Monday, August 23, 2010

Flying with Kids

After the last four and a half years of learning to fly with kids as I shuffle my spawn back and forth over the border, I've become a bit of an expert on flying with children. Addison has probably flown with me 15 or 16 times, and this will be Andrew's fifth time being dragged up to Canada. For my fellow moms, I give you tips and tricks to not get kicked off the plane because your child is a holy terror. It hasn't happened to me yet, knock wood.

-Plan, plan, and plan some more. I usually start my preparations a few days in advance. When I fly alone, I can throw whatever into a suitcase. With kids, no way. I'm leaving to Canada on Wednesday and spent all day today running errands for our trip.

-Hit up the dollar store. DO NOT bring lovey toys that your child cherishes. There's nothing more annoying than trying to crank yourself under a seat because your kid has dropped her bunny. Dollar store toys are great because if I lose them I don't care. I get coloring supplies, crayons, stickers and activities there.

-FOAM STICKERS. I love those little suckers. I buy a variety of shapes, pull down the tray and let my kids go to town. They create scenes with them, and they peel off easily and go in the garbage when the flight is over. We stick them on each other, on paper and on shoes too. Whatever keeps them happy.

-Bring snacks. Lots of snacks. Remember how you get hungry on the plane? Multiply that by ten and that's how your kids feel. I look for high protein snacks that will keep them full. I usually fly Delta, so I always bring along a $5 bill to buy one of their little snack boxes. The kids like going through it and choosing snacks and it kills like 30 mins.

-Bring your own sippies. Those stupid tiny glasses that the airlines give you WILL spill. I just hand over the sippy and ask them to fill it instead. I've also had flight attendants warm bottles, get hot water and hold a baby while I took my preschooler to the potty.

-Be self-deprecating. People who get on a plane thinking their kids are prefect are going to annoy a lot of people. I apologize a lot, give about 100 rueful smiles and roll my eyes, and I make a lot of friends that way. That's why the flight attendants are nice to me and my kids.

-Sit near a grandmotherly type, if at all possible. She'll be nice to your kids and even lend a hand. People to avoid? Twenty something men. They are generally annoyed by your children. Yes, even if they are cute.

-Bring enough diapers and supplies to last 24 hours, but don't go overboard on the diaper changing. I keep a pretty similar schedule, unless there's a blowout emergency. I change before we get on the plane, when at a stopover, and upon landing. You don't need 90 diaper changes on the plane unless your kid is offensively stanky.

-Invest in an easy-folding stroller. I LOVE MINE. It's a Baby Trend that folds with one hand. I gate check it so I can roll Andrew right down to the plane and lift him out just as I'm boarding. I drop the stroller, and when I get to my destination, a nice man has already set it up for me and it's all ready to go. Best airport invention ever.

-Breathe. Your kids are going to cry, kick the backs of seats and be unhappy. They're being cooped up for hours in a three foot by three fotts area. Give them a break. Make sure you have stuff to entertain them, and pull out the stops; a portable DVD player with headphones has been a lifesaver for me. If you fly a lot, definitely get one.

-Oh! I forgot one. If you have an early flight, let your kids sleep in some comfy clothes instead of jammies. In the morning you can transfer them to the car to sleep another hour or so without waking them up and trying to change them and then dealing with massive amounts of crankiness.

You'll get through flying with your kidlets! I've done the trip a few times on my own, and I always panic a little because hello, I'm shlepping a four year old and a one year old across North America. But we're getting to be seasoned pros. I might even get to read a book on Wednesday.


J.T. and KristaLyn said...

We appreciate the tips, we have a flight to Hawaii in November and we are worried about how our kids will be.

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