By Cheryl Maguire
“Don’t you want to watch a movie?”
The person across from me on the airplane, had a toddler squirming on her lap. She was desperately trying to get him to watch the onboard movie screen. The boy eyed the long empty aisle in front of him. Clearly, he was more interested in sprinting down the aisle than watching a movie on mom’s lap.
I sympathized with this woman because I found myself in a similar situation the first time I flew with my twin toddlers. After flying regularly with them, I’ve learned a few tricks that I wish I knew then. I’m going to share my mistakes with you so, you don’t have to learn the hard way as I did.
1. Not Buying A Seat
Flying is expensive. Since my twins were under the age of two I thought that saving the money by not buying two seats would be worth it. What I didn’t stop to think about is my twins have never sat quietly on my lap for three hours so why would they start doing so on an airplane? Like the boy I saw on the airplane, all they wanted to do was run up and down that aisle.
2. Not Bringing a Car Seat
Since I didn’t purchase seats, I couldn’t bring a car seat for them to sit in. If I had, they would have been buckled in like in a car ride, unable to wiggle on my lap or run down the aisle. For their next flight, I did bring the cars seats and I was shocked to see both kids sleeping for most of the flight. It was worth the extra cost of the tickets.
3. Not Booking A Nonstop Flight
Before having kids, my husband I always flew the least expensive method, which usually meant at least one stopover. Since we never had issues doing so before, we had a stopover with our first flight with twin toddlers. What I didn’t consider was how difficult it is to transport twin toddlers and all their belongings to another plane. Plus, the extra time stopping added to the travel was exhausting.
4. Let Them Bring Their Own Backpacks
I let each of my kids back their own backpacks as a fun way for them to get excited about travelling. That worked. What didn’t work was them carrying their own backpacks. They either kept forgetting it or they were too heavy and either my husband or I ended up carrying it. On future flights it was much easier to pack all of their things in a carry-on bag with wheels.
5. Not Bringing Fun Snacks
The first time I travelled with them, I brought the usual boring snacks like Cheerios. They didn’t get very excited about it. The next time I tried bringing snacks that they don’t eat often, but I knew they liked. This entertained them for a little while.
6. Not Bringing Lots of Changes of Clothes
I always bring at least one change of clothes, but I didn’t anticipate needing more than one. Toddlers make messes and have accidents so bringing multiple changes of clothes is often necessary. I was lucky because I brought one change of clothes for each kid, so when the one child needed two outfit changes, I was able to accommodate him. For future flights, I always packed at least three sets of clothes for each child.
7. Relying on Electronics
Electronics like iPads and onboard movies often don’t work or deplete the battery before the flight is over. Plus, toddlers can become easily bored with electronics. On future flights, I packed colouring books or activities and games that they had never seen before, so it was new and exciting for them.
8. Not Prepared for Ear Popping
Both of my kids had trouble with the air pressure changes on the plane. They were too young to chew gum, and I didn’t know how to help their pain. I later learned that yawing or sucking on a straw or lollipop can reduce the pain.
Flying Stress Free With Toddlers
That first flight with my toddlers was a nightmare. But by learning from my mistakes I was able to have a reality stress free trip, and you can too.
Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05