Much like childbirth, flying with kids sounds straight forward in theory, but it’s not until you’re soaring above the clouds with a screaming baby and a tantrum-chucking toddler that you realise it’s no picnic.
One of the most stressful things about flying with children is worrying about the death stares that other passengers give you when your child’s tears and screams are unleashed.
You can’t worry too much about that; if they wanted a deadly quiet flight then they should have coughed up for business class. Remember you have every right to be there and so do your children.
This is not to say that your children should run riot, they still need to remember their manners and be respectful of others just as they would on the ground.
You too have a role to play and that’s making sure you and your children are prepared and that you’re relaxed and ready for whatever happens.
Here’s 7 tips and tricks to get through a plane journey with kids
1. Get organised before you are seated
Before you sit down and get ready for take-off, get everything you might need first and put it in the seat pocket in front of you or under the seat. The seat-belt sign doesn’t always go off as soon as you’re in the air and there’s nothing worse than a forgotten bottle, dummy or electronic device!
2. Tell your children what to expect
Talk to your children about traveling what it’s like on a plane, explain there’s lots of waiting in queues and times when they have to be extremely well behaved, like at immigration checkpoints. Show them some movies or read books about flying and try make traveling something exciting, but also be a little realistic.
3. Be smart with seating arrangements
Make sure you’ve booked seats to ensure your little one can’t escape without crawling over or under you first. Usually the back of the plane is more child-friendly and it’s also closer to the loos and the hostesses which are handy.
Tip: If you’re flying with a baby on a long haul flight then it’s worth booking a bassinet for them because it will give you a bit of a break and they’ll love being able to see all the action around them.
4. Make sleep a priority
Sadly not for you but your children, if you can get them to sleep on you do it. Bring a pillow, blanket and do whatever it takes to get them to nap because it will give your patience level a chance to reboot! Keep to your routine and it’ll be easier, eg dress them in nightwear and read them a book before trying to get them to sleep.
5. Don’t be scared to ask for help
Hostesses are fabulous at distracting kids and know all sorts of tricks that can help you so use them if you’re at your wits end. Most of them love a baby and if you’re traveling solo might be a big help to you.
6. Have the basics covered
The main reasons kids misbehave on planes is tiredness, hunger and boredom. Makes sure you have these bases covered by packing heaps of non-sugary snacks and plenty of new entertainment options such as books, games or cards. Try pre-making some of these healthy travel snacks to bring onboard with you (just make sure you check if you’re allowed to bring them on the plane).
Hint: Every few hours give your children a new bag of goodies to unwrap; it will give them something to look forward to and can be used to bribe them for better behaviour!
7. Break the rules
I don’t mean aviation-wise but parenting rules such as no more than two hours of screen time a day and no treats before fruit or vegetables. Let them watch movie marathons, give them some snacks and use the time you have together to play games you wouldn’t usually have time for.
Most of all enjoy your trip.