Flying with children...
dun dun dunnnnnn.
You are going on a vacation, somewhere exciting. Exciting enough to bring your beloved offspring. I know you want to make the plane ride easy and uneventful. We all do. Especially Mr. Grumpy pants sitting in front of you.
Here are some helpful hints:
#1 Do NOT load them up with sugar. I know you think this will appease them and it will, until the sugar rush kicks in. Then you are in for a bumpy ride regardless of turbulence! Their seatbelt won't seem to want to stay on, the tray table now holds some sort of unique fascination. Putting it up, slamming it down, putting it up, slamming it down. Armrests will not go unnoticed. They will also kick the seat and watch in wonder as the man's head in front of them bobbles back and forth as they do all three at the same time. The Skymall magazine will become confetti and their once angelic voice will rise to a decibel that muffles even the loudest airplane engine as they start asking questions. Lots of questions. The book you were hoping to read or the nap you were hoping to take will be a long lost fantasy.
Instead pack healthy food, preferably something that isn't sticky, stinky and doesn't crumble into a thousand tiny pieces. Airlines rarely carry food anymore. No food equals no utensils. Pack smart.
#2 Bring them something to do. Playing cards like Uno and Go Fish, coloring books, books to read, a video game, a dvd player (with the batteries fully charged). Remember to bring headphones, as much as your son loves the sound of Elmo's laugh, it's not amusing to us all.
#3 Bring a carseat. Most of us use car seats on a daily basis and kids have gotten used to them. It's like their little nest. If they are under two, you don't even have to purchase a ticket for them (providing the flight has empty seats), but bring a car seat anyway. Maybe you will get lucky, there will be an empty seat and you will get to use it. Your life will be so much better and they know what to expect. It's like built in bondage for the wee ones.
#4 Monkey see, Monkey do. If you get up when the seatbelt sign is on, they will too. If you make that one last call as the plane is pushing back, Ding! on goes their game boys. Little Susie and Little Johnny are watching you. They are ALWAYS watching you. Be respectful of the rules and so will they.
#5 Clean up your row!
Kids are messy and gross, I know, I have them. From wiping boogers on their bedroom walls to not changing their underwear for days on end... I do not expect any parent to clean up after their kids at home. You can live in total squalor for all I care (I won't be coming over) But on an aircraft, or any public place for that matter, it is your duty! Please don't look sheepish while walking off the plane and apologize for the mess... JUST CLEAN IT. All those crackers, cheerios, banana peels, dirty diapers, snot rags, wet wipes.... get rid of it when the flight attendant comes by one out of the 100 times to collect trash. Don't shrug your shoulders and dismiss the mess like no one will notice. One of these days an edgy flight attendant on her last day will most likely chase you out into the terminal and embarass you in front of everyone announcing what a pig your family is! Mark my words people. Don't let it happen to you.
#6 Be the parent! Do not ask the flight attendant to tell your kid what to do b/c your own child won't listen to you. This is just sad. You are the one in control, act like it. The key is to be consistent. When a parent doesn't want to put a child in their own seat with a seatbelt b/c the child will cry.. I say "who cares?!" You will most likely never see these other passengers again. Your child's safety should be your number one concern.
Airplanes are amazing. The mechanics of it boggles my mind, but let's not forget that unexpected things can happen. Be it clear air turbulence, careening off the runway, hitting a flock of birds or crashing. This is the reason we have so many rules and regulations coming from departments with acronyms like the FAA, TSA, FAMs and the NTSB.
Wow! That got really heavy for a second. Just remember, the flight attendants and the airlines do not make this stuff up as we go along. We are doing it because we have to to keep you and your loved ones safe. That's what we get paid to do.
Just do what we say and nobody gets hurt! *smile*