Many businesses like to highlight the fact that children and families are the bane of their existence, none of us would be here without them—and mothers have the biggest consumer spending power in America at the moment. In short, travel companies, from airlines to hotels, should be kissing parental feet if they want to drum up business rather than putting moms (and dads) down. Since they’re not and we still have to travel sometimes, it’s up to us to make our experiences less hectic. Here are a few ways we can attempt that.
Use binkies. If you have a baby, this is such a great way to not only help him or her soothe, but also to keep baby busy and his or her ears protected from painfully popping. Many parents don’t like binkies—myself included—but this might be a reason to make an exception. You could also try breast or bottle on demand during the flight.
Use suckers or bubble gum. If your kids are older, this might help to soothe them while protecting their ears from popping, too.
Have help, if you can. Lots of parents have to travel solo with kids, but if your partner, a friend, or a family member can travel with you as an extra set of hands, let him or her! It will help you so much (unless he or she is not-so-helpful; then don’t!).
Bring plenty to keep the kids busy. One tactic that often works well is to bring along something brand-spanking-new. It might be books, coloring books, toys, a game, whatever; as long as it is new, it’s more likely to hold a child’s interest.
Make sure your children have plenty of snacks—whether it’s from the airline or from home. Better yet, pack some favorite treats in your purse and provide your children with them. My parents always used White Castle shakes to keep us quiet on road trips; perhaps some peanut butter on a plane?
Do anything you know to soothe and calm your child. Does she respond to singing or rocking? Does he enjoy a special stuffed toy or blanket? Bring it along and let him or her relax with it while you travel.
Watch the in-flight movie for kids if they have one (dude, they so should, all of the time). If you have a portable player, feel free to use it if you can.