Everybody speaks about how wonderful it is to have children and it is. Ask me, I have my own! The problem is when you desperately want them to sit still throughout a flight. I tend to think that kids sometimes irritate their parents deliberately; why else would a child push you up against the wall then cry when you try to bring them under control?
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post
Having observed mine for a while, I figure that kids always succeed at throwing tantrums, glaring other passengers and drawing undue attention to their parents. If you have kids of your own or happen to be a guardian to some, then you understand what I am talking about. Lately, though, I have been trying several strategies to reduce the stress levels I get any time my kids are flying with me. Actually some could even be fun – let us explore them together;
Book seats next to each other
Depending on the number of kids you are travelling with, it is best if all the seats are on a single row. This way, the frequent bathroom breaks that kids love to take will not be at the expense of the comfort of other travellers. Children love it when they can watch as the plane flies past things on the outside – if possible, let them sit at a window seat.
Allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport
It only happens in movies that someone gets to the airport seconds before their flight takes off. I have missed several flights in real life and it is not a pleasant experience. Besides the lateness spilling over to the rest of the family members, you risk pilling the blame on the kids. Before you plan when to leave the house for the airport, factor in unexpected bathroom trips, delays because of tantrums and time wasted playing games at the airport.
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Prepare the kids for airport processes
I have seen kids at the airport refusing to remove their belts and holding on to stuffed animals when they should be placed on a tray for security screening. Airport security can indeed be intimidating but it a mandatory step before flying. If you take time to explain to the children why it is important and what exactly happens, they will be less nervous when it happens. This means less stress for you.
Save a couple of kids’ movies to watch inflight
So you have no room to bring along an iPad, laptop or device that can play movies? You surely have not had experience with bored children in a flight. When kids settle down to watch a movie, their attention is captured by what they are watching. You will be surprised that most kids fall asleep as they watch movies with headphones. For longer flights, carry more movies and alternate them with games.
Have kids express aspects of the flight through art
When you are packing your hand luggage, throw in crayons, drawing papers, and markers for each child. When they are not watching movies or playing video games encourage them to paint or draw pictures of what they expect at the destination. The flight back can even be more interesting because they will be drawing their experiences, things they loved to see and expectations when back home.
Bring along books
Imagine how calm you get when you take a book you love to read through a flight or long wait at the bank queue. It is the same with children – books can either be in print form or audio form. Depending on the age of a child, carry appropriate material for them to enjoy during a flight. This is not the time to bring school-based books – it should be something action-packed so that it grabs their attention.
Bring travel games
These can best be interpreted as games that the entire family can play. If you can find chessboard, travel checker, or scrabble with magnetic pieces, even better to avoid the risk of getting lost when they fall down. My kids get bored quite quickly but they are competitive so board games work well for me. Joining in the games will not only make playing more interesting but you will have direct control over what they are doing.
Go overboard on snacks
Most of the time, our children will act out and even harass other passengers merely because they are hungry. If you think that your 10-year-old does not need to eat every few hours like a toddler would, you are wrong. Suppose your flight was delayed? Snacking is a creative way to kills boredom as you nourish your body so be keen on healthy snacks. Some snack ideas you can borrow include dried fruit, crackers, and cheese. Is it necessary to bring along drinks into the flight? Only buy after security screening because they will not allow you to take liquids past security.
Carry some gum and candy
I have had it many times during my travel; my ears popping because of air pressure imbalance at takeoff and touch down. This sensation is totally disconcerting and it can be quite uncomfortable for kids too. To minimize this effect, give your children some candy or jam to chew on as the plane lands or takes off. This is such a small price to pay compared to the stress you might get from children whose hearing has been temporary impaired.
Prep kids for airport emergencies
How soon after you get separated from your children at the airport can you be reunited? Until you have experienced this first hand, many people will think of empowering your child as being extreme. From an early age, kids should know the names of their parents, home telephone number and address. In the event that they need to ask for help, teach them to trust people in uniform or a woman with a child.
What are your top tips when flying with children? Let me know in the comments below.