5 survival tips for flying with little ones

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year old daughter Viva, who had to be duct taped to her seat by the passengers and flight crew.

If there’s anything worse than flying, it’s flying with children, especially if the children are your own. Flying with your kids is one of those dreadful sacraments you’ll almost inevitably face, like paying for your child’s braces, college or bail. Unfortunately, the only thing worse than flying with kids is driving with them, so you might as well board the plane.

Here are a few survival tips you’ll definitely want to consider:

Fly only to Orlando and in the middle of the day

If you’re leaving O’Hare and headed to Orlando, and it isn’t the crack of dawn or the dark of night, the plane is going to be lousy with kids in Elsa and BB-8 T-shirts headed south to that delightful oasis of corporate magic: Disney World. The odds that YOUR kid will be the worst behaved one on the flight are slim. Most of the moppets will be either screaming with joy or screaming with annoyance, but anyway you slice it, you’ll be in an airborne prison full of iPads, stuffed animals and screaming. Everyone will be so preoccupied with being embarrassed by their own monstrous offspring that they will not notice yours.

Go old school and high tech

If you get on a plan without the 21st-century parent’s crutch – the tablet computer – you’re in for some problems. Download new apps and appisodes and appistractions. Bring headphones, though if you forget them, you’ll never hear the Doc McStuffins games over your kids questions and angry outcries.

Just in case the battery dies or they get tired of the tablet (and they will), bring the old distractions from your own youth: non-coloring books, travel games, an abacus, little lead figurines, cigarettes … whatever we used to pass the time in the ’70s and ’80s.

Stuff your child like a Christmas goose

Air travel is like a metaphor for life – all of us, packed too closely together, breathing the same air, hurtling inevitably towards the end. Plus, the bathrooms are smelly. How do we, as adults, contend with life and air travel? By anesthetizing ourselves with food and drinks. Generally, you should do the same with your child. Maybe not the alcohol part, though you’re going to have friends give you lots of folksy, homespun advice, like, “My pappy always gave us a thimble full of bourbon, and we were out like a light.” Well, sure, Jethro, you could also duct tape your child’s mouth and put them in a checked bag, but it’s illegal and a bad idea.

Do keep plenty of biological comforts, remedies and distractions, though. Snacks, snacks, snacks, juice, water, etc. Plus, the more times you have to bring them to the bathroom, the closer you are to landing.

Make up games

What is a family vacation without made-up games? Here’s a few to try:

  • Identify the Air Marshall
  • Name that Smell
  • Mock the Regional Accents
  • Which Items Have Shifted During Flight?
  • How Many Upper Respiratory Infections Will We Have Tomorrow?

Remember that you already paid your dues

Think back – how many screaming babies, barfing toddlers and seat-kicking children have you sat next to in your life? You paid for this in advance! Other passengers must tolerate your child’s execrable behavior on this flight because it is your turn, nay, your RIGHT as an adult. As you suffered, so shall they suffer. And someday, your children shall suffer and their children shall make others suffer. To paraphrase a Disney property: It’s the circle of flight.

Bon Voyage, Parents! If none of the above works, remember, a flight is only a few hours and a fraction of your trip. There is much more trying family time to come before you return home to your miserable job.

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