My daughter’s very first flight was when she was just few months old. Since then, for her modest age of three years, she has been more times in the air than I had ever been by the time I was fifteen. Subject to this, my husband and I learned some very important lessons. As can be expected, the school of life teaches its lessons the hard way. In our case it was more or less like this: with protruding veins on our foreheads, abundantly sweating, with a slightly lowered full of shame eyes.
Who would suspect that the energy of a little kiddo multiplies n-times at the very moment the airplane’s landing gear retracts?! And without being great with complex maths, I can tell you that when we fly with the wee one, the plane is usually on the verge of dehermetization. Not due to a technical malfunction, but because of the presence of a todler-on-board-that-will-explode-with-energy-NOW. So, with every subsequent flight, I learnt to carefully explore the instructions for emergencies, diligently studying where all falling masks come from, where are the hidden parachutes, belts and whistles, etc.
SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR PARENTS WITH KIDS ON BOARD
1. Choose early morning or late evening flights. This way the likelihood of the wee one falling asleep instead of pulling the woman’s hair from the front seat or jumping like a spring on the falling table increases significantly.
2. Dress up the child from the evening if the flight is early in the morning. Whenever we fly very early in the morning and we need to go to the airport at dark, I dress the little one with the clothes she will be travel with before going to bed (instead of pj). Hence, in the morning all I need to do is put her shoes and jacket on. This way in peace and sweet dreams, we usually successfully get to the airport.
3. Put all the documents in one place that you can reach within seconds, even if you hold a few pounds of sleeping happiness or thousands of bags in your hands.
4. Take the child’s stroller. This will ease your movement at the airport. Also, during your holiday you will be able to provide a pleasant place for a nap to the wee one if they get tired of walking. I usually use the buggy as a carrier of water bottles, various snacks and extra clothes. Always choose to go with the buggy to the plane and never leave it along with your luggage when checking in at the airport. This ensures that your buggy will not be damaged by the transfer of n suitcases on top of it.
5. Take with you a small bag with things just for the child. Put in it two sets of spare clothes, wet wipes, a bottle of water, and all that the wee one loves to eat and drink.
6. When taking off and landing, always give the child something to eat/drink. Children have not yet developed the instinct to clear their ears by swallowing or yawning when the pressure changes. This can cause ear pain that is extremely unpleasant. To avoid this side effect of each flight, the child has to chew something. This creates the same effect that adults use to clear their ears. I usually give my wee one nuts, fruits or biscuits. My friend, on the other hand, always brings lollipops for such occasions. Drinking water or juice also helps.
7. Provide comfort. Take your wee one’s favorite cushion, blanket or soft toy without which the world would end. This will create at least some comfort for the duration of this otherwise uncomfortable trip – unless you are in the business class of Quatar Airways, for example.
8. Prepare an entertainment program. If it happens that the wee one shows more interest in doing mischief rather than sleeping on board, start throw like confetti interesting activities. A new toy, a reading book, a game, a coloring book, some play doh or a puzzle always save the situation for at least a while. If not, the poor woman’s hair in the front seat is always a good play. If you fly with one of the major airlines, you can also rely on them for some activities or interesting films on the screen in front of you. If you are flying with low-cost companies, make sure you carefully select the portable circus yo carry with you to suit the interests of the child.
9. Explore the passengers around you. If there are families with children around or nice people willing to make funny faces and throw and catch a soft toy infinite number of times, you are hell lucky. You will definitely have some hard time if you are surrounded by grumpy faces.
10. Soothe your nerves. A glass of wine works flawlessly in such situations. If the situation is unbearable, put on your BOSE headphones, that isolate you from the noise around and turn on the volume on your favorite playlist. If even this does not work, you can always pretend that you do not know the little passenger sitting next to you ;).
11. Always check at least thirty minutes before landing if the child wants to visit the toilet. Usually, fifteen minutes before landing, the toilets are closed and you can not get out of your seat. Also, there are seldom toilets at the airport before the passport check. In other words, think in perspective => dry clothes – happy child.
12. Do not forget even for a moment during the flight that you are a super hero parent and that you are doing great. Especially given the inability to jump in motion from the plane.