Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I will be traveling at the end of the month with my two boys, ages 3.5 and 5.5. I have flown before with them, and it hasn’t been too terrible, but this trip includes a four-hour layover in Detroit. Our last flight included an hour layover and in that short amount of time they nearly knocked down a gaggle of old ladies, started a wrestling match during boarding, and almost got arrested by Homeland Security. What the hell am I going to do?
Dear Traveling Terrors,
You came to the right place with this question, my friend, for I am also the mother of two boys and travel with them alone quite often. In fact, you may have seen us on the news last month—”Blonde Mom Locks Self In a Southwest Airlines 747 Cockpit: Tells Pilot She’ll ‘Do Anything Above the Waist’ To Escape Rampaging Offspring.” We were on the Today show right after the kid who swallowed twenty Beyblades and the family pet and now crusades for Christ. No? Missed it? I’ll send you the tape after I sort out my current legal mess.
Of course there are lots of tips and tricks to traveling with children, but in my opinion, a successful trip can really be boiled down to one word: Electronics.
iPods, iPads, DS, Playstations, Walkmen, Leapsters—if it has batteries and makes annoying beeps and squeaks, buy ten and shove them into your little guys’ hands as soon as you get through security. Just forget any of the usual rules or regulations you have about screen time and brain rot because a four-hour layover in Detroit is exactly why Angry Birds was invented. Also download their favorite TV shows or movies and be sure to bring along headphones and lots of extra batteries. Your goal is to have both kids sitting in a drooling nursing home stupor until your row is called for boarding or they turn 18 and you can jump on the first plane to Aruba.
A few other tips:
- Give each boy a backpack and tell them to pack a few of their favorite things from home. (Their favorite things will most likely be 200 Pokemon cards, dried out markers and a piece of your wedding china.) This’ll give them a taste of home while also helping them feel like they’re in charge of their activities.
- Pack snacks, snacks and more snacks. Make most of them healthy choices, but never underestimate the bribing power of something made by that bitch Little Debbie, either.
- The Family Restroom is your friend. Don’t even consider taking them into the regular ladies room unless you want 100 of your fellow passengers to hear you being asked why you don’t have a penis.
- If you can swing it, consider paying for a one-day pass to an airport lounge. Delta has one in Detroit and I think their passes are $50 for the day. That may or may not include the children’s admittance, so you’ll have to look into it. But lounges usually have kid rooms that aren’t as chaotic as the general concourse. We love the American Airlines lounge at LAX.
- Bring along a “Prize Pack.” This is basically just a bag full of little $1 toys, books, lollipops, etc. that you can use as leverage. “Behave for the next twenty minutes and you’ll get to grab something from the prize pack!” Cheap, yet effective tactic.
- Do not go into the gift shop unless you want to hear them cry because you won’t buy them a $15.99 toy airplane. That’s just setting yourself up for trouble.
- Walk around the entire airport at least once. I’m serious—take a long stroll that’ll tire them out. You’ll eventually find an empty area where they can run around like ferrets and burn off even more energy.
But my most important tip is for you to just take a deep breath and relax, mama. It’s only four hours (or two viewings of Magic Mike) and it’s really not going to be as bad as you think. And even if it is that bad and you find yourself hiding in an overhead bin while an air marshal looks for you, I wouldn’t freak out. Most airlines won’t follow through with their threats to sue you for letting your children open the Emergency Exit doors mid-flight.
At least that’s what my legal counsel tells me.
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