Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flying with a "Small"

In honor of Kelly's upcoming visit (now only TWO weeks away!), thought I'd write about flying with a toddler-- since she's braving the friendly skies on her own with a tot in tow.

As you know, last January, the three of us took our first "real family vacation" Arizona.  (Sweet!)  Of course, we only had a few days away from work so this meant flying on an airplane with a 23 month old.  (Sweet!)  At the time, my 23 month old had about ZERO interest in movies /dvds/ tv programs/ etc.  (Sweet?)  And since I've flown on a few airplanes in my life, I was having anxiety over flying with a toddler weeks before we even packed our bags. (This, coupled with the fact that I HATE flying on airplanes made me more anxious than I already am.)

So, in typical Karah style, I prepared for the worst and set my expectations extremely super low.  And I literally packed an arsenal full of toddler 'boredom busters' for that flight.  Looking back, there were five things that we used throughout the flight-- that made it such a success.  In fact, when our plane returned in Iowa, the man sitting across the aisle said to me, "You two did an amazing job with that little guy.  It was really fun to watch you.  I'm a retired teacher-- taught for 36 years in Decorah.  Looks like you would be a great teacher."  (I had to give him a wink at that comment-- yes sir, I've had a wee bit experience in the elementary school setting) But it always makes us parents warm and tingly inside when someone compliments our kid's behavior right?  So what went inside this arsenal that made it so successful?  Well, let's take a peek:  

#1.  Books. Books. More Books.  I tried to put as many "soft" books as possible since I had to carry this bag after all.  The best ones for the flight were tiny ones that he could hold himself, and books that we could look through together and try to find things.  (C really loves the I Spy books right now)

#2.  Play Doh.   Yes, we are those people.  Play Doh is messy.  And I know sooooooo many parents who claim to barely ever let their kids play with the squishy stuff because it's a pain in the arse to clean up.  But to me, I'm all for semi-quiet entertainment even if it means I have to crawl around on the dirty airplane floor for awhile picking up miniscule pieces of clay.  (Or maybe I accidently forgot that some of it dropped on the floor.  oops.)

#3. Plastic Animals.  We packed the small ones and then had them go on some little adventures in the seats of the plane.  They had snack, they had a race on the drop-down table thingy, and they had a nap.  (And then we drew a barn with markers and made blankets out of play doh) 

#4. Color Wonder Markers/ Paper.  Oh my brilliance! I had no idea this product even existed before searching for items to put in my arsenal.  What an awesome invention!  Basically, these are special markers that only show up on special paper.  They work the same-- just aren't as bright as regular markers.  But if you drop them without the cap or realize that you've been sitting on one for the entire plane ride (hypothetically, of course) nobody will know you've been so irresponsible!  

#5.  Magna Doodle.  C's aunt gave him a small Magna Doodle for Christmas and it has been one of our go-to toys forever.  We actually keep it in the car because it's so easy for him to manipulate on his own.  When we were on the plane, we played a game called, "Charlie tells Mommy and Daddy what to draw and they try to convince him that they (successfully) drew it." (Sometimes this led to debate practice-- "That not look like horse." "Yes it does. See? These are the legs." "No, those not look like legs.  That NOT look like horse." "Yes, it IS a horse.  See?  Here's a tail." etc. etc.)    

And a little bonus item for that nasty ear pressure: Skittles.  C hadn't really had a lot of candy before that ride, and I was nervous he would choke and die but thankfully that didn't happen.  And when the chewy Skittles didn't work, we just practiced roaring like a lion, tiger, or bear and that seemed to do the trick.  :) 

And, because we spent so much time utilizing the above items, we didn't even have to break out our friendly little red trump card:

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