Can you be a flight attendant with kids or a young family?

Flight Attendant with a Family: 5 Things You Need to Know

So, you want to be a flight attendant, but you also have a family? What’s the deal?

Firstly, you’re not alone! Many flight attendants balance their career with raising children. It’s true, travel, jet lag, and the nights away from home don’t make being a flight attendant the easiest career for young families. But it can be done. However, there are some things you need to know first.

In this blog post, we will discuss the challenges of being a flight attendant with kids and offer some tips for making it work.

This post is written from the personal experiences of myself and other flight attendant moms, but if you’re a dad considering the flight attendant career — don’t stop reading! There are a growing number of male flight attendants, and there are plenty of flight attendant dads too!

Not all flight attendant jobs are equal!

If you want work as a flight attendant with a family, you need to choose your airline carefully. This is a career with a massive variation in working patterns. At some short-haul airlines, the longest trip is 12 hours, and overnight stays are only for unforeseen circumstances. Other roles — like my time working on private jets — are honestly quite incompatible with young kids. Frequently I would be away for 21+ days at a time.

Some airlines offer more flexible schedules than others. For example, some airlines offer flight attendants the option to bid for trips, which allows you to select the flights that work best for your schedule. Other airlines have less flexible schedules, which might mean working irregular hours or being away from home for long periods of time.

It’s important to match the individual airlines lifestyle with your personal family situation when selecting an airline.

  • If you have young children, you might want to choose a short-haul airline, or one that operates a mixed flexible schedule so that you can be home more often.
  • If you have older children who can more easily take care of themselves, you might be able to handle an airline with longer international trips.

Last-minute childcare is a must!

Childcare is an issue for any working parent, but for flight attendant moms the main issue really revolves around last-minute changes, rather than simply working out fixed childcare arrangements.

Typically, requiring supportive grandparents, or another parent with flexible working patterns, one of the biggest challenges of being a flight attendant with kids is the last-minute childcare hunt. When you’re on call, you never know when your flight might be scheduled — or for how long you’ll be away. This can make it difficult to find someone to watch your children at the last minute.

Equally, even outside defined standby months, these last-minute changes can happen on any given day at work. Late aircraft, broken planes, thunderstorms? They can all result in not being home for the night.

For this reason, most flight attendant moms have two or more backup plans in place. As an example, you might have a relative or friend who can watch your children or pick them up from school on short notice, alongside your regular child minder.

You might also want to consider using a childcare service that offers drop-in care. That way, you don’t have to find someone to watch your kids at the last minute every time you’re called for a flight.

Flight attendant family on holiday

Supportive spouses help hugely

Dating flight attendant’s isn’t easy. Another challenge of being a flight attendant with kids, is having a supportive spouse. Since you’ll be away from home often, it’s important to have a partner who is willing to take on extra responsibilities when you’re gone.

If you don’t have full support for your new career, resentment can build quickly, and it can be difficult to make your life as a flight attendant balance with family life.

Top tips

It’s critical to set realistic expectations beforehand.

It’s likely the current allocation of household chores will change significantly if you are away from home 3-4 nights a week. Similarly, big family events will occasionally be missed, and it’s likely you’ll be around for less family time at weekends. These things aren’t often dealbreakers, but it’s important your partner knows what to expect beforehand.

An extra job doesn’t always mean extra income!

Just because you’re a flight attendant doesn’t mean that your spouse will be able to be home with the kids all the time. You’ll still need to find childcare for when your partner is working or away on business trips — or simply busy! Childcare costs can mount up, so adapting the household budget is crucial. Often aviation is a career where the additional benefits — like the travel or the free flights — outweigh the monetary reward.

Support goes both ways

Many flight attendant moms I’ve worked with comment on the initial period when they first began working. While embarking on this new career demands support from your partner, it’s also important to remember that they might have apprehensions too.

If you’ve previously always done the school run, or always taken care of the kid’s laundry etc, make sure you take the time to ensure your partner knows exactly what is required from them beforehand. They might not have dealt with the same responsibilities you have, and without your support can feel like they are being ”thrown in at the deep end”.

You need to take time for yourself

Being a flight attendant with kids can be a lot of work. Between taking care of your children and this busy career, it’s essential to find time for yourself. If you don’t, you might start to feel burned out.

Life as a flight attendant can be a great way to achieve this work-life balance. How many other careers allow you to escape from the house and kids, take a long bath and watch Netflix with a glass of wine?

However, this imagined zen like balance isn’t always so easy to achieve and needs conscious work. Frequently, flight attendants with busy home lives can find themselves burning the candle at both ends, working hard at home and not resting properly on trips.

  • As naturally social, outgoing, people-pleasers, flight attendants frequently meet to go and make the most of every layover.
  • There will be pressure from both colleagues and FOMO, to meet, socialise, and “see the world” — and this can be costly, in more ways than one!
  • Not wanting to miss out can turn 24-hour layovers into one exhausting box ticking experience
  • After a busy few days at home, remember it’s OK to say no to meeting with your fellow crew, take some time for yourself to rest, watch Netflix and order room service!

Whatever you do, make sure that you’re taking time for yourself so that you can recharge and avoid burnout.

Taking time for yourself as a flight attendant downroute

There’s always time

If you want to be a flight attendant with kids, remember that time is on your side. There’s no mandatory retirement age, and, becoming a flight attendant is a popular career choice later in life.

Remember this when reading advice on social media or cabin crew forums about the best airlines to work for! Everybody’s experience is different. You need to choose an airline that offers a schedule that works for your family — and that might vary hugely depending on what stage in life you are at.

Equally, if you are in the middle of starting a family, becoming a flight attendant at this time might not be right for you. While this career offers flexibility in many ways, in others — such as medical requirements — it can be very rigid. Flight attendants can’t work through any part of their pregnancy.

Things to consider..

Long haul vs Short haul?
With a similar pay structure to pilots, long-haul flight attendants normally earn more money. But, for aspiring flight attendants with younger kids, mounting childcare costs associated with more nights away from home might erase any benefits of earning more.

International flag carrier or smaller regional airline?
Many mainline, or flag carrier airlines, are seen as exceptionally desirable to work for. Yet, entering these giant, seniority-based organisations often means that for the first few years you could quite literally be based anywhere.

For flight attendants with children in school or college, dragging your family across the country isn’t going to cut it. In contrast, a less glamorous local carrier or regional airline might offer the quick commute and smaller base that fits in with your family’s lifestyle.

Summary

If you have fears that becoming a flight attendant is incompatible with having a family — don’t be disheartened! Many flight attendants make their flying career work alongside having children. So if you’re ready to take on the challenge, my advice would be to go for it!

In fact, being a flight attendant mom can be the best job in the world. It offers great travel opportunities, time for yourself away from being mom — and, you get to see your kids during the daytime when 9-5 parents might be at work.

However, it is not an easy job by any means. You need to be prepared for long hours, difficult customers, and last-minute changes. It is a challenge. But remember, there are plenty of other moms out there who have made this career work – so you can too!

Conclusion: Being a flight attendant with kids is possible, but it takes some planning and effort. It also involves serious conversations with your family beforehand. Despite this, it can be the best job in the world!

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Alissa
Alissa

Flyingbynumber’s Resident Senior Flight Attendant — Alissa

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