Our Resident Stay at Home Dad – Flying with Kids
And so it was that we found ourselves heading to Europe for our first international family holiday. There was no doubting the intention – we had a fantastic wedding to attend, some close relatives to meet and introduce #firstborn to…
But being a SAHD (Stay At Home blah blah) who likes to keep things relatively calm and on track, the prospect of four intercontinental flights filled me with dread. Which was not the ideal preparation.
So after trawling through a million websites dedicated to ‘flying with kids/ babies/ toddlers/ small demons’ I thought I would distill all that advice (so much advice) into my top-8 tips.
I think mainly it’s in the preparation. Simple enough, right?
But it applies to everything from timing your departures and arrivals well to knowing exactly what is packed and WHERE THE HELL IT IS PACKED. Sometimes you are literally trying to keep a small person busy for a minute at a time, so the more weapons in the arsenal, the better. My advice:
1. I love it when a plan comes together
If possible, setup your departures and arrivals to minimise wasted time at either end. For example try to get some flights that kids can sleep on, and remember it is a lot easier to arrive with a room to check into.
2. When in doubt, feed the beast
Set aside what your child would eat normally, then add significant amounts of snacks. #firstborn is a big fan of snacks (predominantly healthy ones.. ha ha.. oh hi Mums) so we made sure we always had more than required at hand. Airline food can be ok, but is never the greatest (incidentally this goes for adult airline food too).
3. Addicted to bass(inet seats)
These are great for two reasons. One being your child can obviously sleep – depending on height and weight restrictions (which vary for each airline) and also according to comfort levels (yes, I’m looking at you BA). Two, it gives an excellent little play area at your feet for toys, snacks, and extra blankets. Try to book bassinets when purchasing, and call again a few weeks out to confirm.
4. Screentime? Good luck.
When #firstborn was set for his first 11 hour flight, he could look at a screen for a about a minute before getting bored*. Much more interesting was the TV remote, and how it was attached, seat recline buttons, pictures of the plane in the safety information (“Look buddy they’re dancing!”) and some little packages of food.
*(Additional tip for free: if your baby is trying to sleep in your lap, turn your screen off. Yes, it keeps your baby awake. Yes, your baby is keeping everyone else’s baby awake. Yes, you – get in the game man FFS. Yes, I’m looking at you man in seat 64D Hong Kong- London.)
5. Is that a dinosaur in your pocket…
You’ll read a lot on preparing little toys to break up the flight. When this really works is during the 30 minutes of landing time when #firstborn is attached to your seatbelt and wanting to be free, as he was for the last 10 hours. Pulling out a tiny wind up dinosaur from my pocket (cost: $1.99, value: priceless) saved us a tonne of angry child. At least three times.
6. Find the good hostie
There will generally be at least one, who has some understanding of what you are going into.They may bring some extra food (or wine, thanks Qantas) alter the meal times if your baby is sleeping, be prompt with milk heating, and so on.
7. Pram jam
Just take it. Perfect for sleeping/ sitting/ containing a little person. We debated long and hard on whether to take it, but can tell you it is definitely a must.
8. Pack smart
Pack food in one area and make it easy to see what is what. Make nappies and wipes easy to access in another area. Keep toys at hand as well, in another area. And share your packing technique with your other half, reducing the need for the unwanted hissing of “YES BUT WHERE DID YOU PUT IT” when the little one gets up and going.
9. Book smart
I’m an enormous fan of having a separate room for #firstborn to go to sleep in. Not necessarily his own bedroom when travelling, but it at least means you aren’t ALL going to bed at 7pm local time because you are in the one, open, hotel room. Look hard and you’ll find off-peak serviced apartments that work really well.
10. Sometimes the hardest thing…
Relax. Be flexible. It will never go 100% according to plan. But if you relax, they might. Besides, look at all the planning you’ve done!
(Photo credit: MA1974 via flickr)