After my 'Kids aboard a plane: The 5 levels of Frustration' post 2 weeks back, I had promised to share some of the things that we do onboard to keep our own monkies occupied.
Because let's face it - small children are not designed to sit still in one spot for several hours unless they are sleeping. And even then, it's questionable. Kids will be kids, and they just love to squirm and worm their way around especially in confined spaces.
So here are some of the things we do to keep them occupied during a flight.
1. Bring anything the baby or toddler can suck on. Bottle, pacifier, lollipop or breast. This is the one time where it pays to bring the entire stash of goodies. Changes in air pressure on little ears cause pain, and having whatever we have on hand may actually go a long way in soothing the child, and fellow passengers too.
2. Fill up those tummies before boarding. Full bellies make for happy babies, so the last thing we want to have is to have to deal with a nuclear 'I-am-so-hungry!' meltdown onboard while waiting for the plane to take off. Full bellies also make for drowsy babies, we have noticed too. So it'll be a godsend if they fall asleep while waiting for the plane to taxi off the runway.
3. Have a bag full of options. I don't think this is anything new, but I cannot overemphasize this ever enough. Be it snacks, toys, coloring books or even their favorite blankie or stuffed toy, just bring the entire collection. Bring out one item at the time, to keep them busy but also to preserve an element of surprise (and sanity) for the rest of the trip whenever an new item is pulled out from the bag.
What I usually do before our flights is to head on down to Daiso and purchase a few small toys to bring along for the flight. Each item costs $2, so it is an inexpensive outlay in exchange for that surprise look on the monkies' faces when I pull one of them out as soon as I sense a climax of boredom approaching.
4. In today's world, technology rules and the kids know that too. So we make it a point to load our iPhone and iPad up with all their favorite shows, clips and apps before the flight. Keep in mind, though, that electronics must be turned off during take off, landing and turbulence. So we only bring them out when we are relatively high up in the air. Alternately, bring a portable DVD player for the trip.
5. Whenever possible, choose flight timings where they mirror the sleep patterns of the child. For us, we go for the night flights whenever we need to be in the air for more than 5 or 6 hours. This way, the monkies are usually asleep for the most part of the flight and we get a decent rest as well. Never mind if their legs are stuffed right in front of my face. I can live with that.
6. And the final and most important tip while travelling with kids during a flight is... Take along your sense of humour! Happy parents make happy children. Grumpy parents equates to grumpy children. Kids will pick up on your stress and in turn raise their own anxiety. Fussing over them will get them over-excited and more prone to acting out. It may be exceedingly tempting to administer that bottle of cough syrup, but by staying relaxed during the whole trip, your kid should stay chill.
I know it is sometimes easier said than done, and I myself have lost my cool during flights too. But by preparing myself in advance that there may be a few rough patches, and telling myself that I will get to my destination, staying calm and taking it easy will ensure that the whole family will have a much easier travel experience.
Click here: http://www.cheekiemonkie.net/2012/02/travelling-with-kids-what-to-bring.html to see a list of items of what we bring during our travels with the monkies. So... GOOD LUCK? :p