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Jill’s House: Hate flying with kids? Sometimes parents do, too

Jill Officer takes a selfie with her daughter, Camryn, during a recent plane ride. Jill Officer / Global News

My family recently returned from a hot vacay and just my daughter and I had to overnight in Toronto before carrying on to Camrose, Alta., for my team to play in this week’s Canada Cup of Curling.

After picking up our luggage, I waited much too long to retrieve her car seat, then almost missed our shuttle to the hotel. I arrived at the hotel at 11 p.m., a slow-walking three-year-old in tow with the shuttle waiting outside for me to get a hotel luggage cart and no one to give me a helping hand.

What irked me the most about our adventure after landing was the woman at the front desk, who was not at all busy, told me I have to go over to the other side of the lobby and through the doorway into a hallway to get a luggage cart. Seriously?! Can you help me out here?

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Yes, travelling with a child is a choice, and yes, parents know it will have its challenges. That doesn’t mean we can’t use a little help when we’re going down a ramp and our bags fall off the cart, or when we’re trying to pull our bags off a carousel three rows deep with people, while keeping an eye on our kid or kids.

More often than not I travel by myself or with my team. Now that I have experienced travel with a child, if I see a parent fighting to get his or her kids and luggage onto the elevator or through a door, I always make an effort to help.

So all this got me thinking about tips for travelling with kids. While I probably don’t have to tell most parents who have travelled with their children what some of the best tips are – travel with an abundance of snacks, quiet toys such as colouring, kids’ headphones, etc. – the people I want to give tips to are those who see, especially, single parents travelling with one or two kids, and what you might need to know or take into consideration.

  • As already mentioned, if you see a parent needing help, take an extra second to lend a much-needed hand.
  • A parent’s worst fear is having a baby or child on a plane that cries, is inconsolable or possibly in ear pain during takeoff or landing. If a baby on a plane won’t stop crying, have some understanding. And besides, you should be travelling with earplugs anyway, as I suggested in my last blog.
  • Parents can only control their kids so much, so if you are being touched and kicked by flailing arms and legs next door, please try to be patient. But parents, I have been in situations when the mother or father of a baby isn’t even making an effort to keep the child contained, so make sure you are trying your best not to disrupt the neighbours.
  • If you are really opposed to sitting next to kids, book an aisle seat, because I can almost guarantee most parents will want the aisle with their children. They will book those seats so they won’t disrupt anyone for potty breaks. And on an overseas flight, don’t book near the bulkhead. Most parents will select seats there for the extra room.
  • Finally, little feet like to reach out and touch the seat in front of them. Even just on our flight the other day, I had to tell my daughter to keep her feet off the seat, but I had to tell her a dozen times. This is what kids do, so please understand if you feel some nudging behind you. But again, parents, at least do your best.

READ MORE: Jill’s House: 11 tips for a winning travel itinerary

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Even as a parent, when travelling by myself, I sometimes find myself looking for patience when a child is near me on a plane. However, my biggest pet peeve about travelling toddlers and babies is parents that don’t at least make an effort.

So next time you end up in the daycare centre of an airplane, keep these things in mind because honestly, no parent wants to be the one whose kid disrupts the entire plane.

Jill Officer is a Canadian Olympic gold medal-winning curler and Winnipeg mom. She gives us a twice-monthly look behind the scenes at her dual life in her blog, Jill’s House.

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