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7 surprising ways to stay sane on flights with your child(ren)
(and maybe even enjoy it too)
We’ve all been there. It’s the holidays or grandma’s birthday, or a sister’s wedding and you’re making the trip to see the family. Everything’s rainbows and unicorns until reality hits. You sit in your little seat with your not-so-little toddler on your lap, twisting and wriggling for a six hour flight.
You hope the sleep fairy comes to cast her spell, quick. You pray that little prince or princess cranky-poo doesn’t show up. For hours. Gulp. Parenting, let alone flying with children, is not for wimps. Here are seven surprising ways to stay sane and maybe even enjoy your flight and your kids too.
PET THE SEEING EYE DOG
It won’t be perfect
Don’t try to plan for everything, that’s just exhausting. I once had everything planned for the first flight I ever made with my infant daughter, even making sure we reserved the bulkhead seats––the holy grail for new parents with toddlers because of all the extra room. Right after my husband and I sat down, the stewardess said they needed my husband’s seat for a blind man with a seeing eye dog. My husband ended up sitting ten rows behind me. I was alone for most of the four hour flight.
Roll with it. Make friends with the blind man sitting next to you and pet the seeing eye dog. Laugh.
Back up, Back up
Along with an extra change of clothes for the kids go ahead and pop in an extra set for yourself, for a couple reasons. The first is obvious––babies sitting on your lap can and will have accidents that can and will get all over you. If you don’t need an emergency change, then a quick costume change after a transcontinental flight might just make you feel human again.
It’s tricky to know how to keep toddlers distracted for the duration of a long flight. Instead of letting them run up and down the aisles, do yourself a favor and make a stop at The Dollar Store before your trip. Buy a bunch of Post-it notes and get some measuring cups and spoons or whatever looks good. Kids will have fun sticking the Post-its everywhere. This kind of quiet and harmless fun can keep kids entertained for a long time. Coloring books and crayons still work too.
But leave it in your checked baggage
I’m all about travel fashion and a big fan of looking good on a flight. But give yourself a break by being practical. Dress for comfort and ease. That means slip-on shoes, only a few pieces of jewelry and making sure you pack every that needs to be checked to avoid going through security multiple times. Save yourself airport drama. Have as few carry-on items as possible and travel as light as possible to make the long hauls through airports and security checks as hassle-free as possible. Have the kids carry their things to help you out.
IF IT’S YOUR FIRST RODEO
Learn from it
Note what works and what doesn’t. Keep a travel journal handy to write about lessons learned and what to bring or not bring next time.
Get your portable battery charger powered up and ready to go for long flights. Lots of domestic flights don’t have phone chargers, so be prepared. Juice up on layovers.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
Down the aisle
If you have a toddler you’ll be walking the aisles. Be sure to stop and smell the roses with other toddlers and families. Striking up conversations and letting kids hang out together can really help time fly.
That means you, parents
If possible, switch up kid duty between each parent. Spot each other so no one parent is totally burned out at the end of the flight. Or, divide and conquer then switch kids midway to keep from overwhelm and burn out.
Enjoy the flight!