Blue Suit Mom

Tips for Moms: How to Travel With Children

Mother and little daughter looking out the window at airport terWe have all been there, eyeing up the family with the screaming child at the boarding gate and secretly hoping their seats are at the opposite end of the plane. But now that it’s your turn to fly with your small children, you want to do everything you can to avoid being on the receiving end of that glare—and, well, of course you want your kids to be happy, too.

Before You Fly

The first thing you can do to make your trip go smoothly takes place well before your flight. When you plan your travel dates and times, think about your children’s natural rhythms and personalities. If they are exhausted by the end of the week, consider pulling them out of school a little earlier to catch a Friday day flight instead of a Friday night flight. If your kids are still nappers, make your best guess on whether they will nap well squished into a plane seat or if they will do better if you let them nap first and then fly.

Frequent travelers find that their children do well because they know what to expect, and what is expected of them. Play a little game in the weeks leading up to the trip, laying out whatever three rules of the plane work best for you (e.g. Rule 1 is to sit down when the pilot’s light goes on, Rule 2 is to keep hands and feet to yourselves and Rule 3 is to always be quiet). Then, at random times, ask them to remind you what the rules were. Also, for first time travelers, read a book about plane travel so they are familiar with the process.

Once You’re On Your Way

Since it is virtually impossible to parent your child the way you want to while in the confines of a metal tube with hundreds of other people, the best way to deal with temper tantrums is to avoid them all together.

One of the best courses of action is to plan for a new activity or game or conversation in quick, 10 minute increments or when your children seem bored of what they are doing. Since most kids get excited to play with their favorite toys or characters, think about picking a theme for your trip such as Disney’s Frozen. You can get them an Elsa blanket to cuddle under, small Olaf and Anna figurines to play with and stickers for them to make their own ice castles. You also can stock your carry on with coloring book and crayons, blank paper and a catalog filled with kid’s products they can thumb through. Of course, for children with longer attention spans, use a portable DVD player or tablet to let them watch their favorite movie with headphones so they don’t disturb fellow travelers.

Since a parent’s bag can easily get overwhelmed with things to keep the kids occupied, consider getting each child a backpack of their own to carry their favorite stuffed animal, a few snacks, their change of clothes and a few items of entertainment. This way they can keep them at their feet on the plane and easily switch out activities as they want without having to bother you each time.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can strike at the most inopportune times—usually upon descent, on the one trip you forgot to pack your own change of clothes. To help combat this problem, stock plenty of plain snacks like pretzels and crackers for your children to nibble on.

Be sure that children prone to motion sickness get a window seat and know to sit still with their heads and necks relaxed. Have them avoid looking down to read books or play on electronics when turbulence hits. You can give them antihistamines like Dramamine or Benadryl, but be sure you test this on your children well before the flight because the medications can make certain children hyper—exactly the opposite of what you want on an airplane. If you are looking for natural help, you can use motion sickness wrist-bands like Sea-Bands. Always remember to pack a change of clothes in your carry on for each child and a clean shirt for yourself, just in case!

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