1. Seat the oldest kid by the window: I've always tried to seat our son by the window. When he was a baby and a toddler it was fun to look out the window together. Now that he has two younger sisters, a window seat gives him the most privacy and space. He can watch his shows without being disturbed by his sisters' more frequent snack and bathroom breaks.
2. Practice with headphones: My older kids are used to wearing headphones, but my youngest had never worn them before. She had no desire to wear them on the plane and ended up watching her shows on mute. While it entertained her, I'm sure she would have preferred sound.
3. Bring a tablet or phone for everyone, including yourself: We had two iPads and an iPhone to entertain my three kids. Although three devices seemed overkill, ideally I would have brought one for myself as well. I ended up watching the screen on the seat in front of me, but I would have preferred my own shows with subtitles (my toddler didn't want to wear her own headphones, but she definitely enjoyed grabbing at mine).
4. You can't see the screen two seats down: It was quite challenging for me to see my son's airplane screen. Thankfully he can read simple words and I was able to help him navigate the screen from afar, but it was much easier to monitor exactly what he was watching on the iPad.
5. Pack lightly...especially on the plane: We were on a full flight on our way home and I ended up checking some of my carry on bags for free. It was ideal to just have a diaper bag and my purse to deal with on the plane.
6. Pack light on toys and heavy on snacks: I told my older kids ahead of time that they were not going to have any toys on the plane. I didn't want to deal with hot wheels rolling under our seats, dropped crayons or accidentally leaving a toy behind. I brought just a slinky and a board book to entertain our one year old. I knew I needed something that I could easily pull out to entertain her if she got bored, but I didn't want anything with multiple pieces. She enjoyed seeing the slinky bounce and pulling it to make different shapes.
5. Snacks: While I tried my best to pack lightly, I made sure to pack plenty of snacks. We had a variety of goldfish, granola bars, chips, puffs, pouches, etc. Along with plenty of milk for all. I thought I brought enough snacks this time, but we ate most of them. Next time I'll bring even more food and milk.
6: Prepare for a delay: Both of my flights ended up being delayed, one for over 2 hours. Thankfully I had Lego sets to keep my older two kids happy at the airport. I wouldn't take Lego on the airplane, but it was perfect entertainment at the gate.
9. Don't overdo screentime ahead of time: One of our flights was delayed after we had already boarded the plane. I let our kids start their electronics right away, but I wish I had waited about 30 minutes. It would have made the last 30 minutes of the flight a little easier.
10. Don't make life harder for yourself: I told myself that no matter what happens I would not take away screen time from our kids for misbehavior. I would find another discipline strategy. Taking away screen time would just make my travel experience that much harder.
11. Find a way to stay entertained yourself: Sometimes you forget just how monotonous it is spending 4+ hours just trying to keep a toddler quiet. I was lucky that my toddler napped for over two hours on the flight home and let me watch two movies. But I should have packed a magazine or something else to entertain myself for brief spurts of time.
12. Relax: With three kids there are going to be ups and downs. Baby is going to cry, apple juice is going to spill or a flight will be delayed. You might misplace your ticket or drop puffs all over the floor. But, with young kids no one is expecting perfection. So many people offer to help and compliment you. I knew many eyes were on us, but so many people were not judging, they seemed to be remembering when they flew with their young kids or were just excited to see little ones.