Friday, October 7, 2011

Flying with Children

This past summer we flew cross-country. Round-trip. The first time I flew alone with our four children and discovered how many strangers will take pity on an overloaded Mom flying alone--offers to watch our things while I took kids to the bathroom, or help me get to my terminal. The help I most appreciated? When Little Nephi, wearing his overstuffed backpack, fell backwards on the escalator. He was laying there, like a helpless turtle on a soft shell, and I was just out of reach, balancing the stroller on two wheels so we could make it up the escalator. The man in front of him came down to help him up.
By the time we flew home, Dad had joined us, and learned how long the day is when you're strapped in a seat next to four antsy little ones.
Useful things we learned:
Window seats are good.

A color-your-own paper doll book
I got for about $1 at Michael's.
Round-tipped, child-safe scissors pass security checks. As did the Go-gurt. We had an unopened box in the top of the freezer, grabbed it on the way out the door (okay, it would be easy to forget). We put it on the conveyor belt for security, who didn't even bat an eye. They're individually packaged small enough that they are an approved size for "liquids." A few hours later when they had mostly thawed, they were very popular with the kids. No one wants to eat granola bars and crackers all day.

Using a Little Dover train sticker book.
The Little Dover books are inexpensive, vary from train sticker books to paper doll books, and can fit in a pencil pouch along with the 10 colored pencils or child-safe scissors you need to go with them.

Improvising a "road" for his new car.
You can see he's getting tired or bored.
A new matchbox car: it was cheap, small enough to fit in a pencil pouch, and if you don't have more than three, you can probably keep track of them. Ditto for small dolls (minus the teeny shoes).

Cabin Fever

As long as they aren't blocking the aisle and the seatbelt light isn't on . . . allow a little improvised exercise--or craziness.
During our 2-hour layover.
During our layover (which was much too long, since our plane actually got in on time) we plugged in Cory's phone and let the kids listen to the new Phineas and Ferb album Aunt Rebekah had just downloaded for them. Mia fell asleep on the floor. A passing janitor took pity on her and found a blanket for her.
Those party packs of Play-dough? They're travel-sized for your convenience. The kids used their trays in the plane and it kept at least one of them busy for close to an hour. It may have relieved a little stress to be able to smoosh something repeatedly. Without being told "no."

In summary:
Feed your kids on the way to the airport so they start this ordeal with a solid meal.
Frozen Go-gurt.
Pack kids' entertainment in pencil pouches. Little Dover books, a new matchbox car, and party size Play-dough are great. Lots of little pieces are not. Only bring as many markers or colored pencils as you can keep track of.
Expect people to need to take naps or stand on their heads before it's all over. Don't keep your expectations unreasonable high.

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