Think of the worst flight you've ever had. You probably had a little kid sitting behind you, kicking your seat while the mother of said child cradled another scared toddler who was screaming all throughout takeoff and landing because someone forgot to remind the youngest kid to swallow and pop her ears.
Or, you've been moved to pray for safe landing because the kid sitting across the aisle from you continues to ask what would happen if the plane fell from the sky. If you've ever been the parent of these children, you have sworn to yourself that you'll never take another plane ride with kids again; and just wait until they grow up to take another vacation.
Luckily for you, it doesn't have to be that hard. If you can prepare beforehand, you'll have a much smoother traveling experience that won't leave you in a fit of frustrated tears.
If the flight isn't long, there isn't even an in-flight movie anymore that can keep the kids entertained. Therefore, you need to bring your own sources of entertainment.
If you have an iPad or smart phone the kids can play games on, that's a great addition to the entertainment pile. As long as something is moving in front of them, they will stay occupied for a long time.
Even though airport food is totally overpriced, hunger is one of the primary reasons why kids get cranky. They can't last as long without food or drink as adults can, so keeping their favorite treats at hand can help keep them calm.
Your kids will probably slow you down, and they will want to sit and watch the planes take off to build a sense of comfort for when their plane takes off. Also, rushing the kids and acting stressed out will only stress them out. Therefore, make sure you give yourself plenty of time once you get to the airport.
Bring the Comforts of Home
If your child has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, make sure you carry that. Having some of the comforts of home can help your child sleep on the airplane, and can also make him or her feel more comfortable. Being reminded of home is one of the best ways to calm a traveling child.
If you have toy airplanes with little figurines that can get on them, you can use the toys to play "airplane" and show the children what people do and how they act. This knowledge can make them less nervous and, therefore, better behaved.