Travelling with small children really is, for a lot of us, the stuff parenting nightmares are made of. Plane travel? Just the thought of it is enough to see me rocking gently in the corner.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the look of pure hatred in a strangers eyes, I’d highly recommend taking your kids on long haul flights.
But sometimes it’s necessary. It’s unavoidable and in order to get to a lot of idyllic holiday destinations it’s the gauntlet that you must run in order to earn that happy hour mojito by the pool.
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I’ve only got three kids. By most standards I guess that would be a large troop but not compared to Madeleine West, AKA Supermum, who has well and truly earned her place as Australia’s most organised mother.
Together with her husband, celebrity chef Shannon Bennett, Madeleine commands a six strong tribe of kids under eight and yep, she even takes them on planes.
So when Madeleine opens the parenting vault and lets us inside, you take your notepad and pen because these tricks of the trade are ones that all of us can adopt when it comes to keeping kids entertained and quiet on plane journeys.
Image: Channel Nine
Madeleine's secret, she writes for Kidspot, is what she calls a ‘sack of distractions’ (mind out of the gutter, please).
The sack of distractions is “a bag, preferably a large sealable plastic bag or container (so they can see the contents and therefore are not tempted to rummage around, spilling most of it on the floor, in their seat, and on the poor guy in 18B who had no idea he would be spending a prolonged period trapped next to a semi-trained monkey at the start of his holiday) filled with goodies you know they will love and, more importantly, will keep them distracted for the duration of the trip.”
But there are rules to the sack of distractions.
Nothing in the sack of distractions should cost more than two dollars.
Think things like play dough, pencils, small memory games and packets of stickers. Wisely she also says that all of the items should be disposable so that you can turf them at the end of the holiday once they have fulfilled the desired need of keeping the kids busy in transit.
Should have got that sack ready. Image: istock
For bribery, Madeleine also includes one food treat such as a lolly pop or a chocolate.
Most importantly though, she says that parents should remain in control of the sack, bringing it out once the plane has stabilised and the seat belt sign has been turned off and monitoring how your child plays with each thing.
“Only allow your child to pull out and play with one item at a time, and each item must be played with for at least 10 minutes before moving on to the next. Otherwise, your child will invariably empty the entire contents onto their tray table, muck about with the lot, and be whining they are bored again within the hour."
The last rule for the sack of distractions? In order to space out the activities Madeleine says that you should take the sack away during mealtimes to allow kids the chance to eat a proper meal before they get back to the play.
Madeleine for the mum win.
Get a taste of Madeleine West's very organised family chaos, here: