Flying with kids can be tough for children, their embarrassed parents, and every other passenger within earshot of the wriggling toddler in your lap. When seated passengers see you and your kid in the aisle, most of them are hoping you don’t sit next to them. They breathe a sigh of relief as you move to the poor guy doing his best not to make eye contact a few rows back. When you finally do take your seat, eyes roll when little Billy starts kicking the seat in front of him.
At some point in our lives we’ve been the kid, the passenger and/or the parent in this all-too-common, energy-sapping flight that never ends. However, there are things you can do to make the flight more pleasant for you, your child and the total strangers giving you the “eye” for bringing your rambunctious child on board.
Try these tips to get through the journey without driving yourself (and all the other passengers) totally nuts.
Try subliminal messaging. Before you even get on the plane, yawn, tell your child how tired you are and ask, “Aren’t you a little tired, too?” You know how a person yawning is contagious? You might catch a streak of good luck and have a sleepy kid on your lap all the way to Pittsburg.
Prepare ahead of the flight. If your child has never flown, give them reassurance that you’ve done it lots of times. What happens on a flight? Who will they see? What can they do? What can’t they do? Start indoctrinating your child in flight etiquette as soon as you know you’re leaving. Is running up and down the aisle okay? How about talking to the businessperson in front of you working on a report? Acceptable or unacceptable?
Pay attention. Whatever you do, don’t ignore your misbehaving child. When you ignore your child, you open up an opportunity for a nearby passenger to try to calm down your kid. And that may not go well for anyone.
Pack a BIG bag of distractions and necessities. Of course, Mr. Bunny has to fly, but bring a few favorite (quiet) toys to distract an antsy child. Playing games is good, even if it’s a game you played when you were five years old.
What should you pack in your carry-on?
- non-sugary snacks
- favorite toys
- books for reading
- all your necessary papers, i.e. driver’s license, passport, flight confirmations – everything to get you and your child from here to there
- diapers (if still necessary)
- a complete change of clothes for your child in case of a major “accident”
- a favorite blanket or pillow
- computer games (on mute, please)
- a DVD with your child’s favorite music, and ear buds
Don’t give your child a sleep aid before the flight. The fact is, this strategy can backfire. Some over-the-counter drugs actually wake up kids even more! That’s something nobody needs.
You’ll be glad you packed hand sanitizer. You’ll use it and the toddler who puts anything in his mouth will use it, too. No, you can’t get all the germs, but you can lessen the likelihood of catching “a bug” on the plane.
Bring candy that takes a long time to eat. Some kids go through gummi bears like ravenous birds. Instead, pack a bunch of lollipops and other hard candy.
Accept help. Even the grudgingly offered help. If the passenger next to you offers to hold some toys, take her up on it. We’ve all been there, and a sympathetic mom or grandpa might be a valuable helpmate during the flight.
Finally, bring little gift bags for the passengers who will endure the flight with you. Bottled water, a pack of gum, a snack – get the people around you on your side. These little goodie bags for your flight companions can break the ice and create reciprocity. You did something nice for other passengers, they’ll feel the need to pay you back by not complaining (at least out loud).
Flying with kids doesn’t have to be a chore for you or the other passengers. Turn the scowls into smiles by doing something nice for your fellow passengers, and keep your kid under control at all times. Your child may not like it, but the other passengers sure will.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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