Our flight from Seattle to Germany was was long, boring, miserable, and eventful. Trying to entertain a preschooler on a transatlantic flight can be very tricky!
With about eleven hours of flying time, I wanted to make sure my son had enough stuff to keep him occupied. But is there ever really enough for a bored, tired, anxious 3 year old to do when he has been up for 18 hours? Oh, the misery of being cooped up with a preschooler who won’t sleep, use the airplane bathroom, or stay quiet while everyone else is trying to sleep on the flight. Since my husband was already in Germany, my amazing Dad offered to accompany my son and me on the trip over.
We did have about 5 hours of peaceful bliss while he was enjoying the contents of what I packed for him, and before he was just too tired and restless. So, let me share what went well, and I’ll just pretend the rest of it never happened + 2 thumbs up+
Packing the Carryon
Ok, first I went out and bought about $50 worth of new toys and snacks. Yes, I know, shame on me, but if you had flown the flights I have, you would just nod along and say: Yes, good, $50 worth of new toys and snacks.
Then I took them all out of the packages (huge waste of space when packing a carryon) and wrapped them up to be opened on the plane. The brown paper wrapping was used for candy so I could let him open those ones after snacks throughout the flight.
Here’s a close up of some of the toys. I tried to get things that could be enjoyed quietly or take awhile to put together so the entertainment value would last.
My dad flies often and is accustomed to having all the perks and none of the lines. Sorry about the 40 minute wait for security, Dad. He kept turning around and saying: This is ridiculous! My son kept trying to escape by low crawling on the dirty airport tile. But he did get to
write his name scribble on a luggage tag, which he was really proud of.
The Easy Hours
The first hour of the flight was spent enjoying the new games on his new LeapPad. (He opened it the night before so he could get the hang of how to play the games.)
And he enjoyed showing his bunny Lemmiwinks around our row.
Of course a 3 (and a half) year old can’t put an 18 piece transformer together all by himself, so my dad had to lend a hand. It was a good quiet activity and I’m glad we saved most of them for when the lights were dimmed so that everyone (but us) could get some sleep.
He loved opening up Marshall and his fire truck, and then getting to watch the show on the kindle – PAWS Patrol for the win!
The International Layover
We had a really short layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. After briefly falling asleep on the descent, he woke up SCREAMING bloody murder for the entire 20 minutes of landing. I think it was a perfect storm of having refused to use the bathroom for 8 hours, being midnight in the time zone we had been in, and just wanting to get the hell out of his seat belt. As we entered the airport in a dreamlike stupor, he threw up his hands, tears in his eyes and said: This isn’t Germany! followed by a pitiful sob. I got an empathetic laugh from a passerby, which gave me just enough gusto to carry the little screamer through customs and onto the next plane.
At that point I took him to the bathroom and insisted that he use it. While he screamed, I’m sure everyone on the plane thought I was beating him, but eventually he went, and the plane took off.
There was a beautiful sunrise, and even though none of us had really slept, it was exciting that we were almost in Germany!
He was out cold for the last hour of the short(er) flight. Actually we were the last people to walk down the stairs of the plane and board the bus to the terminal. He slept all the way to baggage claim. Why couldn’t he sleep like that on the flight?!
But as miserable as those few dark hours were, we made it to Germany and I will never have to fly with a 3 year old for eleven hours ever again. +fingers crossed+
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Have you ever entertained a preschooler on a transatlantic flight?