Airports inevitably involve a lot of waiting around – waiting to check in, waiting to clear security, waiting to board – and with small kids in tow, this can be a challenge, especially if jet-lag and sleep deprivation come into the equation.
Here are some tips for keeping small children happy and parents sane, including strategies if you hear those dreaded words – flight delay.
- Know your airport: Many airports now have soft play areas or children’s playgrounds. These are an absolute godsend. Even the most basic of play areas will keep the little ones entertained for some time. If you are lucky, they may even find some playmates, so you can put your feet up and snatch some quiet time.
- Don’t let hunger strike: Tired and hungry is the perfect storm for big meltdowns. Keep them fed and watered! Small snacks and the occasional treat if required will help keep the ‘hangry’ at bay. Even better, make the hunt for food an adventure (see next point).
- Adventure time: To small children, airports are wondrous places to be explored in great detail. Make the most of this novel environment – be it climbing all over a leg massage machine; hopping on a baggage scale; or playing ‘spot the red suitcase’. Even a trip to the loo can fill a good 15 minutes if done right – it never ceases to amaze me how long my daughter can take to wash her hands and play with the hand drier.
- Crashed out: Be ready for sleep – exhausted little ones will (eventually) conk out. Be prepared, unless you want to be lugging a dead weight around for the next two hours. Some, but not many, airports will loan you a pushchair. I think this is a time that baby carriers come into their own. They keep your little one snuggled up and sleeping – freeing up your hands for that much needed cup of coffee.
- Be the last onto your plane: Although airlines offer to board families with young children first, the prospect of an additional 30 minutes on that plane is not something I wish to endure – particularly when boarding the larger planes can take so long. Make the most of the time at the gate to wear them out before the flight. Final call is your cue to get on.
So you are the last people on the plane, and are preparing for the long flight ahead. Now what?! Check out my top tips for a stress free flight.