standing in long security lines to calming temper tantrums while mid-air, you might feel you’ve run a marathon by the time you arrive at your destination.
Kendra, whose husband is in the military, flies several times a year around the country with her two young boys. “As a veteran flyer, I am usually totally prepared with toys, books and bags ready to go,” she said. “But I can’t always be prepared for the tantrum that might come out of nowhere when my over-tired 2-year-old finally melts down. Then it’s all I can do to maintain my sanity while trying to calm him and ignore the angry stares of my fellow passengers. By the time we arrive, sometimes I’m so exhausted I just want to go home.”
Julie Melnick, another mother of a 2-year-old, experienced similar frustration while flying with her child. When she became overwhelmed, she asked the airline for assistance, but they told her it was her responsibility to handle everything. That’s when Julie came up with a brilliant idea: Why not match nannies with families flying with young children to alleviate some of the stress?
Melnick’s idea transformed into Nanny in the Clouds, a business that launched in November, 2011. For a $10 initial fee, parents of young children can browse the website and find a nanny on their same flight. From there, it is up to the parents and nanny to work out the rest of the details, including the pay. The nanny can assist with everything, including curbside check-in and security, as well as entertaining the children before, during and after the flight. The business became an instant success, earning a spot as one of the 100 Brilliant Companies of 2012 by entrepreneur.com.
Some folks have criticized the business, arguing that if a parent can’t handle their own child on a two-hour flight, they shouldn’t fly at all. “What has it come to, that we now have to have nannies when flying?” one critic lashed out. But parents of young children say the business is a dream come true.
“It’s not as if we want to just check out and go sit in first class with a cocktail in our hand,” one mother of three said. “We just want to try to maintain a little sanity by the end of our flight so we can enjoy our destination.”
Though I haven’t flown often with young children, I remember a particularly harrowing flight to Chicago years ago with my newborn daughter. As she began to wail a half-hour into the flight, I became riddled with anxiety and tried not to notice as irritated passengers shot glares my way. With nowhere to escape, I simply made the best of the flight, but I was so frazzled by the time I arrived, I vowed not to fly for the next few years. Had I known about Nanny in the Clouds, I might have had a few less gray hairs by the end of the day.
Parents, would you ever take advantage of a service such as Nanny in the Clouds? Do you think it’s a silly idea or a brilliant one? And do you have a flying-with-kids horror story of your own to share? We’d love to hear from you!