The 1 Trick That Made Flying With My Toddler a Breeze

toddler planeI wasn't a huge fan of flying before I had a child (cliche statement alert: I love traveling, hate flying), so when it was time for our annual trip to the Midwest for the holidays, I was dreading boarding the plane more than usual now that my daughter is a full-on, tantruming, obsessed-with-running toddler. Like every parent, I packed an assortment of "new" toys, games, and books; brought enough snacks to feed a daycare; and loaded the iPad up with videos and apps that would god-willingly hold her attention. I was prepared but still nervous.

But, surprisingly, our flight went well. Really well. Shockingly well. And it's because of one simple thing I did.

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I never gave my daughter a chance to get bored (hence, restless; hence, tantrumy) -- not for a nano-second. If there was even the faintest sign that she was starting to tire of whatever she was doing, I immediately gave her something else to do. Because, as any parent knows, it's much easier to stop a tantrum from happening altogether than it is to try to stop a tantrum mid-way through.

I know a few moms who subscribe to the "children should be allowed to be bored" theory, and while I agree with that and hope to implement such a belief some day, my daughter, who's 20 months, is not quite there yet. And let me be frank: I'm not going to try to instill this philosophy when we're locked in a slab of metal, surrounded by hundreds of strangers, thousands of feet up in the air. (For those of you who have toddlers who are content being bored, that's great. My kid isn't one of them yet.) Watching my daughter like a hawk, waiting for her cues = awesomeness for us. And I couldn't recommend it more. (A few other things that I think contributed to the pleasant flight? Allowing her to walk around/explore the airport beforehand; waiting until the last second to board; and flying at 10:45 -- a time where we didn't have to wake her up in the morning/she wouldn't normally be napping [she doesn't nap in public].)

Now. Let's see how the flight home goes. While our daughter was an amazing traveler, she hasn't been too keen on sleep during her vacation, so that variable could make things interesting. Wish us luck!

What tips do you have for traveling with your toddler?


Image via chunky salsa/Flickr

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