Easier Airplane Travel

Looking Out the Airplane Window

Five easy things you can do to improve your next flight with kids:
  • Travel early; most kids are at their best in the morning
  • Be extra nice to the flight attendants and ask if there are any kid “perks”
  • If you’re a family of four, sit two by two, in seats in front of one another–this way the only seat your long-legged kid is kicking is your own
  • Bring small surprises to keep the kids delighted and busy (sticky mosaic crowns worked for us on this trip)
  • Don’t feel guilty about letting them enjoy more screen time than normal–it’s a treat for them (and your fellow passengers if it helps keep them occupied and quiet)

Hauling car seats, babies and luggage across the airport only to head toward tiny seats at the back of a cramped airplane is hardly an upbeat start to a vacation. That said, we just returned from a trip to Arizona and it seemed like many of those usual obstacles didn’t exist this time around. Sure, it still took a lot to get organized and nobody likes to transport those awkward car seats anywhere BUT, now that the kids are old enough (3 and 5) to really communicate, understand the steps along the way, and even help a bit, air travel has gotten much easier. In fact, their curiosity and sense of wonderment made many of those typically mundane steps entertaining and, dare I say, fun!

Excited observations like “I see Christmas lights!” and “Look, the moon!” chirped from the back seat during our 4:30am drive to the airport. Like little scientists, we observed the changes in the sky as the sun rose and commented on the colors–they were mesmerized. The shuttle bus from the parking lot to the airport provided similar thrills but that was before they even remembered all the elevator buttons, escalators, and the subway ride to our gate. You’d never know it was so early by looking at them, they were on full alert. Even the security checkpoint got them excited and they were so proud of themselves for following instructions and getting it right. As we boarded the plane, the adventure continued as the amazingly friendly flight attendant invited the kids to say hello to the pilot.

Kids In the Cockpit Talking to the Pilot

While he talked to them for several minutes, I mentioned to that flight attendant how I remembered getting little wings every time I flew as a child. Well, guess what… they still have those (a plastic version with sticker instead of a pin but still, how cool). She said nobody ever asks any more but was happy to give them to the kids. Thank you, Alaska Airlines.
Seating was three by three on each side of the plane and because we’ve had bad experiences with our long-legged boy kicking the seat in front of him, hubby Rob had the idea of getting pairs of seats in front of one another. Brilliant! Not only did it fix the kicking problem, it kept the sibling rivalry at bay, and gave each of us some nice one-on-one time. I’d like to say that we didn’t have to resort to electronics to keep the kids happy and busy but William got to watch a DVD and I let Sara play with my phone for a while. As much as I’d like to be an unplugged Momma, there is a time and a place, and I have to say, this was a good one.However, on the flight home, our batteries ran out and the kids were totally fine with that. Besides doodling with markers and a sketch book, Sticky Mosaic crowns were a huge hit. Normally I wouldn’t get very excited about an art project with such little room for creativity (numbered spaces are laid out for specific colored squares and jewels) but it turned out to be a good exercise in following a key, provided great fine motor practice and the pieces were remarkably easy to keep contained for travel.
Best family vacation yet!

Kids Watching Planes Take Off

Do you have some favorite tips and tricks that work for your family on Airplane Rides?

Kelsey Creek Farm Park, Bellevue

Big White Barn at Kelsey Creek Farm Park
Blue sky and sunshine awaited us at Kelsey Creek Farm Park this bright spring morning. The air was frigid but we were all smiles heading to the barns to meet Farmer Jayne. She runs a fantastic farm kids program that gives kids a behind-the-scenes look at how the farm animals are cared for at the park and offers group tours and classes for kids.
Kids Feeding the Piglets at Kelsey Creek Farm Park
We fed the pigs (pellets for the babies and a whopping big pumpkin for the 600+ pounds hefty girl), petted LucyBelle the growing calf and one of the goats (can’t remember if it was Bert or Ernie but the names made a lasting impression on the kids).

Pink Piglets at Kelsey Creek Farm Park

Then the kids got to touch a baby chick and pet a velvety black bunny. The grand finale was planting pumpkin seeds and with any luck (plus sunshine, warmth, and water) we’ll go back to watch them grow all summer long then see them harvested in the fall.
Knowing what a soaking wet spring it has been so far, we were prepared for mud with our weatherproof boots. Sara insisted on shorts despite the 40-something degree temperature (this is a battle I no longer engage in, rather I bring extra clothes just in case), but my little man buckled up his overalls in true farm fashion. The tour only lasted about 30 minutes but that was perfect for the attention span of our group of 2-5 year olds. Most of us stuck around afterward for a picnic and playtime at the playground and oh my… here is where the real fun began.

One word: MUD!

Kids Wading in a Mud Puddle

I consider myself very lucky to have friends who revel in this kind of activity for their children as much as I do.

Kids in a Big Mud Puddle

Big Mucky Mud Puddly

Sitting in the Mucky Mud

This moment was a lovely reminder of what a good teacher my little girl is. Turns out, shorts were perfect for her today… and so was the extra change of clothes. We wandered out of the park feeling satisfied, tired, and happy with the sunshine on our backs. Now, one bath, one load of laundry, many bike rides and one rainstorm later, I am one happy Momma.
Kids at Kelsey Creek Farm Park