In a few weeks, we’re going on a family vacation that involves us getting on an airplane. WITH CHILDREN. Not something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in the past. And after someone with my level of social anxiety having to experience a woman yelling “shut up kid,” at my whiny 15 month old on a 6 a.m. flight bound for home, I had pretty well written off flying with my kids ever again.
But, it’s a short-ish flight, the kids are older, I’ll take my anti-anxiety meds before takeoff, and by golly, LET’S DO THIS.
So in the spirit of this adventure, I thought I’d share my tips for flying with kids, both as a refresher for myself and a PSA for any of you who’ve not yet had the pleasure.
1. Snacks. I mean, TONS of snacks. All their favorite stuff. Snacks they haven’t seen before. Snacks they’ve never even dreamed of. And this is not the time to be quinoa-and-flax-milk mom. No, this is the time for F-it-give-me-artificial-colors-and-all-the-sugar mom. Nothing gets an uppity kid to sit like an angel quite like the phrase, “want some fruit snacks?” For take off and landing, our particular favorite is gummy candy. They’re getting candy and they’re popping their ears. Win-win.
2. Toys. But not just the old standby toys. Bring their absolute favorite toys. And bring new toys that their eyes have not seen yet. You know how they get a new toy and play with it for hours and are so rapt in it that you get to watch an entire episode of a sitcom on Netflix, uninterrupted? That’s what you’re going for here.
3. Electronics. Again, this isn’t the time to be the martyr mom. Sure, it’s not the best thing for them to sit in front of a screen for too long, but trust me on this one. Download some good, entertaining, even educational games. Download some movies. And get those tots some headphones. Even one of your old smartphones you haven’t tossed out yet will get the job done. If you’re completely against this, I hear you. That’s fine. Bring books, lots of good books, preferably new ones they haven’t seen before.
4. Be SUPER nice to the flight attendants. Sickeningly sweet. Have your kids say hi to them with their cutest cherub faces on as you board. Yes of course you want a pair of wings for them to wear. Then, when your little one starts acting up, pretend like, this is the first tantrum little Johnny has ever thrown! He’s usually so quiet! It must be the air pressure on his ears! I don’t know what to do! Then when the people around you start complaining, you’ll have someone in uniform on your side.
5. Do not be fooled when they say families with small children can board first. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, get on that plane early. You want to be the last people on that flight if at all possible. The longer your kids sit in their seat with the plane just sitting there, the more antsy and bored they will get. The window of time between you boarding and the plane taking off should be very small.
6. Trips to the bathroom. Generally speaking, they don’t like it when you let your kids run up and down the aisles, but getting them up and out of their seats to walk around is a great way to kill time with them. Just take a lot of trips to the toilet, and take your time. Take your time walking back there. Pretend you don’t know how the door works. Stretch out that time as much as possible.
7. Drug them. I’M KIDDING. Don’t drug your kids. Because then you’ll just have to carry them. KIDDING! Mostly.
8. Don’t forget to put diapers and wipes in your carry on. This is a complete duh, but I actually forgot once. And it weren’t pretty.
And just don’t forget that haters gonna hate, and keep your sense of humor. Guaranteed, there will be at least one person who rolls their eyes and huffs their best huff when they see you get on board. These kinds of people used to make me feel like such crap about myself. Who am I? How dare I bring my children on a plane? I’m disrupting people’s lives here! But the truth is, those people are snobby, entitled and clearly have no children of their own, so they just flat out don’t get it. And you need to ignore them. No need to pass out goodie bags to your fellow passengers. Kids are humans too, and have as much right to fly on that plane as Very Important Business Man and Rich Lady Going to the Desert Spa.
When a baby starts crying on your flight, and it’s not yours, soak up that moment. It feels magical. Better than any drug out there. Then, of course, help them out if you can.
Safe travels. Drop your favorite tips in the comments section. And wish us luck.