Wednesday 27 March 2019

REAL tips for flying with toddlers!

Flying with toddlers. Flying with a lap toddler.... it doesn't sound fun.

Thankfully, our first flight was only an hour and a half long, but that doesn't even begin to cover any of the time dragging them through check in, security, milling around the departure lounge, heading to the gate, boarding the plane, sitting on the plane before and after take off, waiting to collect luggage... you catch my drift.

Airports are bloody boring if you're under 5 and have no money or patience. They're even more dreadful for the parents who have to endure those bored little people for half a day, even when the flight is "only" an hour and a half.

I've read so many posts with top tips for flying with small children and toddlers, but none of them truly touched on all that travelling by plane encompasses, so let's delve in and I hope that by the end of this post, if you're planning on flying with children you either change your mind (retreat!) or have a little more faith that you'll manage it.

When you first arrive at the airport:

Check in and luggage, security and of course...lines. Quite a lot of airlines these days allow you to check in early, so if you aren't checking luggage, chances are you're far more savvy than I am and you get to head right over to security. We did have luggage to check, because I am an over packer (plus we were getting tags to check our prams in at the gate, thank you for this huge convenience easyjet!).

The most important thing at this point, is to keep your little ones from going mad while they wait, because chances are there's a queue. I found with my oldest (she's nearly 4) the best thing to keep her mind occupied, was to invent jobs for her. She had her own little suitcase, and it was her job to wheel that along for example. Throw as many snacks as you can at them while they wait, promise them there is a McDonalds in the fabled departure lounge, and tell them they can watch as much Peppa Pig as they want on your phone. 

Also, make sure they wee before you start to line up because I promise you, they will decide they need one. Right away. Right before your turn with the X-Ray machine (especially if they've had to chug their drinks so they don't get binned!)

Departure Lounge:

If you manage to wrangle them through the X-Ray machines in security without a meltdown as they bin their water bottle, you've made it to the departure lounge. If you are lucky, unlike me, the promised McDonalds will buy you another 45 minutes of entertainment and a new toy. There was not a Maccas in the lounge when we flew, we had to sadly persuade the kiddies that Pret was just as good. It wasn't.

We watched planes, we gave Isla the job of watching when the board had new things appear, and we watched as much Peppa Pig on mummy's phone as we liked. Honestly, I keep repeating it. I'm not a fan of screens- my two don't get to use my phone or tablets, and they don't have their own and won't for a while. In the car, I tell them to look out the window... but at the airport, you gotta do what you gotta do to get by and just give in. Your sanity will thank you.

When it's finally time to get down to the gate, don't assume you don't need to move instantly. Yes, you have around 40 minutes before it leaves and before I had children, that was enough time to buy a magazine and a Toblerone before I wondered lazily away from the shops.... move move move- do it. We got to around 3 gates away before Archer decided it was prime pooping time and ended up at the back of the line to get on that silly little bus, Isla was wandering along with her little suitcase as slowly as she could and we just made it before they started boarding children.

On the plane:

I had a lap toddler. Archer is under two, so he had to be strapped to me. I used Netflix to "wifi free" download as many cartoons as I could onto my phone, and stuck it inches from his face in an attempt to keep him happy. He was lucky enough to get a go in the pilots seat in the cockpit before we took off, which meant while Jack was upfront with him I could get the bags and belts and older child all ready and settled.

Stickers, snacks, colouring (don't get round pencils, get the ridged edge ones so they don't roll off!) and cartoons were our saviours. If you bring things for them to do, take into account that they only stay focused for around 5-10 minutes before getting fidgety again.

Let them watch as much Peppa Pig as they want.

Being honest, nothing will prepare you for flying with children for the first time. I am no expert, but we did survive and we didn't piss off the people sitting around us too much and we all landed fairly happy but exhausted. Children get bored, it just happens, and no matter how you prepare, you never know how they'll handle a trip.

The real tip is don't beat yourself up or worry about the people around you, just focus on yourselves and try to enjoy it without letting the stress take over. They are people you will never see again and it'll be over before you know it.

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