- “No, it is not okay when your child pulls on/kicks the back of my seat.”
- “Sorry, I don’t have much sympathy when your kid throws a tantrum for the umpteenth time and you shrug your shoulders.”
- “It is not cute when you sit there pounding mile-high mojitos while your little one has free reign of the cabin.”
These are the thoughts going through every passenger’s mind when they see a PBB: a “parent behaving badly” (notice I did not write child).
I am a mom of two small kids. We fly about three times a year. Like many others, I’m getting ready to make an annual visit to see the grandparents. Not a flight has gone by where we did not receive at least one compliment from fellow passengers. Like:
- “Such good kids.”
- “I didn’t hear a peep.”
- “What a good flyer you are.”
I don’t think that I was simply blessed with happy travelers (nor do I sedate them). It’s just common courtesy, and it boils down to the fundamental problem of parents who do not parent. On our most recent flight, just the kids and I, my lap child transformed into a squealing, grabby octopus, and the small child, who normally loves technology, decided “nope.” Houston, we had a problem! We trekked on for the next three hours, but in my bag of tricks was everything I need for just such an emergency.
- Was it easy? No.
- Fun? Not for me.
- Did my kids stay quiet enough to not greatly annoy my fellow travelers? Yes.
It came as no surprise when India-based Indigo Airlines established kid-free “Quiet Zones.” Indigo is one of a few other Asia-based airlines following this trend. One might assume as a parent I would be offended by this, but I’m not. Before having kids, I too did not enjoy hearing a child scream on a flight. I swore I would do everything in my power not to be that parent.
Here’s what I’ve learned from dozens of experiences flying with little kids:
1. Choose your seat wisely
Pretty much anywhere on the plane is fine except the very first row. The idea of being close to the lavatory and getting off the plane at first is tempting, but you can’t stow a bag at your feet in this row. Not good, since your bag of tricks is vital.
2. Bring some sort of technology
Yes, I too am on the “too much screen time is bad” bandwagon. But that leaves you with conflicting goals. Your goal on this flight is to keep a kid calm and quiet. We have used technology with my son on an airplane since he was two-and-a-half. Look at it this way: A treat every once in a while is not a bad thing.
3. Bring new little toys
Buy some cheap small toys, wrap them up and pull them out periodically. I have included some links below:
- At the Airport Reusable Sticker Tote (love these)
- Spot it! (best with one kid, 3 and older)
- A piece of bubble wrap
- California Creations
4. Bring snacks
The best snacks are not sticky/crumbly or require a spoon. Also bring a protein bar for yourself, because you cannot be on your A-game when you are hangry!
5. Bring spare clothes
In case of projectile poop or vomit, bring easy-to-pack spare clothes for kids and a spare shirt for you.
6. Bring a “need it now” bag
This is what I call my small, bright-colored, zip-up pouch that is placed inside your bag of tricks in an easy-to-grab spot. This bag contains items that you need now whenever you need them. In my “need it now” bag, I keep painkillers, chapstick, hair rubber band, lotion, hand sanitizer, breath mint, and suckers.
Finally, the really amazing thing is—when you at least attempt to keep your kids occupied—I have found that fellow passengers are fairly forgiving. They will pick up items you drop, play peek-a-boo across the aisle, and might even offer to hold your kid while you go to the lavatory.
Parenting is hard work and exhausting—if you’re doing it right!