You’ve all heard the horror stories from parents and non-parents alike. You’ve all heard someone mutter at one time or another “there was a baby crying the WHOLE time on my flight”, but I can guarantee you, the parents of that baby who cried the whole flight felt a LOT worse than you!
There is nothing worse than not being able to console your child, and it’s even worse when you’re stuck on a plane. While we can’t promise you that the next time you travel with your children it will be crisis free, we can give you some tips to help you avoid trouble.
I have travelled with my children quite a bit in the small time they’ve been around. My daughter will be 3 in September and my son just turned 1. My daughter has been back and forth to New York about six times, to Phoenix a couple times and on several road trips.
My son has been back and forth to New York twice, and also on several road trips. I’ve flown with just my daughter by myself once and with both children alone twice. And only once did we have a total meltdown of biblical proportions. All in all, I can’t complain too much about that, although at the time I would have given my left arm to get her to stop screaming (and the screaming lasted for THREE HOURS ...).
So how do you travel with your children to minimize meltdowns? Well as mentioned above, there is no guarantee your child won’t meltdown but there are a few tricks that I’ve learned that help quite a bit.
Getting through security is the first hurdle.
It can be difficult if you’re taking a car seat. My first suggestion is to let TSA help you! I have always had really great experiences with the TSA agents. They want to make the line go as smoothly as you do, so ask them for help if you need it. More than likely they’ll be happy to help.
Have everything that you need to take out in one pocket (iPhone, iPad, laptops, etc) and have all of the baby stuff in a baggie because digging around for the things you need to put in the bins can be hectic if they aren’t in one place.
Timing of flights is really important.
Up until the last flight we took, we always flew red eyes. Not the best for the parents, great for the kids (and let’s be honest, kids are the No. 1 priority)! They slept the whole flight and it was much easier to get them onto East Coast time once we arrived. But now that my daughter is older, red eyes don’t work as well so I try to plan it around at least one nap time to get some sleep time in. Just make sure your children don’t get too over tired because that can be a mess too!
It’s always so important to have plenty of activities for your kids.
Keeping those little hands and minds entertained is key! Shorter flights are obviously easier, but longer flights take some planning. Stickers can be a big hit, by the end of a flight I’m covered in stickers!
Books, and age appropriate toys (for my son I brought a lot of sensory toys and soft books and I used those toy chains and chained them to his car seat so he couldn’t toss them off) are important as well. Not everyone has an iPad or an iPhone, and thats totally ok! But if you do, they are a huge help! I loaded my iPad with my daughters favorite shows, movies, and games and she knows how to use it herself so I just handed it to her with some headphones and most of the flight she was totally entertained. Having entertainment is so important because keeping them from getting bored helps avoid tantrums!
Snacks are also incredibly important.
As we all know, planes don’t exactly offer any gourmet treats, at least ones that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I always brings my kids favorite treats! I make sure the snacks I bring are ones I know comfort them: cookies, applesauce, fruit, crackers, etc. I also always bring their sippy cups and fill them with water from a water fountain on the other side of security. When I was using bottles, I would fill the bottles with the appropriate amount of formula and fill them up on the other side as well.
And my number one rule is to remain patient!
As I mentioned, we only had one major meltdown (and I did not keep my head, which did not help the situation), but that’s not to say there were times my kids fussed and remaining patient was key. If Mommy isn’t flipping out, chances are the kids will follow suit fairly quickly.
You also must remain patient with other passengers or airline workers who may not be as understanding as you hope. Remember, they may not have children or had children a long time ago, so they don’t realize how hard it is to have a small child on a flight (or they expect you to stay home until your children aren’t children anymore and let me tell you, it is VERY hard for me to remain patient with those people!) so I try to ignore them, you’ll never have to see them again!
Travelling with your children doesn’t have to be the nightmare you’re picturing! I’ve actually had a lot of fun travelling with my kids because they see the fun in being on an airplane or driving in a car. As long as you’re prepared physically and mentally you’ll be totally fine!
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