"Please don’t underestimate the kindness of giving a struggling mother a sweet smile," she said.
"Please don’t underestimate the kindness of giving a struggling mother a sweet smile," she said.

Everyone gets annoyed by crying kids on planes or in public settings but you know who hates it more? The mothers who are worried about their children and getting judged in the process.

Photographer Muzi Sufi decided to open up about travelling with her children - Lay and Samar - and dealing with the judgmental stares that she has to put up with along the way.

View this post on Instagram

( Part 1.) Over the last few years I was always messaged about how I travel with Lay and take her everywhere. Honestly, most of my replies were always something along the lines of how it’s a state of mind and everyone can do it, and that generations before us have always dealt with big families all by themselves. There are a few other things though that have generally made travelling with Lay (or Samar) easy apart from my confident mindset: for starters, they were good babies. I’ve seen it with a lot of moms and their kids, sometimes the kids just hate travelling. Maybe it’s the break in routine, maybe it’s a promise to ruin their moms holiday haha who knows, but they get sick or cranky or just make the holiday a little bit worse than it could have otherwise been with a well behaved baby/child. Can I just ask something of everyone though... please don’t underestimate the kindness of giving a struggling mother a sweet smile. The reactions of people around her can make or break her. Trust me, no one wants a crying child to shut up more than the mother, but what makes it all the more difficult is the judgemental stares and fidgeting of people around a mom and her crying baby. The minute you see this, or rather feel it, that’s when you get flustered. You start losing control not knowing how to calm your child in the quickest possible way, and in turn, you convince yourself you actually in fact cannot do this again and have failed to be a mom who can travel and maintain her sanity. That’s it - all a domino effect because of a judgemental stare or a muttered-under-your-breath-but-loud-enough-to-be-heard comment. #travellingwithkids

A post shared by Muzi Sufi (@muzisufi) on

"I’ve seen it with a lot of moms and their kids, sometimes the kids just hate travelling. Maybe it’s the break in routine... but they get sick or cranky or just make the holiday a little bit worse than it could have otherwise been with a well behaved baby/child," she wrote,

"Can I just ask something of everyone though... please don’t underestimate the kindness of giving a struggling mother a sweet smile. The reactions of people around her can make or break her."

"Trust me, no one wants a crying child to shut up more than the mother, but what makes it all the more difficult is the judgmental stares and fidgeting of people around a mom and her crying baby. The minute you see this, or rather feel it, that’s when you get flustered."

She added, "You start losing control not knowing how to calm your child in the quickest possible way, and in turn, you convince yourself you actually in fact cannot do this again and have failed to be a mom who can travel and maintain her sanity. That’s it - all a domino effect because of a judgmental stare or a muttered-under-your-breath-but-loud-enough-to-be-heard comment."

Read: 12 Pakistani travel bloggers who'll inspire you to plan a new adventure

The photographer went on to reveal one of her own experiences of being judged and shamed while struggling herself.

View this post on Instagram

(Part 2. )This first happened to me when Lay was 1 month old and I was flying from Heathrow to Cairo, and I didn’t know how to shut my stroller and place it in the security belt. Sounds so stupid but it wasnt shutting, and I could hear the people in the super long security line start to pass remarks about “isn’t this something one learns when you buy a damn stroller.” I was crying looking at the security guy saying it’s not shutting I don’t know what to do, I was actually so so flustered (esp cuz this security guy was so unamused), but then the kindest guy came running out of line, pushed my stroller shut (with one button 🙄) and said “oh we’ve had like 3 of these strollers, they’re so complicated to shut, they really need to start making them easier to close :)”. Andddd just like that I snapped out of my “I-can’t-do-this” mode. Sometimes it takes nothing but a few kind words to build back someone’s confidence, so collectively we need to remember to be nice about it, especially when you can see how distraught the mom or parents are. I’m blessed that I’ve found it very easy to travel everywhere with Lay, and also with Samar. My babies have been very good for the most part, probably because they have been accustomed to airplanes from the very beginning, and also because I never let my fears of vacationing with kids get in the way of my lust for travel. I made a colossal effort to not be scared of the possibility of my kid having a meltdown, of low cost carriers with uncomfortable seats, of late nights, of sitting for hours with a child on my lap... if travel is your drug and you have kids, you need to eliminate these little fears and tell yourself, it’s a really short life and a beautiful world, so let’s not let the little things get in the way of seeing everything and enjoying what you love. 🌍 (There’s a part 3 wait...) #travellingwithkids

A post shared by Muzi Sufi (@muzisufi) on

"This first happened to me when Lay was 1 month old and I was flying from Heathrow to Cairo, and I didn’t know how to shut my stroller and place it in the security belt... I could hear the people in the super long security line start to pass remarks about 'isn’t this something one learns when you buy a damn stroller.' I was crying... I was actually so so flustered, but then the kindest guy came running out of line, pushed my stroller shut and said, “oh we’ve had like 3 of these strollers, they’re so complicated to shut, they really need to start making them easier to close :)”. And just like that I snapped out of my 'I-can’t-do-this' mode."

"Sometimes it takes nothing but a few kind words to build back someone’s confidence, so collectively we need to remember to be nice about it, especially when you can see how distraught the mom or parents are."

Muzi had an important note for all those mothers who wish to travel but are worried about doing so with children.

"If travel is your drug and you have kids, you need to eliminate these little fears and tell yourself, it’s a really short life and a beautiful world, so let’s not let the little things get in the way of seeing everything and enjoying what you love."

She also spoke about how it's all fun and games with one child but adding another to the mix is a game-changer.

"Let me be absolutely clear about one thing - travelling with 2 kids (or more) is exhausting. I got hit in the face with this realisation in the gorgeous city of Budapest, where an intense heatwave clashed with my toddlers tantrums. And whereas usually I could cater to or discipline my child how I see fit, I just didn’t have the time because of my 5 month old. Kids are kids, and obviously they’re allowed down days or occasional outbursts, but I feel it’s important to not let this be the norm," she wrote.

View this post on Instagram

Part 3 | So it’s all fun and games with one child if your confidence is in check and you have a relatively well behaved baby! Add another one to the mix and oh my god - game changer. Let me be absolutely clear about one thing - travelling with 2 kids (or more) *is* exhausting. I got hit in the face with this realisation in the gorgeous city of Budapest, where an intense heatwave clashed with my toddlers tantrums. And whereas usually I could cater to or discipline my child how I see fit, I just didn’t have the time because of my 5 month old. Kids are kids, and obviously they’re allowed down days or occasional outbursts, but I feel it’s important to not let this be the norm. You have to improvise, try diff tactics to kinda find the right balance in your family. Everyone has diff patience levels so maybe some women endure more or less tantrums than me, but the point is no body wants their kid to reach a code-red. I don’t really have a solution and that’s perfectly fine haha. Nothing always works but some things work sometimes so it’s worth trying. Please don’t be a mom who doesn’t try to solve the problem when your child is howling. Maybe the only thing worse than being judged for a crying kid is when a mom lets her child cry and punishes the people around her by being indifferent. In these stressful situations it’s imperative to remember it’s not anyone’s fault that your child is losing it, not even yours, but you’re the only one who can atleast try to resolve it ♥️. So yeah you have to relearn everything, it’s amazing and exhilarating and so tiring as well. Me and Lay fought a lot on our trip 😂 but we also loved a lot too. Basically, there’s no rule book and nothing that works for everyone, you kind of just have to chip at diff solutions and see where it takes you. ♥️ I’m not pretending to be an expert but I get asked a lot how I do it, so here it was. Lots of love, laughs and some fights hehe xxxx #travellingwithkids #momoftwo

A post shared by Muzi Sufi (@muzisufi) on

She admitted that she doesn't really have a solution and that's perfectly fine.

"Nothing always works but some things work sometimes so it’s worth trying. Please don’t be a mom who doesn’t try to solve the problem when your child is howling. Maybe the only thing worse than being judged for a crying kid is when a mom lets her child cry and punishes the people around her by being indifferent. In these stressful situations it’s imperative to remember it’s not anyone’s fault that your child is losing it, not even yours, but you’re the only one who can at least try to resolve it."

"You have to relearn everything, it’s amazing and exhilarating and so tiring as well. Me and Lay fought a lot on our trip but we also loved a lot too. Basically, there’s no rule book and nothing that works for everyone, you kind of just have to chip at different solutions and see where it takes you."

Email