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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tips on how to keep your child or children entertained at the airport or on the plane during the busy Holiday travels

The Holidays can be a frantic busy time as it is. Through my travels with my four kids I have through trial and error found some easy ways to keep them occupied and busy when at the airport or on that long plane ride.
It begans with the whine and the ..anticipated.......statement of "I'm bored"

 The essential items: 

1. I believe in electronics "many" electronics for older kids...anything to keep them busy and occupied.

 For example...portable DVD player, Ds, ipod, zune, Kindle, ipad, netbook. No one wants to have to hear a bored or winy kid when on the airplane. Especially the person sitting in front or behind you that keeps turning around and glaring because he or she looks at you like you are an alien because there was NO reason to bring kids on a plane.

(Note: This is for "busy and occupied" on a plane or at airport, or even in long car ride trips...not for regular everyday activities. I try and limit the time normally at home)

2. Make sure to have secret toys that you have bought beforehand that you leave in your carry on for that   ultimate moment or hour of need.

Either new toys that your child has never seen before or that you think your child would like. Or maybe that toy that your child had pointed out at the store that he or she really really wants.
Things like polly pockets, squinkies (they are little toys of animals and people inside plastic balls that you can hand one out every once in a while) that even my older kids think are cute, cars, small lego to build, calico critters, small puzzles, stickers with small note pad, or any other small portable toys.

 3. Have a plan of attack.

We all know it. That  moment when your child lets out a blood curtailing wale or begins a tantrum. If its too late and the tantrum has started remember to take 3 deep breathes and slowly pick up your child and go for a walk. Sometimes just a change of scenery will cool the savaged beast. Also if you walk to the galley (on the plane) some airlines have snacks readily available or kits for kids for just these instances. Or I remember when my children were babies I would walk them to the bathroom and just sit in front of the mirror for a few minutes and play peek a boo or turn on the water and splash it around. Sometimes this is all you need to distract them.This will work on the plane or in the airport.

. Now the hard thing...If you are stuck in your seat because your about to land.or take off...maybe this is the time to bring out the secret hidden gummy bears, gum or suckers. If you are health conscious you can pick up fruit juice sweetened suckers, or gummy bears I have seen them at Whole foods, and PCC.

4. Remember to always tell the people that you are sitting near you "Sorry" would be amazed how many really nice people I have met who turn around and tell me a story about when their kids were little, or they say "ooh its ok..dont worry."

5. Have these items readily available for the dragging minutes waiting in the airport or on the plane.

A sketchbook or pad of plain paper, markers, light paperback books, uno or other card games, disposable camera so they can take pictures of things they see at the airport or on the plane, gum, gummy bears, mentos, snacks, crackers, carrot sticks, veggie chips, etc... whatever favorite snacks your child would like.
My kids like to visit the magazine racks at the airport. I let them each pick their own out to read on the plane.

6. Keep in mind that children are curious.

I always try and make every situation a learning process for a child. If you are at the airport and your two year old is crawling all over you and beginning to scale the walls. Why not take them to the window and show them the planes. Talk about... how big the plane is, "What color is it ?"," How many wheels does it have?" "oh!.. is that food going onto that plane?" "Or wow!" "look at all the suitcases..lets count them." "Are they going on the plane fast or slow?" These questions will not only be a good distraction, but a practice in thinking and communication skills.

7. Last but not least, for ears popping bring gum or mentos. For babies or toddlers make sure to try and give them crackers, a bottle, or juice cup. This will alleviate pain from the change in pressure on the plane.

One more hint. I have six in my family. When I book a flight and pick seats.  I usually try and pick the seating arrangement to be in either in threes on sides of plane, and put youngest children in back of older children. So you don't have the kicking the seat or yelling in someones ear problem (at least its to your own family), Or if the plane has rows of twos I put youngest children in middle and older kids and adults in front and back of them. This builds a buffer for other annoyed passengers.

Also another trick to keep kids occupied is to frequently switch seats. It will seem like musical chairs but believe me, it helps in the long run. This is of course having your youngest children stay in the buffer zone.

I hope some of these hints will help. Believe me I know what its like to have a cranky child on a plane or at the airport. Its taken me years and many flights to compile this list. I know there is always times when nothing works. Children are ever changing beings. This is what makes them so lovable. My thinking is as a parent, just to try to breathe and remember you will probably never see these people again.
                                                                       And SMILE!

On our way to our first trip to Europe 2008

Mistake of bringing backpacks instead of suitcases first trip.

Lucky this  flight had built in screens with movies, tv shows, and video games.
It even had a screen you could choose that showed you exactly where you were in the flight with a
map while flying. How long you had left to get to your destination, and weather, and time zones.
This was a wonderful thing!

This was February 2011. Seasoned travelers by then. Third trip traveling to Europe with kids.
With many smaller trips in united states in between.
I actually went without my husband this time to visit friends and family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great ideas that I have seen work first hand. Gernot