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When we went to Madrid a couple of weeks ago the number one item on my list of things to worry about was flying with two young kids. I’m a nervous flyer at the best of times and I was convinced that Elfie would run riot through the aisles of the plane and Hux would scream his way through the flight.
I was completely wrong; it was actually a relaxing and enjoyable experience. This might have a little to do with my in-flight mini bottles of wine but the kids were as good as gold too. Here’s how I prepared to make it as pain-free as possible:
Talk about planes. For months we’ve been playing with toy planes with Elfie, pointing them out in the sky and watching the plane episode of Peppa Pig (Captain Emergency? Best pilot name EVER). By the time we got to Luton airport she was almost beside herself with excitement at seeing all the airplanes and so plane watching was how we spent that awkward bit of time between checking in and boarding. She loved looking out the window at takeoff and landing, doing up the seatbelt and reading the emergency card. As soon as we had landed in Madrid she said “more?”.
Pack new toys. We used to have a dog called Oscar and every time Will and I would pack for a weekend away he would sense something was going on, becoming clingy and anxious. Elfie’s just like Oscar in this respect so I wanted to make sure she was excited rather than nervous at what was happening. Due to her all-encompassing love for everything Peppa Pig I bought a Peppa backpack and filled it with new books and a couple of toys for the flight, including a small notebook, pens and stickers. We gave it to her a couple of hours before leaving and strutting around with her new bag helped her take her mind of anything else that was going on, and emptying the bag of toys on the plane generated lots of excitement. I’m a big fan of the £2 kid’s magazines you can buy for this purpose because they cover all bases: stickers, games and stories.
iPad. I have lost count of the amount of times my life has been saved by the iPad. Pre-flight I made sure it was loaded up with episodes of Peppa Pig along with Elfie’s favourite apps: the Talking Teddy Bear and Spot the dog Books. I pulled it out at the times she was a little bored of her stickers.
Food and Feeding. Neither Hux nor Elfie seemed to have trouble with their ears during takeoff and landing but I’d brought dummies with me just in case (for Elfie) and was prepared to feed Hux during this time to combat the funny ear feeling. We also bought a Pret picnic at the airport thinking that eating during the flight would kill another 20 minutes or so – it did.
Check with your airline. We flew with Easyjet and I researched their child policies before we left so I’d know exactly what we would or would not be entitled to; having had to shell out the cost of an adult seat for Elfie I wanted to make sure we got what we paid for! We were allowed one bag each along with two pieces of baby-related luggage per child should we need it, i.e. a pram or car seat. With Easyjet if you have a folding pram you are able to wheel it to the gate and then pick it up at the luggage carousel which is what we did – after considering purchasing an umbrella fold pram so I wouldn’t have to risk our expensive Bugaboo I decided to not to and took the pram we know both kids can sleep in. I removed the hood and packed it in the suitcase along with the pram’s accessories and it escaped completely unharmed.
Easyjet permit adults with kids to get on the plane after the speedy boarding customers so I made sure I went directly to the front of the queue, even though this went against every properly British part of me that loves queueing.
BabyBjorn. Another lifesaver! I carrried Hux in the BabyBjorn, leaving my hands free to manhandle Elfie into the pram and push her around when all she wanted to do was tear round the airport looking at the planes.
Stay calm. I think remaining relaxed with the kids went a long way to maintain their happy demeanours. We weren’t worried, frantic or scared so they weren’t either. And they didn’t know that my calm face was because of the wine.