There comes a time in every parent’s life when they realize they have to schlep their child or children onto a flight. Years of pent-up aggression towards crying babies and seat-kicking toddlers has done nothing to prepare you for this task. You’ve seen those parents in flight aisles pacing back and forth with their kids, begging them to take a nap, or even simply sitting back and allowing their child to cause chaos among the other passengers. And now, you’re joining their ranks.
Of course, you don’t want to be that way—not only do you want a safe, semi-quiet flight for your own sanity, but also for those around you. Accomplishing this isn’t too hard with a bit of effort and determination (and, let’s face it, a willing child!).
Tip 1) Bring some technology or other travel-friendly toys for kiddo to play with
Try to have an ipad or tablet of some sort with games that don’t require wifi—or even download a few books or novels for any older children you may be traveling with. When in the air, you don’t need to worry so much about limiting screen time. Traveling is already stressful and monotonous enough, and letting your kids have some tech-fueled entertainment is a big enough treat to keep them occupied for at least a few hours.
Of course, make sure to either mute the audio when applicable or require that your child wear headphones set at an appropriate setting—no one else on board is interested in the latest cartoons or his/her new high score.
It also doesn’t hurt to include other travel-friendly toys such as coloring books or puzzles which can easily be done on the seat’s tray table. Just make sure to stay within your family’s space and to do a quick scan for any debris when exiting the plane.
2) Tune in from Time –to-Time
Another biggie on the list is to not ignore your child. Remember, while your child is young, bored, and ready to run around, other passengers on the flight may not be too sympathetic. Try to resist the temptation to look out the window or blast the volume of your music if your child starts acting up. Also, make sure to check in on them from time to time—are they kicking or jamming their foot into their neighbor’s seat? Are they hungry or thirsty? Maybe they need a toilet break or a quick walk up and down the aisle.
3) When in Doubt…
Last, but not least, is packing a good old-fashioned bribe. Not only will it distract your child, it will also serve as motivation to keep themselves in line. Try to pack candies or snacks that are clean rather than messy or sticky. You don’t want the tray table, armrests, or neighbors getting covered in sugary residue.
Instead, bring simple snacks that aren’t as likely to result in sticky hands or crumbs. Some favorite examples include fruit snacks or granola bars.
Remember, any flight can only last so long and eventually, both you and your kids will be home-free!