Taking children in the plane to the Walt Disney World Resort? Are you looking forward to the process of going through the airport? While you might be feeling a bit jaded and apprehensive about the whole thing – baggage handling, checking in, security and waiting for your flight – your child probably sees it differently. If you see things through your child’s eyes, the airport is just part of the adventure and the fun of the vacation.
Parents often forget how their moods affect their children’s moods. If you’re grumpy, bored and hassled, your children will catch this off you and you will all end up feeling worse. If you stay calm, then your children will take their cues for you. If you manage to drum up some enthusiasm, then your children will often become enthusiastic, too. It’s hard to be perfect when you’re a parent, but try your best!
One key thing to do to help your children through the process of going through an airport and flying is to explain what’s going on to them. Don’t worry that all the other people around you will think you’re an idiot if you entertain your child with singing, dancing and the like. In the case of airport officials and staff, you’ll probably make their day a lot more enjoyable. If a silly song complete with actions and funny noises is going to stop a toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the security check, for goodness sake, sing it. With gusto!
Here are a handful of ideas for making the process of going through a busy airport a lot more fun.
Baggage handling: Let your children ride on the airport baggage trolley as you proceed to the check-in. If you’re sensible, you’ll leave a lot of child-related paraphernalia behind at home and get, say, stroller rentals in Orlando at the other end of your journey. You’ll have more room for little passengers if you don’t have all that extra clobber with you. Something new to ride on is a lot more fun for a child than riding in their regular stroller.
Check-in: One tip that makes things easy at the other end of your air journey when it comes to finding your baggage on the carousel is to put a strip of brightly coloured material on each item of your check-in baggage. Ask your children to help you make sure that each item that goes on to be weighed has this piece of material on it. Show children the numbers on the scales if they’re old enough and explain why baggage has to be weighed and why there’s a limit – if we take too much stuff, the plane won’t be able to take off (and you can sing the song about Mr Hippopotamus and Mrs Hippopotamus getting on the bus to go out to tea to fill in a few minutes). At this point, you don’t want to lose your cool and get flustered and irritated if you’ve got too much baggage and are likely to incur an excess baggage charge – if you’ve decided that booking stroller rentals is the way to go, you are likely to be glad that you did.
Security: Again, tell the children what’s going on: the guards/security officers/cops/soldiers (however you want to describe them) are trying to stop bad guys sneaking dangerous stuff onto the plane that they could use to hurt other people, and everyone has to be checked just in case. As all children who are able to walk unaided have to walk through the security gate alone, encourage him or her to march through like a soldier and to salute the guard on duty. You might get a smile! If you’re in the mood for it and if you’ve had a number of children marching through and saluting, try doing it yourself. Children and babies should not remain in cribs, carrier or the like as these go through the X-ray. If the item is too big to go through the X-ray machine, the security people will have to inspect it manually, which is another reason why getting stroller rentals makes your trip easier: it speeds the process up if you don’t take this sort of clobber with you through security.
The departure lounge: This can actually be the most tedious part, especially if a connecting flight is late or if the weather is not cooperating. Don’t worry about making your child sit still in a seat for ages at this point – they’re going to be sitting down for long enough in the plane, after all. If you have insisted on taking your own stroller this far rather than checking it in or booking stroller rentals, let your child out for a wriggle. You shouldn’t let your child annoy other people or bump into them, but sensible activity won’t hurt anyone and shouldn’t annoy them (running riot will, however). See if your child can do forward rolls (or hop or spider walk) across the floor. Walk around the room and watch planes taking off. Get your child to do exercises on the spot – star jumps and arm waving things. Action songs are also good. If you’re really lucky, you will tire your child right out so he or she falls asleep during the trip – a real plus on a longer flight!
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