On Tuesday, the Huffington Post shared an article called “9 Things Kids Can Play With In-flight That Don’t Involve Technology” and I’m still laughing at this list.
I’ve read a lot of stupid things in my life, many of them on this very blog. But I’m not sure I’ve read anything quite this delusional lately. (And I once compared my son to a bird!)
I may not truck with parents apologizing for flying with kids, but I would never willfully abuse my fellow passengers. Which is essentially what these suggestions boil down to.
I get it. Flying with kids is hard. It’s a challenge to keep them entertained on a flight, you’re terrified you didn’t bring enough Skittles to ease your fellow passengers’ pain and pay the troll (read: child) toll, and not everyone has a tablet or a smartphone on which they can while away the time. Sometimes you have to improvise.
(Pro Tip: If you DO have a tablet or a smartphone, for the love of God, LET THE KIDS HAVE IT. The plane ride is NOT the time to teach children a lesson. Withhold their screen time when you get where you’re going, on your own time. Your kids have as much right to travel as anyone else, but the other passengers aren’t your guinea pigs.)
Unfortunately the things laid out in this list would never work in a million years. So I’ve made some annotations for the author, to let her know where she went wrong. Because I’m A NICE PERSON.
Dad and Buried’s Annotated List of Things Kids Can Play With In-flight
- Bring some pots of eco-friendly dough with you. Easy to clean up, easy to transport. Win, win. Totally! Unfortunately, it doesn’t digest well. Also, I call bullshit on the easy clean-up. Thirdly, see #6 below. Because that’s about all he’ll make. Besides a mess.
- Masking tape. Basic. Yes, we know. This the best suggestion on the list, by far, even though masking tape is CRAZY LOUD and she surely intends it for something other than strapping down and muzzling the child, despite the fact that I can think of NO OTHER REASON FOR BRINGING MASKING TAPE ON A PLANE than for strapping down and muzzling a child.
- Find a portable water-based coloring book like Melissa & Doug Water Wow Coloring Books, Color Wonder books or Aquadoodle. Fill up the pen/drawing instrument when you get on the plane. The best part: It can’t make a mess since it’s just a bit of water (really). Can’t make a mess? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. My kid can make a mess with a tissue and a single cube of ice.
- Travel-size construction paper and Crayons. Sometimes, there’s nothing better. And other times there are broken crayons, children screaming about broken crayons, ripped up pieces of paper everywhere, and markings all over the seats, your pants and your kid’s pants (other times = every time). But sure, sometimes there’s nothing better.
- Books! This is when engendering a strong sense of reading comes into play. Two great iPad-ish books are Herve Tullet’s, Press Here and Mix It Up. Your kid’s imagination will go wild. Like I have the extra money for the baggage fee necessary to transport a mini-library after paying through the nose for the flight! He’s lucky I was able to fit his underwear. Besides, my kid still needs me to read the books to him, and I’ll be asleep, while he’s snuggled up next to me, wrapped up in masking tape.
- Koosh Balls. Yes, they are old. Yes, they rule. Let me get this straight: my kid is supposed to sit there with a ball on his lap, just happily tugging it to and fro for hours? Yeah, I don’t think so. Balls = throwing. You give my kid a ball on a plane, that thing is landing in someone’s Vodka Tonic (probably Mom and Buried’s) before we leave the gate. The air marshal will have him cuffed inside of two minutes.
- Magna Doodle. You’ll love rediscovering a childhood favorite with your child. Cool. I have a new version of this, it’s called an iPad. And my version actually works.
- Finger puppets. This is for the more Pinterest-y mom, sure, but they’re great fun. Yeah, tons of fun, specially for the people behind you that your kid keeps terrorizing with grotesque versions of finger puppets you were barely able to Frankenstein together off some borderline-professional’s Pinterest page. Great idea! Unfortunately, they don’t digest well.
- Look out the window! Clouds are really beautiful from up high. Your child will hopefully be as awe-struck as you as you glance at the world below. Well, holee shit! Seriously? You must be “up high” if you think my kid is going to blissfully stare out the window at the same boring blue sky for two to six hours.
These suggestions would be all well and good, if they’re weren’t nearly 100% useless. I could bring 300 different toys on the plane and he’d burn through them all in ten minutes and desperately want to know what’s next. What’s next is some headphones and Despicable Me 2!
YOU’RE WELCOME, everyone else on the plane.
I’m sincerely questioning whether the author of the original piece has or even knows any young children. If she is a mom, I hope the next time she’s loading her kids’ entire playroom into the overhead compartment, she remembers to buy a few rounds for the other people on her flight.
Something tells me the best goody bags in the world aren’t gonna cut it.
11 thoughts on “Terrible Tips for Flying with Kids”
I would add to the water color books that the pen would also be a problem as one must fill it EVERY 10 seconds-
I do have a sister who can let her kids pay with pay doh on road trips, but they are especially calm children in a roomy vehicle, that would be horrible on a plane! I won’t even let my kids pay with that stuff in most of the house, because they ruin things.
We took three boys on a plane recently, and we made sure they each had an electronic device of some sort that they weren’t allowed to turn on until in flight. Time in the airport is meant for running up and down halls to get the energy out.
Kids love white boards and the markers come in Kool colors.
My kids are teens now, but they grew up during the time when EVERYTHING seemed to be either takeoff or landing with no electronics. I got many compliments on how well-behaved my kids were on the plane, and trust me, they weren’t ordinarily that good. The secret is a combination of overindulgence and surprise. Here’s what we brought on the plane: 1) Food they aren’t usually allowed to eat at home. Candy. Soda. A Lunchable where they have to put the sandwich together out of individual crackers and tiny cold cuts (probably not as exciting if you always get Lunchables). This stuff will burn at least half an hour; 2) Stuff you bought at the airport gift shop because it’s often designed for planes and also the novelty hasn’t worn off; 3) One entire pad and box of crayons per child. There is just something magical about a new pad of unlined paper from CVS. 4) Btw, the crayons and any other toys with small pieces should be brought in a small shirt box from a department store, so they’re contained, as is any mess. Just prop the shirt box on the tray table; 4) A movie to watch.
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The best actual good tip I know, is to buy a bunch of small toys from the dollar store and don’t let the kid see them ahead of time. Dole out one or two an hour. We’ve been to Australia and back a few times now with a small child (16 hour flight.) The other best travel tip is pack extra clothes for YOU as well as them. Then pack another set, and maybe some more. They will have accidents. More than once. On you as well as themselves.
I took playdoh, coloring books, cars and trucks, books, and an ipad. But I also had a son, who even at two, if he was bored, would just say, “I’m bored,” and sit there patiently.
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