Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 Tips for Flying with Kids

NEVER expect to ignore your child's misbehavior on a flight, or in an airport for that matter.  Once I had a small child (no, I'm not an anti-kid nazi, I have 2 lovely ones of my own) knock over a HUGE sign at the airport on top of me.  It's a wonder I wasn't injured or worse, the small child wasn't injured.  What was worse, he was on my flight home from Nicaragua.  He was equally misbehaved on the flight.  I love well behaved children while traveling.  And, not to avoid every major melt-down during travel, it's unavoidable.  But, good parenting goes a long way while traveling.

  1. Kill Germs. Airports and planes are dirty. Bring disinfectant wipes and wipe down everything around your child on the plane; arm rests, tray tables, wall, window shade – everything.  You don't want sick kids on vacation, or even right when you get back home.
  2. Bring extra supplies. The diaper bag has to be filled, complete with any supply that might ever be needed for any possible reason.  Extra diapers and supplies (30% more than you think you need – just in case of delays), paper towels, a cloth towel just in case you have to mop up a spill, plastic bags and ziplock baggies and an infinite supply of wipes. Bring a little air-freshener too. Trust me, you may be used to your little-one’s spit-up smell, but everyone around you won’t appreciate it.  And, don't forget to take the stroller if your kid still fits in one.
  3. Keep ‘em busy. Children’s attention spans are short at a young age.  I plan the 15-minute activity list.  You should have one activity per 15 minutes. Keep them busy and they’re less likely to aggravate you and the other people on the plane. Activities can be repeated, but only once an hour.  For us, these include: crayons on coloring books, regular hard picture book, sticker book, etch-a-sketch mini and one of those books with the special marker that reveals hidden pictures as you color, snacks and iPad (or insert your choice of electronic) for emergencies.
  4. Go ahead, watch TV. Here, television IS your friend. For longer flights, get a portable DVD player or something where you can play Barney, the Wiggles or whatever else you child likes.  And, do yourself and everyone else around you a favor and buy your kids child size headphones.
  5. Popping Ears. Infants cry during take-off and landing because their ears hurt.  So, make sure they’re drinking a bottle during those times to alleviate their ear-popping pain. It has worked like a charm for both of my kids.  For toddlers, it's time to learn to chew gum and it's the best environment for supervision with it.  Some water or juice won't hurt either.
  6. Extra clothes. Bring extra clothes for the kids…and for you. Sometimes, children get sick, so plan for it. Sometimes children get sick on you which my wife learned on one flight when my son threw up on her. From then on, we’ve each carried an extra t-shirt with us, just in case.
  7. Thou shall not kick. If your child is a fan of kicking the seat in front of them (why do they do this?), take off their shoes. One kick and it will hurt and they’ll stop doing it.
  8. Hear no evil. No matter how well-behaved you think your kids are, they may cry. So, as soon as the flight attendant comes around offering earphones, offer to buy a set for each of your seat-mates. 
  9. Thank you and Sorry! Sometimes your children are going to misbehave. It happens.  Yes, they are just kids (Okay? There, I said it.)  Or, they’ll be sick or something just won’t go as planned on the plane. You’ll make a few people miserable. This is where some Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts gift cards come in really handy.
  10. Dads – this one is for you. Your wife has enough to deal with so help her. I'm lucky enough to have the best dad on earth for a husband.  He really should be the one staying home with our kids instead of me.  He's a way better dad than I am a mom.

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