Enjoy The Flight!
Flying with children and traveling with children make many people break out in a cold sweat. It doesn't have to be that bad, however! With these tips in hand for flying with kids, you should have an easy time and actually (dare we say it?) enjoy the flight and your time away with your kids. Here are tried and true tips from the mother of five boys under nine about how to fly with school age children - and maintain your sanity.
Include Them in the Adventure
Make sure to include your children in your excitement. Even if you are actually very nervous about the flight, make them think that you are excited and that you can't wait to get on the plane with them. Get your children excited to fly - but make sure that they also understand the ground rules. There is no yelling on the plane, no talking across rows, no getting up and down out of the seat all the time, etc. The more excited that they are, and the more that they understand what to expect on the flight, the easier your experience should be.
Set Ground Rules
At the same time, make sure that you are very clear with your children about your expectations. If you are going on a very long flight, and you want your children to sleep, make sure that they understand this. Long flights can be very confusing to kids, and they may not realize that they are expected to sleep. Explain to them the timeline of when you are flying, how long you'll be in the air, and what you'll find acceptable behavior while you are flying.
Give Them the Tools They Need
You can't expect your children to be good on the flight without the proper tools. Let them help you to pack their bag and to include things in it that they will find interesting and acceptable. They should bring reading materials, an IPod, drawing materials, crosswords puzzles, or any other items that will keep them entertained and occupied. Don't rely on the assumption that there will be movies to watch. On our recent flight, which lasted for 14 hours, there wasn't a single movie worth watching.
Give Them Responsibilities
Your school age children can carry their own bags on the flight. Make sure that they are responsible for their carry-on luggage and that it's full of items to occupy their time. You can give them tasks on the plane as well, as necessary. Perhaps one child will retrieve water for you at intervals and another will watch a younger sibling a bit. Make them feel like they are responsible and grown up, and they'll (hopefully!) act that way as well.
Keep Your Sense of Humor
Remember throughout the flight that this time will end. Even though a flight may seem to last a lifetime, it really will end. Your child may have difficult moments, and may get bored on the plane. Try switching activities and recommending various tasks throughout the flight. They can also get up and keep their circulation moving periodically. Above all else, keep your sense of humor intact and remember that you will survive this flight - and hopefully even have fun in the process!