We live outside of Washington, D.C., and one set of grandparents is in Denver; the other is in Portland, Ore. My 2 ½ year old daughter has crisscrossed the country more than a dozen times.
I’ll admit it: At 30,000 feet, I am not the best mother. I realized this on a flight this Christmas when my daughter started throwing a temper tantrum. Instead of ignoring it or distracting her or encouraging her to take a deep breath, like I would do on land, I said this: “Do you want a lollipop?” Because you know what? On an airplane, I just don’t care. I do whatever I need to do to get my kid from Point A to Point B without losing my mind. Not everyone will agree with my strategy, and that’s fine. But here are some of my tricks:
- Lollipops. A child is very quiet with a lollipop in her mouth, plus it can take about an hour to eat. Are you hearing this? AN HOUR OF QUIET.
- Screens. I let her look at pictures on my phone and watch “Sesame Street” and “Caillou” on my computer for as long as she wants.
- Toys. I bring something new for her to play with on board. One time, a play purse kept her happy from Oregon to South Dakota.
- Garbage. Nothing occupies my infant quite like a plastic cup that she can squeeze and crunch. Order water rather than soda or juice so her hands don’t get sticky from the empty cup.
- Forbidden snacks. Do you only give your child processed foods like Goldfish or Oreos on special occasions? Guess what? This is a special occasion.
One more thing: make sure to ask the flight attendant which restroom has a changing table right when you get on the plane. There’s often only one, and you don’t want to be walking up and down the aisle with a crying baby trying to find it.