Are you doing the walk of shame onto the plane?
Do you know the parents' walk of shame? Whenever I board a plane with my hord of small children, I fear the stink eye I am bound to receive from the other passengers. Worst is, if one or all of them are already crying. Everyone loves babies and small children except for when they are on a plane. Somehow screaming babies and children is ten times worse when it is on a plane. The sweetest Kindergarten teacher becomes a child hating grinch as soon as they step through the boarding gate. Trust me, when I am travelling without my little monsters, the last thing I want is a 2 year old behind me kicking my seat. So dear stressed business man in a suit, trying to desperately finish that email, Excel or PowerPoint on your laptop: I feel you! You do not want my little beasts near you. You and I both are stressed out about this! So I am doing my best and have developed several techniques to try and keep my children at bay.
Most of this is about preparation in advance:
- timing of the flights: try and book short flights neither too early nor too late and best of all during nap times. This way you will also miss most of the business travellers. Also consider an 8 am flight might mean getting up at 5 and a 20:00 arrival will probably put your bedtime at around 23:00. That will just make everyone cranky. Longer flights kind of are what they are, when it comes to timing but I have found nighttime flights more favourable with my babies.
- Take it easy and give yourself lots of buffer time! Whether it is to get to the airport or when changing flights. Trust me, running with luggage, Baby in a carrier and toddlers is not fun! Done it! Do not recommend! Keep in mind stressed out parents usually make for uncooperative and stressed children in exactly the moment you do not need. A full blown toddler temper tantrum right as your hand luggage is going through security is not ideal. (Though a screaming baby during check in to distract from the fact that the bugaboo bag is is mighty overweight can be handy)
- Use and consider facilities that are at the airport. If there is a family check in, use that! Is there a baby area or a playground? Zurich airport for example has a great play area where you can let them move freely. Little ones get their tummy time in and the older ones can run around and hopefully tire themselves out.
- Breastfeeding or bottle for start and landing with very little ones helps with the pressure. Also with some luck they might just fall asleep or be happy and fed when in the air. You will definitely want to take a big Nooshi to cover yourself if you’re breastfeeding. I always found this also helped to shelter my baby from all the noise and overflow of impressions of the plane. Also I do not need the business man next to me wriggling uncomfortably whilst ogling my boobs. On a long flight when all else fails with the baby I have sacrificed myself soothed for almost 6 hours on an 11 hour flight. Ouch! Not ideal but better than a screaming baby.
- Take clothes to change! Perhaps even a spare top for yourself. The longer the flight, the more! It seems an unwritten rule that my babies have the mother of all poonamies when on a plane. I mean overflowing nappy doesn’t cover it… more like all the way up the back. But hey if you spend twenty minutes in the bathroom trying to do damage control, that is twenty minutes you have passed of the plane ride.
- Pack entertainment helpers. Toys, Books, Rattles, something to draw with, hand puppet. Anything to entertain for at least 10 minutes is a big win. Our Mini Play Wishes makes an excellent package for this by the way.
- Snacks! If your baby is old enough. Go all out with the snacks. As far as I am concerned planes are a rule free zone for my children. They can eat whatever they want. Be careful though this might backfire if your child has a tendency to get sick. You don’t want to let them eat all that sugar? Come prepared! Take some healthy options with you to have handy at all times. Plane food is also not exactly riveting so it pays to have your own.
- Pack Blankets and at least one big Nooshi. Planes get chilly so you should cover your darling up. For my baby I would rather use my own soft blankets than the scratchy ones from the airline. Also to put underneath on the spare seat or in the rented basin to give your baby some clean space to move.
- Electronic helpers: the dreaded IPad is a controversial one. Obviously for babies this is not an option. But once they are a little older and the flight is super long you might just consider this option. I have recently introduced this to my 2 and 3 year old for a 14 hour journey. My approach was very clear rules when the iPad is allowed and when it is not and for how long. Also I spend a lot of time researching Apps and making the thing child adequate. Which basically meant deleting everything else and locking Apps and figuring out how to put a time limit. Whether you choose this or your old tape player with stories, make sure you have child friendly headphones.
- When booking the seats or checking in at the desk, ask for separate seats to your partner. Now this seems like a recipe for divorce but actually, you can play tag team with the children. If you only have one, one of you can rest whilst the other handles the child. If you have more than one, there is all the more reason to be able to split up fighting siblings and also if they switch they have a change of scenery albeit a small one. It might not be for you but think about it.
- Have a sense of humour about it! When all fails just remember even the longest flight will be over at some point and you don’t have to see anyone on that plane again.
Lastly, when all of my tricks have worked at least 80% of the time, you will see me doing the mum stride of pride off that plane.