But there are ways to at least get some time to relax and get a bit of quiet time when you're traveling.
Here are 8 tips for how to find some quiet time while flying with kids:
1. Use the on-board entertainment system
Use that screen in the seat-back in front of your child, find a movie they like, put their headphones on (bring some child-sized headphones for a better fit than the ones provided by most airlines), and let them veg out for a bit. While they do that, take a chance to wind down and recharge.
2. Get a bassinet for your baby
If you are traveling with a baby on a long-haul flight, make sure to request a bassinet when you book your trip. Your baby will get a place to lie down, making it a lot easier for your child and you to relax, even if it's just for a short while.
3. Get some sit-down time at the airport
Air travel often means waiting around and that can get seriously stressful if you're traveling with kids who are all about "are we there yet?". One thing that works well for my kids is to bring out some quiet activities like sticker books, coloring books, or educational workbooks while waiting at the airport. I've bought myself some extra time to enjoy a cup of coffee doing this at airports doing this. You can do this while sitting in an airport café, or at a table near your departure gate.
4. Find a good spot for airplane-watching
If you have children who love watching airplanes and all the other assorted vehicles that scoot around an airport (this would describe my son), then use that to your advantage. Find a spot at the airport where your child can look out the window, and take it easy for a bit.
5. Find the airport's play area
Some airports have great play areas and this can be a great place for you to relax while your kids get to run around and have fun. Find an airport map, look for a play area, and head there.
6. Use a baby carrier
Airplane time with a baby can be challenging, especially if they're on your lap or in your arms for the whole trip. Use a baby carrier, like a Babybjörn Carrier or Boba Carrier to make things a little more comfortable. This can also help soothe your child if they're uncomfortable or crying.
7. Breastfeed or get a bottle out
Babies are usually at their calmest when they're either sleeping or eating. So if you're traveling with a baby, catch some down-time by preparing a bottle or sitting down to breastfeed (this will also help your baby if they are bothered by pressure in their ears). Bring pre-mixed formula, or bring the powdered stuff and mix up a bottle on board. Breastfeeding on board can be challenging and not always a relaxing activity. It helps if you don't sit in an aisle seat. Sometimes a cover for nursing mothers cover-up can also help make both you and your child feel more relaxed.
8. Go high-tech
One way to give your child something to do, and buy yourself some quiet time is to allow them to play with you cell-phone (maybe a handy app, or game), your iPad, laptop or similar device. I haven't tried this myself, mainly because I am gadget-challenged, but I've heard other parents swear by it. While your kids enjoy the high-tech treat, you also get a break.
Once your children are safely otherwise occupied, you can use this time to:
- do an in-flight workout, some airplane yoga, or just try some deep breaths
- have a drink (though in my opinion, a drink never tastes right on board a plane or at an airport: much better to save this for when you arrive at your destination!)
- watch a movie
- eat a snack or meal in relative peace
- sleep (my own favorite activity if I'm given a choice!), or at least doze off briefly (power naps are not to be scoffed at)