Let’s face it…flying with children can be daunting at worst, and exhausting at best. It requires much preparation and attention, but can provide you with many opportunities for lasting memories and fun! A little bit of organization and confidence can make the whole process a bit simpler. Here are a few tips for flying with kids that will keep the kiddos busy, and you sane!
1. Make simple busy bags.
Or look for/host a local busy bag swap! Have you heard about busy bags? They are simply small activities for kids that are kept in bags and that can be easily completed by the child independently. They are small and portable, and often strengthen skills such as fine motor, color matching, counting, etc. Keep a few of these in your carry-on and pull them out when the kids start to get antsy. Each one will buy you a bit of time and will keep your kids happily occupied. Check your local community for busy bag swaps , or host one of your own and make a night of it with your friends!
2. Have something for your child to suck on (or drink) for takeoff.
Young children can be very bothered by the pressure in their ears during takeoff and landing. A great way to alleviate the discomfort for them is to give them something to suck on, or drink, during these times. If you have a small baby, feeding them or providing a pacifier can help, if your children are older, chewing gum or sucking on a lollipop can be helpful.
3. Help your child understand what to expect.
Read books or watch videos of airport processes, such as security, and explain how they will work. Look at pictures of the inside of an airplane or videos of a plane taking off and landing. These experiences can be scary for kids if they are unsure of what to expect. Role play and pretend play are incredibly powerful tools when preparing for a new experience. Play pilot and co-pilot, or flight attendant and passenger, to help your child communicate any fears or hesitations that they might have about the trip.
4. Have a ‘flight schedule’.
Having a ‘flight schedule’ that breaks the flight down into 20 minute sections (for example) will help keep you feeling calm and prepared when facing the daunting task ahead. As an example, for a 2 hour flight, assume the first hour will consist of takeoff, 20 minutes to have a snack and a drink/look at a book, and 20 minutes of technology (watch a show, listen to music, etc). Start the second hour by getting up to take a bathroom break and a quick refresher, 20 minutes of busy bags, 20 minutes of toys and games, and prepare for landing. That doesn’t sound too bad! While this is helpful, keep in mind that anything can happen, be flexible. (Quick tip: if you bring any new toys or activities, wrapping them in paper will buy you a few more minutes of fun!)
5. Let it go.
Elsa was onto something here. There might be moments where your child’s behavior is less than perfect, you might receive unwanted looks (or even comments) from other passengers. Truth is, flying with kids can be rough, but it’s absolutely worth it. You are creating memories and making teachable moments. Try to brush off the negative moments of the experience, and enjoy the time with your little one(s). And if all else fails, ask for help, the flight attendants will be your best friend!