Give mom a break
Have a master plan
Flying 101 with kids is to be prepared … over-prepared. You can never have too many wet wipes and nappies, or too much hand sanitizer! Pack extra clothes and some medicine, as you never know when your kid might get a temperature or start to feel unwell. Expect the unexpected and you’ll arrive at the other end with your head held high.
Be first on board
We all know how excited kids can get about travelling by plane. Get your eager clan front and centre when it comes to boarding. Being on the plane first will mean that you can get rid of most of the adrenaline and get them strapped in and ready for take-off. If you wait till the end you’ll be having to squeeze past old grumpy pants whilst bumping passengers with the odd soft toy as you maneuver towards the window and middle seat.
Let sleeping babies lie
Some kids can sleep anywhere, others can’t. Consider flying as close to their sleep time as possible … it might just give you time to sneak in that glass of red and the first 20 pages of your novel.
Make some allies
Let’s face it, you’re probably going to need some allies on the plane. Make the most of the time you have while waiting to board … small talk with parents who are getting onto the same flight can pay off big time! Ask the standard questions like, ‘how old is your little guy?’ and give some support by saying ‘good luck for the flight!’ This might not be the start of a lifelong friendship, but at least you’ll have someone to share some sympathetic glances with when your kid is having a meltdown at 35 000 feet.
Come bearing gifts
No kid in history has been able to sit still, lie back and sleep through an entire long-haul flight. Hedge your bets and buy some surprise new toys to keep your little one entertained while awake. Wrap them in some giftwrap with loads of sticky tape … not only will they take some time to open, when they’re unwrapped they’ll be kept busy with the new toy, giving you at least 15 minutes of guaranteed quiet time.
Keep them buzzzzy
Don’t be the mom who asks the flight attendant for a pen and a cocktail napkin out of desperation. Forget the ‘no screentime’ rule and make sure you bring all, or at least one, of the following on board: portable DVD player, iPod, iPad, Kindle, Nintendo DS or a LeapPad pre-loaded with some new games or animated movies. If digital is not your friend then don’t forget the pop-up books, stuffed animals, Go Fish playing cards and whatever else that will fit in your Mary Poppins handbag.
Have chewing gum or lollipops on hand for take-off and landing to help your kids with ear pressure on board. For babies the sucking motion of a dummy or bottle will solve this little problem in a jiffy.
Don’t suffer in silence
If you are struggling, ask the air hostesses for help … they’re great at helping parents with kids.
Take care of you
While pouring all your efforts into project managing your kids on board, don’t forget to look after your own wellbeing and comfort. Take care of yourself and the rest will take care of itself. If you are on top form, you’ll be far more able to cope with those unexpected niggles that will be thrown at you along the way.
Remember to breathe. Stay flexible, patient and calm. Go with the flow. Remember you are not the first mom in history to board a plane with a kid. That fancy businessman might just be missing his toddler at home, and the pensioners in the row in front of you might be reminiscing about their days of travelling with kids.