Flying with small children
Our first venture onto a plane was when our 3 1/2 year old was just 8 months old. She was brilliant. She sat in my lap, had her milk on take-off, fell asleep for the entire 2 hour flight and woke for her milk on landing. A breeze.
The second trip was when she was almost 2. She was still at the stage of sitting on my lap but a bit more fidgety. She had a little cry when we got onto the plane and decided she wanted to sit on daddy's lap. Unfortunately we hadn't booked extra legroom seats so it was very cramped and he couldn't even contemplate putting the tray table down! I did and set up the portable DVD player we had purchased from Tesco for under £50 (bargain) and put on the first of her well loved films. Headphones on her head and she settled down straight after take-off to watch her films for almost the entire 2 hour flight. A good sticker book and some crayons sorted out the bit when she had had enough of watching the DVDs. Another flight sorted. On the return journey we had been given extra legroom seats and it made all the difference. For starters, hubby could eat the meal that was provided as on the way out he simply laughed when the flight attendant offered it to him as there was nowhere to put it!
The latest trip was with her being 3 1/2 and the youngest at 16 months. Now, the youngest is hard work at the best of times. Don't get me wrong, she is very cute but she has a raging temper and is in the terrible 2's already (someone forgot to tell her she has another 8 months to wait until she is 2!!). We knew this would be a tough 2 hour flight (do you see a pattern in the flight times for this age group?). We had decided to pre-book extra legroom seats for us all so she had some kicking space should she have one of her moments. Anyway, we had bought her some headphones and got her used to using them with her sister by putting the DVD player on at the table for them a few times when they had lunch. Yeah, I know, rubbish parenting but trust me, needs must!
She settled to watch Tangled which lasted about 20 minutes before she got bored. A quick swap of DVD to Gnomeo & Juliet and she was hooked for another 20-30 mins. I was counting the time down. A further swap and another 20 minutes went by then a quick look at the inflight magazines, a few torn pages, pointing and naming everything and another 10 minutes of DVD and we were landing. I should mention that all of this was interspersed with bribary food - Organics puffs, KitKat, orange juice, more puffs, more KitKat, some Pringles and some more KitKat. Yes, yes, a terrible diet but hey, it was for 2 hours out of her life and the rest of the flight never knew she was on there!
The flight back was about the same. Many puffs and KitKat pieces were consumed by her, along with another set of Pringles and some Maltesers, whilst her big sister was happy to just colour and watch the DVD occasionally. She didn't need the bribary. However, up until the last 10 minutes of the flight little one was fine. We descended quite quickly so her ears clearly started to hurt and she had a good cry and bit of a scream about it but I decided not to worry about that as I considered the rest of the passengers had got away lightly!
So, my advice if you're flying with children - forget the normal household rules. Take bribary foods and items, invest in a portable DVD player for younger children and get some fun DVDs that they love, buy a few sticker books and some colouring pencils you won't mind losing when they fall down and roll under the seats. Most of all, have fun. Even if they play up, you are doing you best and people will just have to put up with it I'm afraid. Let's face it, how many of us have had the kiddie kicking the back of the chair or putting the tray up and down for most of a flight when we were childless, young and free - yep, my hand is up!