Who has ever been scared or fearful getting ready to travel with your kids?
I’ve recently been there myself. The idea of a little rest and relaxation and ditching the cold is great in theory, but then the reality sets in.
There are several emotions of vacation prep:
Elation: Book the vacation… Woo hoo!
Apprehension: Question if it is the right thing. How will my kids sleep? How will we survive the plane ride?
Confidence: Ok, we’ve got this… We are capable parents. Vacation is a good thing. We can do this.
Panic: Holy guacamole! We are going on a 9 hour flight! What are we thinking?
So now that you are actually going to follow through with said trip, you need to:
1. Charge all of your electronics.
In 2016, flying without devices is considered sacrilegious. You can debate all you want about screen time in the upbringing of your kids, but it is written in stone that all rules go out the window when boarding a flight. The more screens, the better when boarding a flight – especially a long one.
2. Fill a carry-on bag just for your snacks.
Do you have enough snacks to feed your kids? Think of feeding the entire plane while you are planning. The more snacks, the better. Did you hear the news that while traveling with kids, it is okay to bring out lollipops while boarding your 7 AM flight? Try to beat my record of giving lollipops out at 5:30 AM after landing from a red-eye. Feel free to have your kids continue to gorge on snacks all flight long. Anything goes. (If you need to feel better, feel free to buy snacks from Whole Foods with words such as “organic” or “Annie’s” on the packaging. That means it has to be healthy, right?)
3. If you have a child who gets motion sick, get ready!
If you have a child with motion sickness, don’t be naive and think this is the flight that your child doesn’t get sick. Trust me – from someone who has a child who has gotten sick on 7 of the last 11 flights – it will not be different this time. It never is. Just make sure that you are prepared to find the little bag in the seat in front of you, and better yet, just open it as soon as you find it. Bring extra wipes for when your friendly neighbor needs to clean up a mess from his shoe.
4. Do you think your child will sleep? Think again.
Sleeping on a plane is an art form. If you have a child that doesn’t fall asleep in the car, don’t expect that they will fall asleep on a plane. Actually, from my experience, they won’t. So as great as a red-eye flight sounds, be prepared for a non-sleeping child (but thankfully to #1 they can watch 4 movies in a row!). An all-nighter is the norm for a college-aged kid, but it’s not so pretty when your child is sleepless at age 4.
5. Expect screaming.
Your child will not be the first nor last person to scream on a plane – take comfort from those other brave parents who have paved the friendly skies before you. It is just fine for your child to cry. I mean, yes, you’d love for them to sit quietly for all 9 of those hours, but it might not happen despite all the screens and snacks you put in front of them. The good news is that passengers have grown to accept that having children around will ruin their flight, so just apologize and move on.
Once you have braved the friendly skies, be very happy that you made it to your destination in one piece. All it takes is the 86 degree sunshine hitting your face (especially when you came from 20 degrees back home) to forget the plane ride and focus on the memories of what will be vacation.
Susie Parker is a mom of 2 beautiful girls who wrote these truths recently while taking a very long flight. She is a Certified Sleep Consultant and founder of Sleep Baby Love, Child Sleep Consulting. If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, download your free sleep guide which is the next best thing to your child coming with an instruction manual.
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