Have you ever flown with young children?
I have. I flew with my daughter when she was 14 months old, and then again with both children when they were 3 years old and 4 months old respectively.
And both flights went very smoothly.*
*I’m fibbing. Telling white lies. Okay, I’m flat out lying. They were awful.
And it can go smoothly for you, too! Here is your 15-step action plan to making flying with children a breeze. Hip hip hooray!
Step 1. PLAN.
Plan your journey. Plan your travel. Plan every word you’ll say and every thought you’ll have. Plan, plan, plan.
Step 2. PLAN SOME MORE.
Write lists. Lists of things to take. Lists of things to do. Lists of songs to sing to calm the kids. Lists of people to call as you sit in the airport lounge and pretend the screaming children in the airport are not yours… Lists. Lots of lists.
Step 3. SERIOUSLY. KEEP PLANNING.
You’ve forgotten something. This is not an assumption on my part. It’s a fact. KEEP. PLANNING.
Step 4. STOP PLANNING.
Phew. Does this mean you’ve thought of everything?
No. Of course not! But you’ve run out of planning time, and now you have to start the actual doing of stuff.
Step 5. PACK YOUR LUGGAGE.
Pack suitcases for yourself and your children. Pack enough clothing for double the amount of time you’ll be away. Then add more.
Step 6. PACK YOUR CARRY-ON.
Pack bags for yourself and your children. Pack enough child-entertaining stuff for double the amount of time you’ll be on the plane. Then add more.
Pack enough nappies and wipes (if applicable) for quadruple the amount of time you’ll be on the plane. Then add more. Then double it. Three times. And throw in a change of clothes for yourself. (Don’t laugh. I’m not exaggerating. Think of the worst poonami you’ve ever seen. Then double it. Three times. That’s what experts like to call a plane-nami.)
Don’t pack anything with which to entertain yourself. You won’t use it.
Step 7. HAVE A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.
I’ve written this step here, but there’s no need to include this in your official preparation list. It will happen anyway.
Step 8. GET TO THE AIRPORT EARLY.
You want to be checked in and complication-free when your kids have their “WHYYYYYY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT FOR THREE HOURS AT THE AIRPORT WHYYYYYY?” meltdowns. Simultaneously.
Step 9.a) GET ON THE PLANE FIRST.
Complete option a) if your kids are tantrumming. Board immediately, settle your kids in their seats and start pulling goodies from the carry-on bags of entertainment. Bribe them if you have to. If you’re early enough, there will be no witnesses.
Step 9.b) GET ON THE PLANE LAST.
Complete option b) if your kids are being (shock horror!) well-behaved. You must take every opportunity you have to strut past people and show them that you’ve totally nailed this whole parenting thing. Bonus points if you have Stayin’ Alive blasting from your phone as you strut down the aisle.
Step 10. TENSE UP.
If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to admit to yourself that this flight is going to be awful. AWFUL!
Step 11. START TO RELAX.
Well, hey. Look at that. You’re hours into the flight and the kids have been angels. Why does everyone think flying with the kids is so difficult? It’s a piece of cake! Get out your phone and start playing Stayin’ Alive again.
Step 12. GO CRAY CRAY AS YOUR CHILDREN START SCREAMING.
Take-off was fine. The flight was fine. The kids have enjoyed the novelty. But as the plane begins its descent, the screams begin. What is going on?
Perhaps this is just me and my kids. The rest of the flight is fine, if not fabulously fun and enjoyable. But all of that is undone the instant the plane starts descending and the changes in cabin pressure begin. Your kids will scream. They will cry. You will be convinced that they are auditioning for a remake of the Exorcist. The descent will be hell. Sorry.
(Note to anyone and everyone who finds themselves on a plane with young ones: there is nothing – nothing – a parent, flight attendant or anyone can do to make children’s ears feel better, and they are too young to understand that it’s temporary. Dagger eyes will get you nothing other than a label as heartless. Sympathetic looks and offers of chocolate have a much better chance of cutting through.)
Step 13. RESTRAIN YOUR CHILDREN.
“The pressure is gone! My ears aren’t popping! Planes are fun again! I want to run around the plane! I want to meet everyone on the plane! MMMMUUUUMMMM let me go!!!” – every young child’s inner monologue after a plane has landed and is taxiing.
Step 14. RUN OFF THE PLANE.
Contrary to step 9, there is no choice between option a) and option b) when you exit the plane. There will be no glorious strut past your fellow passengers as you demonstrate that you’ve nailed this whole parenting thing.
Turn off Stayin’ Alive. Leave your fellow passengers for dead. GET OUT OF THERE.
Step 15. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY.
AAAHHH. You are on holiday. It is so relaxing. It is wonderful. It is glorious. It is everything you dreamed it would be. Enjoy it. You’ve well and truly earned it.
And whatever you do, don’t think about the return flight…
Have you travelled with young kids? Do you have any (actual) tips to share?
This post is an entry into a competition run by Virgin Australia and ProBlogger as outlined here.