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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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It's Not Charged?!

Uploaded: Sep 10, 2015
When flying with kids, things don't always go as planned. I'm still not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow I ended up on a cross country flight with a preschooler and an iPad about 5% charged. Thankfully our external battery had some power left but the iPad was not going to last very long - especially with our son using it to watch shows and play games.

Luckily, our son has enough technological knowledge to understand that the iPad would die during our flight. And he knew me well enough to see that I was clearly shocked and scrambling for a solution to this mess.

Even with very limited battery power, the iPad was truly a lifesaver for us during this flight. I was a nervous wreck when I noticed the iPad's low battery. Our son actually took the news much better than I did - probably because he didn't really know just how long a 6 hour flight is.

While I saw that our son could be entertained on a flight without constantly using an iPad, I have no desire to repeat the experience again.

What is your favorite technology-free way to entertain little ones on a flight?
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Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Our main aim for long flights has always been to encourage our kids to sleep as much as possible during the sleep. We always get them up early on the day of flight and try to get them to play outside beforehand if possible, to get them as active as they can be so that they are more likely to sit still for a long period of time. When through security or at the gate walk them around the terminal or play in the kids area if there is one.

Once on the flight, a comforting familiar toy that they usually sleep with or keep on their bed helps to give them a secure feeling as well as a small story book they are used to reading at bedtime. I know that not all will sleep, but giving them "permission" to sleep or nap if they are tired may help.

Another thing that has worked is to take along a couple of cheap new toys that are wrapped in some spare gift wrap that can be opened every hour of the flight. Things we have included have been small card games, pokemon cards or similar, small puzzles, small books of various kinds, small games, etc. These things can usually be found in dollar stores or in the dollar aisle at Target. A brand new toy which they have to unwrap can be something that amuses them for quite a while. One warning, we once left one of these behind on the plane and it caused many tears when it was realized some time after arrival. If a card or something does get lost try to find it and keep it until it has been forgotten about completely after returning home.

Remember, technology can't be used during take off or landing and it can be very upsetting to a child to be told that the tablet or game has to be turned off so having some non technology playthings is very important.

Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:59 pm

We took night flights probably more for the inexpensive fare than the sleeping opportunity. Sometimes we played cards but I was probably older -- 4 maybe -- when I learned my first games Old Maid (does this old game have a new name I hope?) or Go Fish or War (another re-naming opportunity) or solitaire -- the clock solitaire might fit on a tray table -- small cards and excellent fine motor helps. Not really "solitaire" with a young child because the adult will probably be moving the cards but I do remember being thrilled when "we" won the clock solitaire. Back in the day, we also were entertained by a real meal.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - I agree, keeping track of the small toys can be a challenge. We brought a few toy vehicles on the flight. It's no fun when they roll off a tray table or a seat.

Recently, we've taken flights that allowed us to use the iPad during both take-off and landing. It was a huge help.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 11, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

LJ - Yes, card games are fantastic. They were definitely packed in our suitcase. You are right, food is very important when flying with kids. It wasn't a full meal, but our son was very happy when snacks were passed out. It's always fun to get a treat mid-flight.

Posted by pre-Tech, a resident of Ventura,
on Sep 14, 2015 at 9:47 am

I would suggest caution in using an ipad as a pacifier. A pacifier is usually removed at/by a certain age but an ipad could become a life long security blanket.

As a single parent who flew two flights (12/8 hrs) yearly with my child in the pre-tech days, while it was exhausting entertaining my child who wouldn't sleep and who had plenty of energy, she grew up knowing how to entertain herself particularly while traveling and how to respect the people around her.

I read to her, played age appropriate travel games with her, she drew and colored, we quietly walked the aisles while everyone slept, she conversed with the stewards on the plane, even other passengers when they were open to it. I always saw it as time I could spend with my child. I admit, it was exhausting because I did every aspect of it on my own but well worth it. She was great to travel with, as a toddler, teenager and in between.

I understand the need to entertain but question how technology is used with very young kids and also the parents dependency on it. Do you think the ipad has become your security blanket when it comes to your child?

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Pre-Tech - It can be challenging to find a balance when using technology with little ones. For our family, flying with an iPad works great (as long as I remember to charge it). Our son can more or less entertain himself which means I can use most of my time and energy focusing on his sister and keeping her entertained and happy.

Of course other families with a 1 and a 3 year may fly without an iPad. And that's great too. But using an iPad while flying works for us.

Posted by Jeannie, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills,
on Sep 15, 2015 at 12:22 pm

I agree with Pre Tech, it's always best although not as easy to teach children from a very young age to color, draw, play quiet charade type games, and tell stories instead of resort to electronics. This works well in any power outage or on camp trips too, and I have always loved the "disconnect and reconnect" aspect and time with my children. I recall one air trip when I told my children an animated story from my youth, and they were fascinated, and used that as a springboard to make up their own imaginative stories. Love your blog!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Jeannie - Thanks for commenting. What a great memory! Childhood memories can be lots of fun to share.

Posted by Palo Alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:01 am

One fun thing we took on planes when my kids were small is rolls of scotch tape. You can build sculptures with it and it pulls off without damaging things. How often do you get to unroll a whole roll of tape?

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Sep 16, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Pali Alto Mom - Haven't tried it yet. But you are right, I've never given our son permission to unroll a whole roll of tape. Breaking rules can be quite fun.

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