How to fly with small children without killing yourself or others

air travel with two small kids

Flying with Small Children was originally posted October 2014

Ok I’m a couple days off of a flight with a six month old and a 2 year old. Flying with small children is scary. I was really nervous about taking this flight but I had to do it alone. My mother or John couldn’t come down with me so I had to do it solo. It was a short notice flight so I didn’t have much time to prepare but here are the tips that I have for you to make travel with multiple small children easier… and avoid suicide… or homicide.

Give Fair Warning

Let your kids know exactly what to expect and when.

I didn’t have much advance notice about this trip, but once I knew, I started notifying Rohan. I let him know we were going on a plane, where we were going, who we would see, and how the travel day would go. I kept it light and fun so he could get excited about going to “Frorduh.” A couple times a day we would talk about the upcoming trip so no surprises and no toddler meltdown.

baby on board

Time It Right

Don’t book a flight that conflicts with your children’s nap times or usual cranky times (tired/hungry/hyper) if you can help it.

I took a 6am flight. I knew there was a high chance Kaya would sleep most of the way (she didn’t) and Roey would be calm and relaxed (he wasn’t) Luckily Roey woke up on the right side of the toddler bed that morning and was sweet, even though full of energy. Kaya was a squirmy energizer bunny, but she’s still small enough to contain fairly easily.

Distractions Are Key

Have a lot of tricks up your sleeve, toys/activities/games, and backup tricks/toys/activities/games.

Redirecting Roey’s energy when he’s in a good (or decent) mood is fairly easy. I can just do a loud exaggerated gasp, and he’ll look at me expectantly….while I quick think up something to say to get his mind off of whatever loop it was on before. Sometimes my brain stalls out on me and I come up with like “GASP!!….where is your nose?” But hey, it works. When he’s in antsy mode, or weird energy mode like he was for a part of this flight, it’s a bit harder, I had to have a lot more than just a gasp on hand.

flying with babies

In my carry-on was:

  • tons of snacks
  • books (including his favorite)
  • elmo of course
  • many, many vehicles (given one at a time over the course of the journey)
  • 3 different earphones (because one of them had to be the “right” ones)
  • sunglasses (because he’s obsessed right now)
  • a blanket (for our tent city game)
  • kindle (for me)
  • 2 sippy cups (because “i dont want water, i want milk, i don’t want milk, I want water” happens too often)

When Ro got too fidgety, or seemed bored or annoyed we tried toys, but we ended up playing games more often. Word games, and “can you fix this?” were the most popular. Having a bag of tricks kept Roey out of crank-mode, and kept me feeling somewhat sane.

For Kaya I had a bottle with cereal mixed in, teething toys, her soft dolly, a blanket so she could come to tent city too, and a million bibs.

toddler on the plane

Pack Some Patience & A Good Attitude

Air travel is annoying for adults and children alike. A good attitude helps to make it go down easy.

I tried to have a woo sah experience. Focusing my energy on managing Roey’s happiness was a good way to keep my attitude in check. He took the most deliberate, slow, tiny steps, stopping at almost every row to look back at me for no reason, aaaallll the way down the aisle to our seat (far toward the back, sadly) while mama is behind him with a heavy carryon, and a baby strapped to her. It would’ve been nice to just pick him up and throw him to 23A, but I just had to take a deep breath and gently encourage him to hurry his ass up.

Kaya deciding to wait until I changed her mid-flight, to take the most massive poop ever taken, could have pissed me off…. Okay, it did piss me off, but what could I do but change her again (while Roey said “Kaya poopoop that’s gross ha ha” on a loop the entire time) and keep it movin.

Oh, and this happened intermittently throughout the entire flight. Gee, I wonder if he was tired…..

Don’t Forget About You

Eat and Drink something! Healthy Mommy = Happy Kids Caffeinated Mommy = Unmurdered Kids

OK that’s dramatic, but I did notice a larger bandwidth for annoyance after I had that 3rd cup of coffee (#judgemeifyawanna) and finished my muffin. I also chugged two bottles of water, and although I had to pee like the dickens, I felt much more capable of making it through the flight alive. Also, I had my kindle on hand in the event the kids slept, so I could catch up on some reading (if I didn’t end up sleeping myself.)

Get Lucky

And pray. Pray they both don’t have a meltdown at the same time.

Gotta say, I was internally beaming at the end of the flight when people were saying how “good” the kids were…. I know what they really meant was “quiet.” Even though, at one point Rohan screamed “WE ARE NOT FINISHED FLYING YET!” (I cringed and was waiting for someone to jump bad so I could check them…) but a few people just chuckled. I was lucky to have a nice group of people nearby. The dude near us said “He’s right. We’re not finished.” I was also lucky to not have a passenger in the seat in front of Ro, because opening, closing and “fixing” the tray table was big fun for a good 25 minutes.

After staying up the whole flight, we get into the truck and immediately……

toddler sleeping in car seat

Thank goodness I packed that good attitude 😉

What are your tips for a solo parent traveling with multiple small children?


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  1. Brenda Haines says

    You’re a braver mom than most! I now some women who can’t even handle the grocery store with their kids in tow. I love your tips and how honest you are about it all. 🙂

  2. Rana Durham says

    i love this idea your littles ones are so cutte . thanks for sharing, i think this will help out alot of moms and dad to have successful trip

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