I’ve taken the boys to Florida to see their grandparents two or three times now, and I’m starting to get pretty good at the whole flying solo bit. (Even after Isaiah’s breakdown at LGA earlier today.)
So here’s what I’ve got to share. Feel free to add to the list in the comments–as we all know, it takes a village.
Each child over the age of two carries a backpack
And not just for fun. Inside said backpack is everything the kiddo needs for the flight, including their own diapers/pullups, snacks, toys, electronic devices, books, and art supplies. “You really make your kid carry his own diapers?” Hells yea!
Before the flight, find somewhere — anywhere — for them to run
I love the Tampa airport for the play area that always seems to be deserted in the Blue terminal. (I’m far less afraid of germs than I am of wound-up kids on flight.) But most airports we pass through aren’t so accommodating.
At LaGuardia earlier this week, which is small and crowded, I had no choice but to let them run like maniacs on this window-lined runway.
“That looks dangerous,” I heard a 20-something flight attendant say to her cohort. “Actually, it looks like fun,” he replied. Hey, at least they were contained by that metal bar.
Even on short flights, plan two meals.
Here’s why: your flight may only cross over one meal (i.e. lunch) but you have to consider door-to-door time, not to mention delays. This morning, I fed the boys cereal bars in the car (7am), egg sandwiches at the airport (10am), snacks on the plane (10am-noon), and pbj’s in the car on the way home (1pm). I’ve tried to substitute snacks for meal #2 in the past, and it wasn’t pretty.
Don’t bank on in-flight entertainment.
As much as I love Jet Blue, I’ve planned on their personal television devices for two hours of free babysitting only to have the satellite be out of commission for the entire flight.
So plan for backup entertainment. And no, that does not mean math worksheets and Arthur books. It means a full-charged iPhone loaded with at least one of their favorite movies and some new apps. You can save your super mom business for when your feet are on the ground.
You can actually pee alone.
Just look around for a grandmotherly type and ask her if she can sit with your little darlings while you run to the lav. I’ve never had anyone say no. Ok, you’re leaving your kids with a complete stranger, but how much harm can they do in full view of everyone else, in a highly screened, closely monitored environment? And even if your kid gets a little freaked out (mine haven’t, FYI), it’s a hell of a lot better than them touching everything in sight in those filthy filthy airplane bathrooms. (And you do know not to ever use the airplane bathroom sink, right?)
Have someone in charge give them a little scare.
I’m deeply proud of the fear I’ve instilled in my children when it comes to officers of the law. Which as far as I’m concerned includes security guards, flight attendants, cashiers, and anyone wearing anything close to a uniform.
Earlier today, Isaiah launched into a Category 5 tantrum because he wanted to sit in the single stroller occupied by his younger brother. The tantrum lasted from our gate all the way down to baggage claim, where our car service driver was nowhere to be found.
Exhausted, crowded, and faced with trying to pull 3 overstuffed suitcases off the conveyor belt while keeping an eye on the stroller, my way too heavy tote, and a child who was flailing on the ground, I had no choice but to pull out the big guns. As a security guard passed by, I pretended to be scared. Isaiah immediately sat up to see what was up. “Police officer,” I whispered. And the guard played along! He got a really mean face (a bit too mean, actually), and said, “LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.” Problem solved. Mister tantrum piped down.
So that’s what I’ve got. How about you?