How to fly with grumpy kids

how to fly with grumpy kids

Wednesday afternoon, we hopped on a plane to California. We’ve been awaiting this vacation for quite awhile, but everything seemed to be working against us. Josh and I flew back to Kansas City from Orlando on Sunday evening, after being gone for 4 days. The kids were so excited to see us on Monday morning that they all got up early. Lia was up at 5:30 am. Yikes!

Wednesday morning was pretty much the same thing. Everyone got up super early and they were all super grumpy. I was running around the house packing and getting things ready, while listening to Lia have an epic meltdown. It lasted an hour and a half. I finally got her calmed down by tossing her in the bathtub and blasting her favorite song “I love you like a love song baby” by Selena Gomez. And that’s how our day started.

The kids really brought the crazy leading up to getting on the airplane. But once we were buckled in, the 3 1/2 hour flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles went by without much drama. The girls both had some problems with their ears when we were on our descent, but other than that, they were great on the plane.

Here are my top tips for flying with grumpy kids:

1. Attitude is everything… and I’m not talking about the kids’ attitude. Kids can be crazy anytime, but somehow being on an airplane with them can really up your stress level. I promise if you set your expectations low enough, you can have a good time flying with grumpy kids.

2. Keep them separate. Kids get especially crazy about their personal space when confined to a small area. We always try to put a parent in between the kids and it really helps.

3. Feed them well. Kids get cranky when they’re hungry. We never board a plane without a packed meal for the kids. This time, we brought PB&Js, applesauce squeezers, and carrots. And a ton of healthy snacks. We typically avoid artificial colors,tons of sugar, and junk food, but it’s even more important when we’re going to be cooped up on an airplane. When we feed our kids poorly, we definitely pay for it.

4. Keep them entertained. I’m not a big fan of entertaining kids with electronics. Our kids tend to get super cranky after they’re done playing iPhone games. We did them play for a little bit, but then they had to play with the other things we brought. I hijacked all the goodies from the kids’ road trip kits and we loaded up their backpacks.

5. Remember that it takes time for kids to adjust to changing time zones. It takes 1 day for every hour in time difference. (Full disclosure: I totally made that up to make myself feel better for the fact that my kids have been terrors since we arrived in California. I just keep reminding myself that they were good on the plane ride, hoping that will somehow balance out the last two days.)

We’ll be in California for 11 more days and I’m hopeful that our kids will get adjusted to the time difference soon! We have tons of things to cross of our summer bucket list and our California bucket list! And then we’ll be on a plane home (hopefully with happy kids this time!). Have you ever traveled with grumpy kids? Got a tip to share? We’d love to hear it!

Jenny (290 Posts)

Jenny Solar is the co-founder of The Happy Family Movement and Phone Monsters, Inc. She's a wife to Josh and mama to three kiddos: Max, Ava, and Lia. She's passionate about creating memorable experiences for her family and inspiring others to do the same.


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