The Perils of Flying. With Kids.

When one travels with children, one becomes astutely aware of little things along the way that can both help and hinder their vacation.

ImageLast Thursday we headed for Logan to catch a 7:45am flight to Florida.  We had pulled the kids from school for a few days so that we could visit Andy’s parents outside of Ft. Myers and despite the heinous snowstorm were able to enjoy some family, fun, and yes, SUNSHINE.

Like any good parents, we packed the unimportant (clothes) while making sure to remember the essentials (electronics) that would be available to tired, cold and bored children at a moment’s notice.  For the most part, we were successful: the kids were not perfect but weren’t intentionally left on the plane either.  We’ll take it.

As we arrived home, I made a mental note of those things that I absolutely love and will never travel without again.  Get yer finger on the printer button, folks…you’ll want to keep this list handy the next time your family is flying to a tropical island, spending a weekend on the cape or even (depending on what kind of seasoned travelers you’re raising) simply driving to the grocery store.

I give to you: A Parent’s Survival Guide to Traveling with Little Monsters Children

DO:      Hit the CVS candy aisle and buy a cheap bag of Dum Dum lollipops.  Not only are they economical and come in a bazillion (nasty) flavors, but your children won’t understand why you laugh when they eat them (it’s because they remind you of the microphone that Bob Barker used while hosting “The Price is Right”).

DON’T: Spring for the expensive Charms Blow Pops.  They cost more, are too cumbersome for a 3-year old’s mouth/attention span and the gum in the middle gets so hard SO FAST that it’s likely to give them a turbo case of TMJ.  Plus, they look to YOU to dispose of the funky gum.  It’s a lose-lose, no matter how you suck it.

ImageDO:      Spend the day before travel charging every iPad/iPhone/laptop/Nook you can find and pack ‘em all in a child-sized carry on.  And before your flight, say a quick Novena that someone at Apple will uphold Steve Jobs’ grand tradition of inventing stuff to keep kids entertained.

DON’T: Get all holier-than-thou with a “When I was a kid, we brought Mad Libs and played License Plate games” attitude.  Times have changed, folks.  Although my parents DID drive my two sisters and me to Florida in a Volkswagen Dasher back in ’82, I’m quite sure they vehemently hated us the entire time and were only thankful that no flight attendants were in the car to hear their thoughts.

DO:      Invest in CVS Detangler if your daughter will be anywhere near a pool.  I have tried them all and while this was a last minute panic-purchase, it may have saved my relationship with the curly-haired Georgia.  I don’t know WHAT is in it (Vegetable Oil?) but I don’t care.  Within minutes it had turned her thick dreadlocks into real hair again.

DON’T: Pay a lot for the fancy herbal stuff because it doesn’t work.  Your daughter will hate you and you will waste at least 20 minutes of cocktail hour swearing at her.  DO NOT TEST THIS THEORY; take my word for it.  You are welcome.

DO:      Let your kids get spoiled, a little.  It’s their vacation too and if they want to have ice cream at 8:45 at night, just remember that it’s short-lived.  A little indulgence never hurt anyone (this rule also applies for adults during the aforementioned cocktail hour).

DON’T: Allow children to take things too far.  Take heed: although they may “be their grandparents’ problem,” that very same loving couple will happily hand them back to you at the airport.  No parent enjoys deprogramming children after vacation, so moderation is key.

ImageJust remember to keep this checklist fastened firmly to the front of the family suitcase or risk watching your very own kids melt down in the middle of baggage claim.  Should that happen though, simply look around, roll your eyes, and deny that “that child” belongs to you.  Just grab your detangler, pop a Dum Dum in your mouth and head straight for the pool.

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