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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Caution! There's a Toddler on This Flight

Brie and I leave today for Australia. That is not a short trip from Virgina.  It could be a very interesting plane ride.  What I am excited about though, are all the opportunities for her to explore and learn.  There is nothing like a new environment to spark curiosity and promote development.

It isn’t just about the destination, an airport, and even the dreaded airplane ride, can be wonderfully stimulating for a toddler.  Sometimes I am too caught up in the waiting, or my own anxieties, to notice the fun to be had.  When I let that go and focus instead on what my toddler is experiencing we can both relax and learn together.

What toddler would not be excited to be able to run endless circles around my bags, or climb the rows of seats that line the terminal? (For the sake of my co-passengers, I will try to find an empty lounge to “explore” today.) We also purchased a colorful book about Australia so that we can explore the unique places and animals that are there.

Consider the the miracle that is modern flight.  We take it for granted, but if your toddler wanted to know how planes fly, could you explain the science behind it? Do you know the names of all the parts on the airplane?  Even the exercise of asking a flight attendant a question about the plane is a learning experience.

Fine Motor Skills
No need for me to spend money on boards that give practice with zippers, buttons, and snaps, we have all of that ready made on our suitcase.  Our last flight was delayed 2 hours and much of that time was spent playing with the suitcase.  If only Brie was ready for shoe tying, all that free time and no where to go would make it perfect for practice.

The Skill of Sitting Still
When it really is time to sit down and be quiet, I have some favorite books, snacks, and our secret weapon; the ipad.  We try to save the ipad for special occasions such as this, so that we maximize its ability to mesmerize.  I have it loaded up with “educational” games, and videos (but I don’t kid myself, the goal is to keep her entertained and still).  I suspect that it will be my saving grace for this 20+ hour flight.

Wish me luck!  I’ll be sure to let you all know what fun and exciting experiences we have down under!


  1. Love your suggestions! I found you from the link you left on Ilana's flying post...I'm taking my 2 and 4 YO to London from Pittsburgh in a few weeks...either it will be a full on success (my plan) or a complete failure and we will be quietly escorted from the country (my husband's fear!)

    1. Good luck! I hope you have another set of adult hands to help manage 2 toddlers! We had a great (uneventful) trip to Sydney (24+ hours of travel) - but a rougher trip back.
      Turns out that my daughter loves being in the backback and would fall asleep that way in the airport. It worked out much better than using the stroller as I have on previous trips. (I actually manged to clear customs with my carry-ons, checked bag AND checked car seat, without begging for help - because she was strapped on.) But she definitely still needed to stretch and run around.
      Hope your trip goes great!