Flying for ten hours anywhere is a daunting thought. Add a child to the mix and it can feel like it will never end. Your child can be perfectly behaved for 5 hours straight and just as you are about to start patting yourself on the back for your superb parenting skills they can morph into the devil. And guess what? You still have five more hours to go! On this last vacation I had PLENTY of time to really mull over what works and what doesn't and had several situations thrown in my face that made me realize a few things that you should NEVER do while flying with or without children.
1. If you have a cough, please take some cough medicine BEFORE getting on the plane. And then again during the flight. As much as you can possibly take without overdosing. If your child has a cough, please give them cough medicine BEFORE getting on the plane. And again during the flight. It is very simple. I am certain I have been guilty of this before and I understand that sometimes it is impossible not to cough but we had coughers on both legs of this trip and I can't tell y'all how it makes my skin crawl. Some things are impossible to avoid but at least pretend like you are trying to control your disgusting hacking cough so I don't feel like you are actively trying to give me the plague.
4. On the same sort of note, I understand you can't jump at every demand a child makes on an airplane. However, if you at least ACT like you are trying to entertain and keep your child quiet, other passengers will be much more tolerant. Ever sat next to someone who ignores their child's fits for hours and lets their child whine or cry loudly while they do something self serving? I'm much more likely to cast death daggers at those parents than the ones that I see trying to help the solution. (all parents get bonus points for pulling out an iPad because it shows TRUE commitment to keeping your child quiet).
5. Scissors are not a great toy to let your child pack for the plane. Frankly, I don't know how you got them past security but it was a stupid idea. No one wants to sit next to someone chopping up spiral notebook paper and dipping it in water. Enough said.
6. God forbid your child is sitting in a middle seat but if they are, YOU get up and let them out to the bathroom. Do not expect that the person on the other side be your child's exit row. While you are standing to let them out it's probably best to just accompany them to the bathroom. Those doors are tricky even for people like me.
7. Snacks snacks and more snacks. Did y'all miss that? Bring as many different types of snacks that you can possibly fit. Have you ever tasted airline food? Your child probably won't taste it either. Be prepared. (please feel free to include snacks like Benedryl or Nighttime Delsyium. I'm just saying). Some of our favorites are Go-Go Squeeze applesauce, goldfish and Pringles. Sound healthy? It's not, but it's a novelty and novelties work.
8. Let your toddler run around in the terminal before boarding the plane so that they don't want to run up and down the aisles during the flight. Deaner and I take turns following Evans around while he pushes the stroller himself. It wears him out before a very long period of sitting down. On our Frankfurt to Atlanta leg Deaner worked up quite a sweat running after Evans, who kept trying to exit the secure area over and over. An even better idea? Get a Crown Room/Sky Club pass and enjoy several drinks while watching your child push the stroller around.
9. While on the plane, do not encourage your child to walk up and down the aisles. Thankfully Evans was a late walker so I have only had a handful of flights where walking was actually his preferred mode of transportation however, I also don't let him think walking around is an option. When we head to the bathroom for a diaper change I always carry him because once he figures out he can walk himself, it would be all over. I put his carry-on toy bag and my own carry-one under his feet so he can't slide out of his seat. I always sit in the row of two seats so I can block him in against the window. Long gone are the days of sitting in the bulkhead because there is way too much escaping room in those rows. If all else failed, I would consider binding his feet. :)