How to keep your kids happy on a flight
We started flying with the girls when they were very little- Maya was 4 months old, Amaara was 5 months old and Imaani was just 2 months old when they took their first plane journeys. Between them, the girls have racked up a considerable amount of air miles (36 flights and counting as of this month) as we love long haul destinations and no, it hasn't always been plain sailing but you could say that they are used to travelling by now. Regardless of the difficulties we have had (we have been shouted at by fellow passengers, given dirty looks, told to shush, even had my seat kicked whilst breastfeeding for reclining my backrest), Jude and I always pushed through as the trips are just as much for us parents as they are for the children. I will not let others and their bad attitudes deter me from making memories with my girls- I will never see those people again and to be honest what they think or say doesn't bother me.
Practise makes perfect- the more you fly with kids, the more you learn about the do's and don'ts and it naturally gets easier the older they get. Since we are off on holiday in a couple of days I thought I'd put together a few tips that work for our family.
- Allow plenty of time at the airport
The last thing you want to do with young children is to rush at the airport. Children tend to feed off your energy so the more relaxed and calmer you are, the better. Arrive super early to avoid crazy queues, especially in the school holidays, make use of all the facilities available for families with young children (separate queues etc), have a relaxing meal or go to the kids' zone so the little ones can let off some steam before being confined to a small space for several hours.
- Give the kids their own backpacks
My girls get 1 backpack each as a carry on and I let them pack it themselves. This has to be supervised of course as they get carried away otherwise. We tend to pack crayons, a colouring book, lots of snacks (Organix Carrot Sticks, nuts, crackers), a change of clothing, socks, a workbook, gratitude journal, headphones, spare hairbands and earplugs. I make a separate 'flight entertainment pack" for each girl which consists of a tub of play doh, stickers, a small book and a pack of cards. I give them this pack on the flight; they love the surprise element and it keeps them entertained for a long time.
- Preparation is key
Make sure to preorder a kids' meal with the airline and bring plenty of snacks, especially on long flights. Kids act up mostly because they are hungry, tired or a combination of both. Preempting the situation and providing a consistent flow of food will keep their tummies full and happy. Always bring spare clothes, for yourself as well. Somehow I always end up covered in food and I'm always glad to have a spare set of clothes on hand.
- Don't expect to rest
Perhaps this isn't the case when you travel with 1 child but with 3, Jude and I don't rest much. We know the drill by now, they rarely sleep at the same time and someone always needs to be changed, taken to the in flight restroom, played a game with so we take it in turns to tend to their needs. As much as holidays are for relaxing, as parents we are always on the go of course; nothing really changes except you are in a different country, the routine stays the same. You have to accept this reality and learn to enjoy your new normal. To me, going away with my girls and experiencing their joy is worth the journey and the relentless routine- I wouldn't have it any other way.
- Try to stick to your routine
This can be tough as kids get excited and seem to have of energy but I find that it helps if they go to sleep on the plane at their usual bed time/nap time. I try to compromise with them i.e say you can play 2 more games and then we are going to rest. I promise them a yummy snack when they wake up and they are usually willing to have a little snooze.
- If all else fails...screen time
If you ask any of my family and friends they'll tell you that my kids don't have/use Ipads, they aren't allowed to use or watch anything on our phones well because, they're OUR phones and movies are strictly limited to Friday nights. I have always been crystal clear (since before having kids) about this rule for various reasons (another blog post perhaps?). The only exception to my Ipad rule is when we are on a plane and travelling outside of the EU and it is something I reach for as my last resort. Our girls don't ask for it much as I think they forget that it is there but it's handy to download their favourite show or some songs just in case the sh*t is hitting the fan.
Do you have any travelling tips of your own?