How to make flying with a toddler more bearable

JetKids BedBox
JetKids BedBox 

After almost three years of living in Canada, it was time to pack our bags, bundle up our three children (including our two-and-a-half-year-old toddler) and pray to the heavens above before flying to Aussie Land to see our family and friends.

To say I was apprehensive about the trip would be an understatement.

I spent many a night under the dim glow of a single light bulb, gnawing my fingernails down to their cuticles while scouring sites for tips on how to make flying with a toddler more bearable.

JetKids BedBox
JetKids BedBox 

And then, I stumbled upon this wondrous invention called the BedBox*.

This mini-suitcase comes on wheels to help keep kids entertained in the airport. Once you're in the air, you then pop the lid off and it becomes like an extra shelf that lies flush against your seat, making the seat effectively longer.

When you then put the little mattress it comes with on top, it turns into a mini-bed.

JetKids BedBox
JetKids BedBox 

Immediately, I knew I had to get my little paws on one.

At the airport, my toddler loved sitting on top of her BedBox and having her slaves (a.k.a siblings) wheel her along. She also enjoyed riding it (when her slaves became less willing to pull her).

Occasionally she mixed things up by hopping down and dragging the BedBox behind her, treating it like a pet on a leash (whatever tickles your fancy, my love).

Before we knew it, we were on our first flight, a five-hour trip from Toronto to LA.

When we opened the BedBox, Toddler went from a kid with her legs dangling over the edge of an economy seat to a rock star reclining back on her own bed.

She grinned at her siblings like she was De Boss.

But just because she was comfortable didn't mean all our problems were solved. We still needed to keep our wee one entertained.

We did that by reading to her, turning on movies, talking about the plane ('Wow, did you see this armrest, sweetie? It goes up and down!'), walking her up and down the aisles and giving her plenty of snacks.

That kept her entertained for, oh, about 20 minutes.

So then we pulled out the big guns.

The 'big guns' were little bits of plastic junk (a.k.a 'presents') which we had wrapped individually in newspaper to make each one seem more fun (and to make the activity of unwrapping each one take longer). They were things like a small plastic doctor's kit, stickers, stamps, mini packs of play-doh etc. Boy, were these a hit.

But still, we had the biggest hurdle to face.

On our second flight (LA to Melbourne), the cabin lights dimmed and people around us headed off to la-la land.

I looked at Toddler. She looked at me. The Sleep Challenge was on.

Turns out Toddler was already so exhausted, she was out before we knew it.

While the BedBox didn't give her enough space to lie down completely flat (because, let's face it, the space between a seat and the one in front of it in economy isn't that big), she managed to sleep comfortably for six hours. I know.

On the return flight, a day flight from Melbourne to LA, Toddler was happy to see her BedBox again.

"Look mummy, you found my bed!" she announced gleefully when I set it up.

After a few hours of being entertained, she then eased into another impressive eight-hour sleep.

Needless to say, I was doing my happy-mama-dance at this point.

Mind you, like all things Toddler, things were not sunshine and roses the whole time.

On our second flight home (the five-hour LA to Toronto trip), Toddler was overtired and simply Over It. It was around this time that I wished I'd heeded other people's advice to break the flying up by doing a stopover for a day or two.

Nothing could cheer Toddler up. And trust me, we tried. It didn't matter how comfortable her set-up was, nor how many presents we tried to fling her way; all she wanted was to be off the plane.

As soon as she disembarked, Toddler reverted back to her usual, happy self (cheerfully dragging her 'pet' BedBox behind her).

At that point, I was deliriously happy to be back on solid ground, too.

But that's only because I didn't realise how bad jet lag would be with a toddler. (Hint: It involves lots of Peppa Pig at 2am).

But that's another story …

* The author was provided with a complimentary BedBox to review, however all opinions stated in the article are her own. All images supplied by BedBox.