How to get through a flight with your little darlings…
Me and my gang are off on a big transatlantic trip in less than two weeks. We’re so excited and have been planning it for ages. But everyone keeps telling us we’re ‘adventurous’ and ‘brave’ and ‘crazy’ for having a fairly busy itinerary planned for our young family. Maybe we’re totally naive but I’m not THAT frightened about the prospect.
We all have different ideas about what a holiday should be. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than plonking my bum on a sun lounger and relaxing for a week and we definitely do our fair share of that! Especially during these sleep deprived years of baby/toddlerhood. But I also feel like it’s such a waste to travel to the other side of the world and only see one place. Visiting a different country with an entirely different culture and staying in one spot and not leaving it, is not my idea of a perfect holiday. Maybe it’s because I was never brought up with that kind of holiday. Some of my first memories are running to our cabin in Yosemite national park in the pitch black being chased by a skunk ….and barbecuing on the beach outside our bunk-bedded winnebego. My ‘crazy’ parents took me and my sisters on a massive road trip when we were about 3 years old. And although we only remember snippets now as adults, those are lifelong memories.
So! We’re trying to cram in as much as is realistic for an easily road-raged husband, 3 car-hating kiddies and me..THE most travel sick person who ever existed.
We’ve done a few long haul flights before. When I was 7 months pregnant we travelled over 12 hours with a nearly 2 year old on my husband’s lap and a three year old in tow. I’m not saying the flight was the most pleasant experience of my life but we all survived and it was so worth it for the memories we made on that trip!
Hattie (so far) has been a little angel on planes. She will sit and colour and draw and watch movies and entertain herself, just like she does at home. Rose is a lot more high maintenance, just like is at home. She finds it hard to sit and watch movies and she finds it even harder to keep her voice down and to stay still.
Rupert is obsessed with being down on the floor at the moment and not in anyone’s arms so I’m just going to be focusing on not losing any of his fingers to the drinks trolley!
It may be a disaster. And I’m sure while we’re on the plane, sweating, having made the 15th trip up and down the aisle with Cheerios stuck to our backsides and painfully aware of all the eyes on us, we may vow never to do it again. But of course we will do it again.
Basically, we just need to get through the journey and not dwell too much on it! Here’s a few tips and also a list of what I’ll be taking on the plane with me… Not stylish or hip. Just a survival kit.
You don’t have to be quite so prepared if you’re not going long haul but there are still some useful tips!
RULE #1: GET THROUGH THE AIRPORT. First things first, think about the logistics of the airport and whether you have any transfers. Is it a big airport? Will you have to wake your kids up at 3am or carry them off the plane at 2 in the morning? If so, you need a buggy that you can put in the overhead storage and/ or a sling. I’ve got this one from Mothercare and it’s brilliant, it folds up into a handbag. It will be really handy as a second buggy while we’re away too as Rose still flags sometimes if we’re out late in the evenings and it fits in the basket of our other stroller. We’re bringing our bugaboo bee too but we won’t get that until we collect the luggage, so Rupert will go on my back in the sling and Rose will go in the buggy (Hatts will have to walk and will most definitely moan about that!). In the past, we have had to carry a child each plus all our bags through huge airports and through the horrificly long customs queues all the while panicking we’re going to miss the connection because Rose decided to lay flat on the floor in security. We’ve always travelled with some means of strapping her in since then. Another pram option is the Babyzen yoyo, it’s more pricey but you won’t ever need any other buggy as it fully reclines etc. I have the ergo baby 360 sling btw and can still carry Rose on my back.
RULE #2: Be hands-free I make sure we all have back packs – including the kids. They carry their own toys and colouring books. You both need your hands free to make sure you don’t lose them and can drag them through the airport if need be. And get to your passports etc
RULE #3: STRIP OFF. (This only applies to long haul). Change everyone including yourself into tracksuit / pjs as soon as they’re on the plane complete wth slipper socks. You and the kids will all get filthy. I have been sicked and pooed on on aeroplanes not to mention spilled drinks and just the general mess of a confined space with kids all over you. If you’re meeting family or friends when you arrive or staying anywhere half decent it’s quite nice to feel fresh and look a little presentable even if you don’t feel it. It’s also so so much more comfortable which really helps with your irritability levels!
RULE #4: WAIT as long as you can before bringing out all the exciting things you have brought to entertain the kids on the plane. Let the novelty of the runway and the seatbelt and the inflight safety card wear off first. And then bring out the big dogs.
RULE #5: DOUBLE UP. However many nappies you normally use, double it. However many bottles of milk your baby has, double it. However many dummies you would normally take out with you, double it. There is nothing worse that not having your essentials. Losing a dummy could be catastrophic and if your baby settles to sleep with a bottle of milk it could take a few. You could successfully get the baby to sleep, then the air hostess will make an unnecessarily loud announcement and wake him up. I used to have a bottle or a boob on standby ready to shove in if the baby was woken. I have also been known to run out of nappies in mid-air. Not good.
RULE # 6: EAT. Drag out meals and break up the journey with snack times. Eating is such a good way to pass time. See the kinds of snacks I take below1. Tiba & Marl mini Elwood 2. M&S gold rucksack 3. Skip-Hop unicorn rucksack 4.Meri Meri drawstring bag 5.Cath Kidston dino bag 6. Camo Zara bag 7. M&S blue badge bag
WHAT TO BRING..
1. iPad and headphones with a good variety of apps and games loaded on. We’re not huge iPad people really, we all share one old cracked iPad which we forget to charge up. But, on the plane it comes into its own and is an absolute must-have! Rose, for some reason, is able to engage with the iPad more than a tv.
Some good things to have loaded on are:
- Toca Boca apps are amazing and totally captivate my girls. I have them all!
- Colouring and jigsaw apps are great for kids big and small.
- The One Billion Maths app has been a great one for my kids. You can get different stages and even Rose who doesn’t know numbers really spends ages playing with this.
- Monkey pre school is also great for 3 year old kids.
- A couple of movies and also lots of episodes of something shorter like Ben and holly etc
2. Colouring and sticker / activity books. I find the intricate almost grown up ones are great for the plane. Dot to dot books are also good for those who know their numbers. These magic no mess pen and colouring book sets are amazing for younger kids – the pens only work on special paper so no drawing on clothes or hands or on the handbag of the lady next to you (yes that happened to us). I’ll even let Rupert loose on these. Sticker books like these and these. Plus this sticker by number book for older ones and this mosaic sticker book. These will also all come in handy in restaurants etc while you’re away. I normally just keep them in the basket of the pram in a little bag.
3.Pens with non-loseable lids! These are a life saver on the plane and when out and about in general. Hattie annoyingly won’t use pencils these days and insists on pens but it drives me mad when I buy her a lovely new pack of pens and they all dry out because she loses the lids. These are like a big key chain of pens with tops attached on so they’re impossible to lose down the side of a seat or at the bottom of your bag.
4.Notepad – a plain old notepad for doodling and scribbling and playing games
5.Books– Picture books like this are good for toddlers. Lots of things they can point at and name.
6. Play – doh. A couple of small little tubs and one or two tools are a great way to pass time. It does depend on the child though. Rose makes a terrible mess with play doh at home so she is most definitely not allowed it on the plane.
7. A giant muslin, blanket or hammam. You can use as it as a blanket for enforced naps or lay it on the floor to make a cleanish play area if you have seats with leg room. A squishy pillow can also be handy. I know they’re such a pain to carry around but if you’re not in business class they can come in handy to make sure you get a good shot at getting them to have a nap. Or if a little one is napping on you it can also help to stop you getting a dead arm.
8. Snacks, snacks and more snacks. For younger ones, snacks that take ages to eat and use their pincer grip are great. We have passed a good 30 mins on a mini box of cheerios with an 11 month old. Basically anything that doesn’t crumble or melt is good. Individually wrapped brioche, crisps, mini crackers or breadsticks. I also (for a long flight) often take a pasta salad or something as often the kids meals are yuck and they don’t provide for babies on laps. Definitely bring some treats but only as a bribe to fend off major melt downs. A wipe-able crumb catcher bib is also very handy
Oh and I will also be bringing mini aeroplanes, a couple of cars and dinosaurs and and some Tupperware for Rupert to play with. The Tupperware comes in handy when you’re away and want to pinch some things from breakfast for mid morning snacks too 😉
Happy holidays all! Wish me luck!