Friday, March 13, 2009
How to fly with 2 young kids
Well I survived flying with both girls solo - barely. I wish I could say that the flights went perfectly and my kids were angels but that would be a lie. The flight to Arizona went better then the flight home, since poor Isla was sick. Yup, messy throw up sick. Not fun.
Before I left I was looking for tips online for flying with 2 kids and all I found were tips with 2 parents - i.e. have one parent do this and the other do that. Doesn't really work when you're travelling without your spouse. I was lucky that my husband was with me while I was checking-in at the airport (and my parents for the return flight) which helped since I had to work with airline to not charge me for the car seats, and they actually seated my 3 year old in a different aisle than me. I didn't notice this until we had left the check-in desk - when I got to the gate it was no problem to change since the plane wasn't full at all, so I have no idea why we didn't get seat together in the first place.
So here's what I brought that helped and what didn't and I wouldn't bring next time.
When I was researching what to bring - they said high protein snacks but didn't give any ideas of what that would be. Nuts? Maybe for my 3 year old but not for the 10 month. I did bring peanut butter sandwiches for us - if you are going over a meal bring something you know your kid will eat and like. I was trying to avoid sugary snacks so I made homemade granola bars (I know, how granola of me - pun intended) and they were really good. I did bring a Kinder egg for Lilo for later in the trip as a bribe - it worked.
Bottles for the baby - bring at least 1 more than you think you will need. Remember not account for the time in the airport before and after, in addition to the length of the flight, when you are figuring out how many bottles to bring. I brought one made up and the others just powder and bought water to add. You can bring bottles through security -they just have a non-invasive confirm that it is indeed milk.
One other treat for my 3 year old that I brought on the way home was popcorn - she loves it.
Toys that worked - DVD player. My 3 year old loves tv and movies (I know not a good thing but it's true) but the good thing about it was that she was pretty content on the flight watching her shows.
I brought a bunch of books and colouring books - she had no interest. I read about a few ideas to bring on the flight - stacking cups and painters tape. The stacking cups were just a mess, falling all over and with kid on your lap trying to get them was a pain (yes, Rob, you were right).
One website suggested low-tack painter's tape - they made it sound like the kids would have fun sticking it places and would have fun with it. Isla freaked out when I put a piece on her and Lilo had no interest.
Another thing was pipe cleaners and cheerios that they can string on - that might of been a good thing for a slightly older kid. I was trying to show Lilo what to do and Isla just kept grabbing and spilling Cheerios everywhere. I brought a bunch of things to keep the 3 year old occupied but not enough for the 10 month old - all she wanted to do was crawl off my lap, my arms got a work out, she's strong :)
I also read that it's wise tobring something for every 20 mins of the flight - but what if your kid gets bored after 2 mins?
The few good tips I got were to let your kids burn off energy before the flight. Have them run/crawl around at the gate - if you can find an empty gate near by, great. One thing it does is burn some energy and the other thing is make your kid cute to the other passengers - so make sure they are cute and not annoying people. Let them play and talk to other passengers before the flight leaves - play peek-a-boo with the person behind them. This way the passengers will remember them as cute (hopefully) even if they happen to be crying the whole flight. You will hopefully get more sympathy versus annoyance. Think about it - if you see a whinny, annoying kid in the airport then when they really start whinny and crying on the flight you will be annoyed. But if you saw a super cute, funny kid before the flight you might feel sorry for them if they are crying on the flight. Well that's what I was going with, since Isla was that crying kid.
The one thing I learnt on the horrible flight home: there is only so much you can do, so you can't stress out. Isla got sick twice on me and cried 80% of the flight. After awhile you have to stop stressing that they won't fall asleep and just try to sooth her as best as possible.
So make sure you have a change of clothes for your kids (another one for you if you can fit it) and at least one blanket. Poor Isla left the flight wearing her big sisters sweatshirt with no pants and I left with dried puke on my pants.
When I flew to my parents house in August - Isla was 4 months and Lilo 3 years old - Isla was a dream and slept the whole time. Lilo on the other hand was antsy. I ended up having to make the decision that either try and make her sit on her seat and have her cry and whine and bother the whole plane or sit on the floor and maybe just bother the guy in front of her.
So would I do it again? Yes, not for a while, but yes. Think of it like giving birth - delivery is not fun, but having a baby is. So the flight might not be fun, but the vacation was, and getting home was even better.