Parenting, Toddlers

Tips on how to survive flying with a devil aka a toddler.

Rachael Brand by Rachael Brand
October 22nd, 2013

I won’t lie to you, I was petrified.

I was consumed by the fact that I had to fly 21 hours with a one year old on my lap. What was I thinking?  I tell you what!  When I booked the flights my only child was three months old.  She was a beautiful blob who would have been very manageable on a 21 hour flight.  Take off, boob, sleep, boob, sleep, boob, land, yay! As a new mum I wasn’t aware of how mobile she would become.  She is now, a one year old. I was in trouble.

Let’s face it, long flights are the pits and to be honest if I wasn’t an adult and didn’t know better I’d cry too. For the two days before the trip I became quite anxious, I was short of breath and felt queazy all the time. So in the interest of my sanity and that of my fellow passengers I decided to do some research.

I had been relying on that fact that my most learned friend in this department would have all the answers. Mumma Google’s been with me right from the start, in fact she was the one who confirmed my pregnancy.  I simply asked ‘sore boobs, tired’ and she responded with a very positive ‘signs you’re pregnant’. Later when I asked ‘six month old baby with black streaks in poo’ she knew straight away that the streaks were banana.  She’s been amazing, BUT I feel with the whole ‘entertaining a baby on a long haul flight’ she’d let me down and quite frankly had lost touch with me and my child. Her tips were lacking and accounted for about 1.5 hours of the trip. DEVO

You’ll be relieved to know that this is a good news story.  We flew a total of 43 hours and we were fine.  I see it a bit like child birth, it’s not awesome but it will end at some point.

In hindsight I think the reason I couldn’t find many practical tips online is because every child is different and you are the best person to know what will or won’t amuse your little one.  But when you’ve got 21 hours to fill anything’s worth a shot, right?

Now that I’ve survived it I’m an expert of course and my biggest tip would be to FLY FIRST CLASS.  You could fit ten babies in one of those seats and not even notice they were there.  If you’re like me and are destined for economy then the most important piece of advice I can give you is to be as prepared as possible, actually be over prepared if for no other reason this will make you feel a little more in control.

Rachel and her fam after they made it!

Rachael and her fam after they made it!

It’s important to think of activities that will amuse your little one for the longest period of time.  Colouring in and magnet books are a winner and a few new small toys to reveal in your time of need can be a good idea. Also, I had an iPad. I’m not proud of the amount of Peppa Pig and Pingu my daughter watched but desperate times call for desperate parenting.  Download many a favourite show before you head off. TV MAR-A-THON!

Once the usual time fillers run thin it’s time to get creative.

–         I filled an old purse of mine with business cards and my little one played with that for a good 45 minutes.

–         I also used the small containers that the food came in for play time.  After I’d eaten I filled them with random objects or snacks.  The whole opening, finding, eating/playing thing went on for a good 30 minutes after each meal.

–         I used the blanket provided by the airline to play hide n seek.  This was our go to game used many times throughout the flight. Where’s Mummy?  Where’s daddy?  Where’s Ginger? Where’s the poor guy sitting next to us?

–         I wore a few bangles on board and they turned out to be great time fillers. Wear bangles.

–         The inflight magazine is also great for them to draw in, rip and destroy.

It’s also important to note that it’s okay if your child cries, they probably will.  Happy noises are fine too, even if the man behind you gives you a few solid kicks in the back to shut you up, you keep singing Old MacDonald’s farm if that’s what’s going to make your child happy.

In a nutshell, it’s a bit shit and you definitely don’t get a lot of time to watch movies and enjoy a cheeky wine or two, but once you feel those tyres hit the ground you’ll feel elated and proud.  You did it and now you’re on holidays!  As much as I hate to quote the hipsters, #YOLO so go for it, get flying and enjoy!

Do you have any other tips for flying mumma’s?