How to Survive Layovers with your Children

Anything that moves is fascinating to small children. By TitoRo (Flickr)

For any parent, travelling with children is both a pleasure and a trial. On one hand, you’re spending plenty of bonding time with your little angels; while on the other you’re confined to an airport with energetic kids, along with plenty of others who eye you disparagingly when your little ones misbehave. If your layover is only for an hour or two, ensure you bear the following in mind:

Bring:

Miniature magnetised board games and puzzles that won’t take up too much space in your luggage – just ensure the pieces are suitable for your child’s age, and they won’t accidentally swallow them mid-play. Paper and crayons are also never amiss, and your little Picasso can doodle to their hearts content, be it on the plane, terminal train, or restaurant. A music player, hand-held gaming console, and tennis ball all work well as back-up entertainment options.

Innovative play area:

Most active terminals are jam-packed affairs, and with all the noise and crowding, little ones will either get hyperactive, petulant, or weepy. Don’t fret, as you can scout out an empty terminal to turn into a private play area for them– just ensure you tell them beforehand that it’s a bad idea to climb onto the baggage conveyer. Always ensure you are close enough to hear boarding announcements, or have an updated board with signage you can keep an eye on, so you know when you’re ready to roll again.

If you brought that tennis ball (or alternatively, roll a sock into a make-shift ball) you can play catch with your young’uns, who will usually not tire as quickly as you will.

Alternatively, most young children are quickly mesmerised by moving gadgets, so spend five to ten minutes riding elevators or escalators, or find a good spot to watch them going up and down. Standing at the viewing windows also works, as the little ones can then spend a good half hour watching planes land and take-off, giving you a chance to put your feet up.

 

Play people watching games. By Malingering (Flickr)

Tech Fun

If you have a laptop or tablet, make sure that there are some kid-friendly movies or series, and consider adding on a story book or game for them. This way, if you find a free area away from the crowds, you can sit down together and enjoy a classic film or new favourite.

Eat

Nothing is worse than having hungry children, especially when they remind you about this fact every 15 seconds. Head to an airport restaurant, after checking with airport personnel how long your layover is expected to be. Many restaurants have a childrens section, where you can shoo your brood off to, and enjoy a few minutes in stress-free bliss. If there isn’t a children’s section, now is the time to break out those puzzles, papers, and crayons.

Waiting Room

Crowded boarding area. By donutshead (Flickr)

If you have a short delay, spend time on the boarding bench, and teach your children to people watch – you can make up stories about each person you see, such as the young man with the duffle bag being a spy, or the woman with lots of make-up being a princess in disguise. Just keep your voices down if your ‘subject’ is nearby, otherwise they might take offence. If this game doesn’t catch on, a short game of eye-spy should suffice.

There are plenty of opportunities to bond and have fun together, but if your little one is overtired or too hyper, things can go wrong. Ensure you keep an eye on their mood, and attention span, before attempting any games or distractions. Sometimes a good nap is all they need to recharge, and this allows you as the parent to have the tranquility you require for a peaceful layover.

Author Bio: Roseanna McBain is a writer for TravelGround, a Hazyview accommodation and booking website. She enjoys learning about new cultures, attempting recipes from around the world, and catching up with friends. 

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