How to build a sleeping tent on a plane when flying with kids
My five-year-old Dek is passed out in the seat next to me. I still look over at him and smile at this small miracle. His brother Ty is sleeping on the seat behind me with his dad. This may be the biggest miracle of all. My boys have never slept well in cars or anywhere else but their beds, but somehow we are able to convince them that they have to sleep on a plane when we take international flights. I don’t sleep a wink. Then again, I can’t fit in a tent on the plane either.
As we settled down after dinner on our flight from Washington, D.C. to Paris, the lights were still on throughout the plane. Even worse, I couldn’t get the TV to turn off in front of Dek. There was definitely a glitch in his system, even while we tried to watch movies together. I knew this kid was not going to shut down with so many distractions. He was used to a pretty dark room, sound machine and nothing else but his brother whining about having to go to bed in the next room.
Thankfully the natural plane noises took care of the sound machine part of our sleep routine. Anyone seated behind the engine has more than enough white noise to help them block out the ambient noises of their fellow passengers. After the seatbelt sign went off, I started collecting blankets. A mom has to do what a mom has to do when she is on a plane with a few hundred people who are eyeing her children nervously. Will these kids keep them up all night on their flight? Not if I could help it.
One blanket was all it took to build a tent around each of my boys. How did I do it? Simple.
- Tuck the top of your blanket into your child’s headrest.
- Lay the bottom of the blanket across the open tray table*
- Close the tray table and click it shut over the blanket
*Alternative- if you know the person in front of you, tuck the 2nd end of the blanket into their headrest. It shouldn’t bother them.
Voila– instant tent and darkness. We got this idea years ago when Ty, my three-year-old son, would not go to sleep unless he was in the ErgoBaby carrier. He was getting bigger and we knew we couldn’t walk the entire flight just to get him to sleep. My husband found an empty row a few seats back and built two blanket walls around him. As a baby he couldn’t see what was going on. My husband was able to put his arm near enough so that he could catch Ty if he fell, but not so that Ty noticed he was there. It was like a cozy little crib. We have tried some version of this ever since.
As we watched our boys fall asleep in their tents, my husband and I looked around at our fellow passengers. OK, so maybe they didn’t applaud. In fact, I probably would have shushed them all if they had. The boys were finally asleep. Anyone who woke them up would feel my wrath. There were a few other kids on our flight, including a six-month-old baby girl. I saw her dad walking the aisles with her wrapped up in a Moby. She was fast asleep. Oh how I remember those days when we couldn’t sit down. Hopefully they will find their own version of a tent for her soon. The parents might not get any sleep (I sure can’t sleep on planes!), but at least we won’t have cranky kids to deal with at two o’clock in the morning on our flight.
Have you ever come up with a crazy idea to get your kids to sleep in strange places?