A lot of parents are a bit afraid to fly with their kids. I’m sure we’ve all read a scathing article or two on some equally scathing blog about how annoying it is to fly near children. They cry, they kick the seat in front of them, they don’t respect personal space boundaries.
But I’m here to tell you that the majority of people you find on any give jumbo jet aren’t there looking for an article to submit to buzzed or Huffpo.
Fortunately, because my kids would give them plenty to write about.
“And then, as we began our final descent, that annoying little two-year-old began to cry, making loud complaints about her ears. I was appalled to observe that though the mother attempted to show the child how to yawn and swallow in an effort to alleviate the pain, she did not in fact, require the spawn to shut up and leave the rest of us passengers in peace”
Actually, it was quite the opposite experience. As passengers exited the plane, the ones sitting near us – who were quite frankly, the only ones who could here – were sympathetic and asked if Hadassah was alright.
Most people are nice, and most kids will behave better than you think they will.
The first leg of our flight to Argentina started at 11:44 A.M. (why do they time flights down to the odd minute when they know they won’t take off at exactly the right time?), and it ended twenty hours later.
That’s rough on anybody, but it’s especially rough on kids.
The first time I flew with my kids, it was just a short, two hour flight, the kids were littler, and more unruly, but all in all, it was a good experience – except for the very end where Hadassah had started to get a cold, which made her ears pop painfully the entire decent on our way home. Queue the inconsolable crying.
This last time – the flight to Argentina – thankfully, Gabe was along, and while it frankly didn’t help a lot on the flights themselves since we were seated sperately – me with the kids, and Gabe alone – it sure made our layovers a lot easier!
We, frankly, don’t go crazy trying to make things easy for the kids – they do need to learn how to deal with life – but there are a few basic things that we’ve found makes flying with them SO much easier.
- Find a quiet place for your kids to play at the airport. We’ve never been lucky enough to layover at a terminal where there was a children’s playground, but we have been fortunate to be able to find relatively deserted places for them to play. A gate that was closed for repairs (the seating was just fine, but since no-one was flying out of it, no one was there), a deserted downstairs gate for smaller planes. With no one else there, it was easy to let the kids play games and run around the seats without disturbing anyone.
- Run around with them at the airport. If nothing else, just walk – explore your terminal! Encourage them to drain their energy for a smoother flight once you finally board. This is where it’s really handy to have two parents along for the ride – one to take care of the luggage, and one to walk or play with the kids.
- Bring a stroller – even if you think you don’t need one. This may not apply to short flights, but longer ones? BRING IT! We went back and forth on whether to bring one – after all, your youngest is three years old! But it was the best move we made. Airlines will take it from you at the gate, and give it back as you debark the plane.
- On one of our flights, I carried Hadassah, sleeping, from her seat on the plane, put her in the stroller, and boarded another plane – all without her waking up! There is no way I would have been able to carry my backpack and her from plane to plane with the long walk through the international screen ing rigamarole, and for sure, Gabe who was already carrying Garrett, would have had to add the bag that was in the stroller to his load.
Another benefit – as soon as officials see your stroller, they automatically wave you into the priority line, so you skip a lot of waiting though customs and such. I’m sure that they let all families with small children go through the priority line, but when you have a stroller, they see you right away.
On the flight itself
- Bring snacks. Long flights feed you, but short flights may not, and regardless, they may not feed your kids things they like, or that are friendly to allergies they may have. And of course, they may not feed them as often as they want. For our long flights, I like to pack trail mix in snack-size bags, small packages of crackers or cookies, jerky, and apple sauce packets (like go-go squeeze). Yes, you can get them through TSA security! (just don’t take cans of tuna :P)
I hate to be the mom who shuts her kids up with food, but frankly, on a flights, it works.
- Bring coloring books, or small toys that will keep your kids busy. I keep thinking that some sort of Polly Picket set would be perfect for Hadassah, but I have yet to find one – I think they’ve changed since I was a girl, and I’m probably looking for the wrong thing, so for now, we have a Hello Kitty coloring book, and a few picture books to read. Garrett is my screen junkie, and I brought along the Amazon Kindle for him to play games one – not something he normally gets to do, so he was particularly happy during parts of the flight.
- Read to them! The kindle also allowed me to bring more books to read to them, since I an obviously fit far more digital books than I can paper books. I did bring one paper book – The House of Sixty Fathers, and Garrett is pretty enamored with it. So fun!
- Don’t be shy about getting up. A few extra trips to the bathroom does wonders to break up the boredom of a flight. Your kids will be very thankful!
Moms, I know the thought of taking your kids on a flight is stressful, but really, flying is a step up from driving – after all, you aren’t busy driving or looking up directions, which means, you can focus 100% on the kids.
For that reason, in my opinion, flying with kids is even easier than driving – so don’t be afraid to fly with your kids!