Obstacles - The Flight is Too Long!


Airplane_sleepThe prospect of a long flight can be nerve wracking for the parents of small children.  The key to making it as smooth as possible is having the proper expectations, not just for you but for the kids as well.  Do not freak out if your child isn't falling asleep when you were hoping they would - hounding them about it will only rile the both of you up and be counter productive.  Being on an airplane is always exciting for a child, and combine that with what is most likely a larger plane than they are used to, fancy movies and the cart with food and beverages and it's like going to the amusement park!

If you are leaving on an evening flight (recommended!) then tell the children ahead of time what is expected of them.  "When you get on the plane you're allowed to watch one movie and have a snack and drink.  Then you need to close your eyes and have a sleep, even if you just rest your eyes for an hour it's very important that you try."  Then stick with it.  The likelihood that they will stay awake is fairly slim, especially if it is now well past their normal bedtime.  A few hours of sleep on the plane is perfect - don't worry about the number of hours and how it compares to their sleep at home - you will all be messed up for a few days and that is okay!  The kids often have an easier time adapting to the time change than the adults do, and don't underestimate the excitement of a new destination and how well it works at keeping everyone awake.

One year our 7 year old was determined that she would stay awake for the entire flight.  She was literally holding her eyes open and watching Toy Story over and over in an attempt to reach her goal.  Every time her head would fall she would snap her eyes open; this went on for hours and caused me a great deal of stress.  That particular flight is what caused us to implement the 'rules and expectations for overseas flights' - a fancy sounding name for telling the kids what I wrote in the above paragraph.  The following year she watched a movie then knew she needed to close her eyes and get some sleep - and it worked!

Hint:  Most long haul flights have in-flight movies so make sure to bring your own earphones to avoid paying for them or using ones of poor quality.  Take advantage of the movies on the plane because you'll have plenty of other opportunities to read and/or watch the other entertainment options you have brought with you.


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