Ahhh Thanksgiving and Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Its easy to ENJOY that season from the warmth of your own home, but its so easy to loose the joy when you are stuck in traffic, stuck in a stuffy airplane on the tarmac for 2 hrs (true story) or running NEVER ENDING ERRANDS. Ive done my fair share of traveling having lived all of my married life away from family. I have traveled with one child while pregnant, two children both under 17 months and most recently with three CHILDREN. All. By. My. Self.
1. Movies. Ok, so even though I was that Mom that was all “My kid is not watching more than a half hr of TV”, because that was one of my many distorted views of what made me a good or bad mom, when my eldest was 12 months, a travel DVD player with Elmo really made my flight so much easier. At that time I had a travel DVD player which was bulky and took up alot of space between the player itself and the DVD’s I had to take with me. Nowadays I am a super cool Mom with an iPad and a new Amazon Fire HD, which I love for its multiple user settings, time allotments for games and books and not having to worry about them reaching inappropriate content on the internet.
I download new videos and games prior to our trip. We sit down, have each child pick a couple movies and a few games and books to view on the device and Ive just bought myself at least an hr of uninterrupted, quiet airplane bliss for everyone. If you cant afford a bunch of new movies, you can always RENT them, which I think is super for those random trips throughout the year where Frozen for the 1,736,937 time is not going to hold their attention.
2. The second flight I took with my daughter and son by myself, my oldest daughter was only 18 months but I had what I think was a GENIUS idea. The Melissa and Doug Paint With Water pages came packed in our carry-on that trip. I knew it was either going to work beautifully or there’d be a multi-colored mess when we left. I kept it a secret that I even had it with me (another good tip-because surprises make everything more exciting!) and pulled it out after asking the airplane stewardess for half a glass of water. We whipped out the attached paint brush and let her pick out a page. I think she painted 5 each way! The best thing is they are super cheap and affordable entertainment. Find them here. Use Wipes for a quick and easy clean-up
3. The third flight we went on, she was a little older- just over 2 and she was textile enough to be able to handle her first little mosaics. We went with ALEX Toys – Early Learning, My First Mosaic, 1414
and they were lots of fun. She did not necessarily put them all where they were supposed to go, but she enjoyed putting them on a piece of hobby wood like these. We used markers on them first and then put the mosaics jewels on top and left them as a present when we left Grandma’s.
4. For the littlest of traveling hands, NEW (or new to him/her) toys are a MUST HAVE. Something she has never seen or held that can easily be attached and removed from the car seat is great. My daughter loved her new Infantino Jittery Pals – Lion that we got her. It kept her easily entertained. New colors, new noises, done!
5. Stickers and paper. I always carry a folder with Birth Certificates and baggage claim tickets for my strollers in one side and coloring paper and stickers in the other flap. ‘Nuff said.
6. Crayola Color Wonder. I really just think that the inventor of these magical markers and paper should really just be made KING OF SOMETHING. Someone buy that gentlemen some Chick-Fil-A. I mean, on the days that I’ve found my walls covered in crayon and pencil (bless their little hearts) I really wonder why I don’t use these sweet thangs more often. Bless. You. Color Wonder. Bless You.
7. Patience and Alcohol. Just kidding on that last part, but seriously, half the battle is your attitude. Bring along a list of Nursery Rhymes if you don’t know any and make those little clones giggle there cute little heads off. There is no shame in doing “The Chicken Dance” in your seat if it keeps them happy. Interactive songs like “Where is thumbkin” and “5 Little Monkeys” are super entertaining and encourage your child to take part, keeping their little hands busy and their little brains thoroughly distracted enough to keep them from picking up the moldy grape smooshed just in between the seat crevices. “Slippery Fish” away my friends.
8. For kids under 4, I highly recommend Flash Cards. My kids LOVED telling me what was on each card. Especially when I triple-dog-daired-them to beat me to the punch in saying what it was! This set by Playskool inlcudes 4 different flash cards sets- Alphabet, First Words, Shapes/Colors and Numbers. We also came up with our own improvised version of go fish, guessing who had which cards. Love.
9. Before we set foot on an airplane we took a trip to the Dollar Store and I let the kids both pick out something to small to play with. They paid for it on “their own” and we put it in the backpacks for the trip. I think this works best between ages 3-5. We got it out only when we were seated on the plane and our other options were worn out. The forgotten anticipation made their dollar store toy that much more exciting!
10. Snacks, snacks and more snacks. I pack little individual baggies of snacks for each kid. I try to keep it healthy. I throw in squeezies (squeezable fruit and veggies or applesauce packets) apple slices, string cheese and a banana. I also throw a ring pop in there for good behavior. Generally though, I try to keep everything low in sugar and mostly only naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruits. You have NO IDEA how much time you can fill with food until you’ve sat in an airplane with three small children. I’m not saying to overfill those bellies, but to choose wisely what snacks you bring. Things that take time to eat and things that are healthy. The last thing you want is your kids “all jacked up on mountain dew”. 🙂