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  • Writer's pictureA Wild Lass

What To Do When Kids Get Antsy on the Plane

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Taking kids on a flight isn't anyone's most favorite activity. If you have more than one with you, it's even harder. You have to divide your attention and keep multiple kids occupied when they may not feel good and they're out of their usual routine.

Yet it's doable, and because we've done it recently, we have some insider tips to help you get through it, especially during the pandemic.

Photo by Elly Johnson on Unsplash

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

Kids and Masks

Mask-wearing is a necessary evil most kids aren't thrilled about. While there are some exceptions, getting your child to understand why they need this annoying thing on their face all the time is hard.

Use this free lesson to help them understand why they have to do it. Explain that it helps keep everyone safe, and that they are being a kind human when they wear a mask, even though it's uncomfortable. Assure them that everyone else will be in a mask and they are just as uncomfortable but they are making the choice to wear theirs to keep your child safe and they can extend the same courtesy.

Most airlines are being pretty strict about the federal mask regulations. On flights the flight attendants are insistent that you wear your mask, even between sips or bites. Your experience may be different, depending on the airline and the attendants.

You can help you child by buying masks they love. Unicorns and rainbows are what my daughters love the best, along with Frozen 2. Get them ahead of time and show your child, but don't let them wear it until it's time for your trip. This will make the mask extra special.

You can also practice wearing masks for longer periods of time before your trip. Either at home or during a long activity away from home, tell your child they'll have to wear their mask the whole time. Then encourage them to do a good job as practice for your trip.

Ants in their Pants

Sitting still is hard for many kiddos. If yours are anything like mine, you may have some of each, ones that can entertain themselves for hours and sit still without issue and ones that are impossible to keep still. Here are some ways to help with that.

Between flights or while waiting to board, let the kids walk on the moving sidewalks. Go with them if you don't want to leave them unattended or don't want to be too far from them (important when airports are crowded!). You can walk up and down the moving sidewalks as many times as necessary.

Play Simon Says in an empty corner of the waiting area at the gate. Let each child be the leader in turn. You can participate or have a quiet moment to yourself to sit still. If you choose to take a turn, make it as silly as possible to help them get all their wiggles and giggles out.

During a flight, if your child is wiggly and the fasten seatbelt sign is off, let your child play with their toys on their seat. Have them kneel on the floor in front of the seat facing the seat back. This will help them change positions and get some of the wiggles out without disturbing anyone in front of or behind your child.

Airplane Etiquette

It's standard operating procedure to treat other passengers nicely. Some people say you shouldn't wear perfume on a day with planned air travel because smells are magnified when you're in close quarters. You can teach your kids etiquette tips for air travel, too.

As they explore all the buttons and ask about the one that leans their seat back, explain what it does. Then explain that you should ask the person behind you if it's okay ot lean your seat back. Show them how it reduced the amount of space they have, and it could jostle their drink if they have one sitting on the tray table. Someone with long legs would be even more uncomfortable.

Help them find the words to use as they learn to be polite.

Demonstrate how they can close their air vent instead of pointing it at someone else. That might make another passenger cold, whereas closing it keeps the cold air off the child and the other passenger.

As a flight attendant hands out snacks and drinks, be as respectful as possible while reaching over other passengers.

Use headphones instead of playing your movie, game, or podcast with the sound on for everyone to hear.

We can still treat others with respect, even when we're tired from travel and squished in all together.

Traveling Is Hard

Remember that traveling is hard for everyone. Yes, it's a big adventure, and we're excited to be going to a new place. There are plenty of exciting things happening, but it can be exhausting. Kids aren't the only ones who get grumpy when they're tired.

Give yourself extra grace as you navigate the journey ahead of you.

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For more on travel adventures, check out these other posts from A Wild Lass:

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

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