So I'm going to go back to the holiday briefly, I know I know I said that was it, but I thought I would share some of my experience of flying with Theo.
The first time we flew with Theo he was about 5 months, and it was a relatively short flight to Barcelona. I was told that if they can suck on something then it helps relieve some of the air pressure changes with taking off and landing which may cause them discomfort, so as I was still breastfeeding this worked out well. Also Theo was still sort of young enough to not have set nap times, and could still sleep anywhere. I fed him as we took off and as far as I remember he slept for a lot of the flight, and fed again as we landed. There wasn't any screaming anyway! I think this is a good age to fly with them, as they are alert enough to be distracted with toys if they are getting a bit fussy, and still young enough to sleep and not be distracted by other people/nosies etc.
Now this time was a little different. The flight was twice as long, and we now know that Theo is a highly active toddler who detests sitting still and being confined. To say I was dreading the flight was a little bit of an understatement. Plus we had a very early wake up, leaving the house at 4, which did have an effect on the sleeping routine we've been working hard on! He managed to stay awake at the airport whilst we were waiting to board the plane, but did want to walk around everywhere, which was pretty tiring! When we eventually got to board the plane, he was looking pretty tired thankfully.
We had stocked up on snacks, toys and books and had the Ipad loaded with a few films and 'In the night garden' episode as well as a few games. I think that's the key at this age, constant distraction!
When we got our seats we sat on a row of three with my mum, Rob and me in the middle. But later on in the flight we realised that it wasn't full and could probably have got away with having a row to ourselves, just me Rob and Theo. But anyway, as I'm still nursing Theo I was able to settle him down just before take off and he fell asleep on my lap. But having a 16 month asleep on your arm for a long (short) period of time isn't the most comfortable, especially on a cramped plane and especially when you really need to sleep too! But anyway I think he slept for nearly an hour, which was good enough. After that we tried all manner of things to entertain him, even some porridge (which he wasn't interested in!) but found that all he really wanted to do was walk up and down the aisle. This wasn't a problem as long as the air hostesses weren't doing the rounds, and he really enjoyed waving to all the other passengers, and in fact was probably less intrusive for them than a screeching baby! Rob at some point went to sit in an empty seat so we could have a little more space, and I nursed him on and off. My Mum played a game of opening and closing the window blind for quite a long time, which seemed to entertain him! So it wasn't that bad after all. There were no crying fits, and only a tiny but of screeching, but of the excited kind!
So the flight home was even better than the first. Learning from our previous mistake of all sitting together, we checked the night before to see if the flight was fully booked, and it wasn't, so we managed to get a row to ourselves. I sat by the window and Rob by the aisle. Luckily too this flight coincided with Theo's nap time, so he was ready to sleep by the time we had boarded. Again I nursed him just before take off, and when we were in the air and he was nicely asleep I eased him off my lap onto the empty seat in the middle. He then slept for nearly two hours, which was great! We had made sandwiches for him to eat with more snacks too, but again he was more interested in looking at everyone else after he woke up. The flight was also luckily half an hour ahead of schedule which was very pleasing indeed! We had a little play on the Ipad, watched a few things, ran up and down the aisle and peered over the back of the seat to Yaya and Andy behind. All was very civilized apart from the screeching (let's face it, that's never going to go away...)
So all in all, both flights were fairly successful. But I seriously don't know how I'd manage either a) on my own, or b) on a flight longer than 3 and half hours. Also I think nursing still helped, but I guess either a bottle of milk or squash might help too, or a dummy.
I'm not sure if this will be of any help to anyone, but thought I would share my experience of flying with a toddler for those of you who might be embarking on summer holidays soon! I was dreading ours, but I think the excitement of it all took over from frustration!
One more tip, we always touch the outside of the plane as we board. I don't know why, but it's a tradition, and I ALWAYS have to do it. A good luck ritual perhaps.