Tomorrow the kids and I will get our 5th plane ride together as a three-some. The lists below are long and clunky but contain my tips and tricks of surviving. With many more flights ahead of us in the next years, I need to post my list, so I won't have to rethink it each time. Feel free to skip to the comments and put what you do. Happy flying!
Option 1: Pack a backpack full of tons of lightweight items focusing on the distraction/surprise factor. Including many but not all:
- Envelopes sealed and addresses to each kid, filled with their old drawings or stickers
- Post-it notes (to stick everywhere from the seats to our faces)
- Painter's tape (to stick, wad up, peels, etc)
- FOOD: Blueberries, grapes, cheese cubes, and crackers and lots of wipes and a special treat for me
- Favorite stuffed friend and blankie
- Extra clothes for YOU as well as the kids
- Clorox wipes to disinfect chairs and tables and a special prayer for their health a week from now
- Hand Sanitizer
- Tylenol 20-30 min before take-off, make sure it's in a container 3 oz or smaller to pass security
- Wrapped $1 items from Target: measuring tape, little balls, stickers, books, etc (the wrapping paper takes up an extra 1.5 minutes per item. Invaluable.)
- A little cloth napkin or neck scarf to play peek-a-boo, be a hat on head, etc
- Lots of whispered songs and prayers
- Toy airplanes
- Glow sticks (especially for after the plane when driving home/destination in the dark)
- And of course... DVD player ( but my kids won't watch full-length feature films nor shows with any level of tension so we're still at the baby and little Einsteins and Signing time level) and a DVD or CD of family pictures.
- Be excited and enjoy it (it's contagious)
- Kids dressed in cute clothes (not really a bag thing, but a tactic to win the good opinion of those around me)
- Get kids laughing at gate and before take-off (again, people are better disposed to them when the scream later on)
- Be my kids' advocate not apologist (something I'm still working on)
- Give and pack kids their own backpack (They look adorable and melt your heart)
- Use the airports “family bathrooms” where the potties don’t sound like dinosaurs and you can take your stroller in
- Get a helper's pass: Most airlines will give a non-ticketed adult a "helper's pass" to helpnyou past security to the gate. With proper ID of course.
Option 2: Keep them alive long enough for them to effectively entertain themselves.
Option 3: Get a smartphone and apps.
Update: Pride goeth before the fall. Serves me right for thinking I've mastered flying with kids; yesterday's flight was the worst of the five flights. Kids yelling, toys flying across the aisle, DVD player losing power after 40 min, and no napping, sharing, or laughing. I guess four out of five isn't a bad record, but oh man that fifth flight. I did use all the stuff below though so maybe it's worth something...