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Six ways to handle your child’s midair meltdown

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Flying with small children is often fraught with tension. Children are unpredictable, even more so when confined to cramped quarters. And the stress of trying to quiet a screaming toddler is often amplified by the dagger-like stares coming from fellow passengers. While there may not be a playbook for handling pint-size petulance at 32,000 feet, pediatric behavioural experts and the Association of Flight Attendants offer insights into how to avoid, or at least contain, meltdowns.

Pre-trip prep

Relying on an iPad is tempting, but kids often have a hard time transitioning back to reality.
Relying on an iPad is tempting, but kids often have a hard time transitioning back to reality.  (Matt Cardy / GETTY IMAGES)

According to Margret Nickels, a clinical child psychologist and former director of the Erikson Institute Center for Children and Families in Chicago, preparation is key to prevention. She instructs parents to address stressors of plane travel — confinement in a small space, lack of control and interruption of routine — before heading to the airport.

Her advice? For children 2 and older, preface the trip with a chat about the (potentially overwhelming) sensory experiences related to airplane travel so they know what to expect. “Children like predictability,” explains Nickels. “Let them know that they must sit for a long time, hear strange noises, feel bumps, wear a seat belt and sit close to strangers.” According to Nickels, this narrative will reduce anxiety and help the parents refer back to that conversation (“Remember we talked about how you wear the seat belt until the pilot tells you it’s safe?”) when the child get antsy during the trip.

With that said, parents should prepare for meltdowns (plural) in the form of bribes. Sock away some stickers, new markers (the ones with scents go over well), a small toy your child has admired and special treats like the child’s favourite candy to nip a blossoming tantrum in the bud.

Set ground rules

Dr. Christopher Young, medical director of Wellmore Behavioral Health and Clinical Faculty at Yale University Department of Psychiatry, stresses the importance of setting ground rules before the flight. “There’s not much reasoning that can take place with babies,” he says. Just make sure they are comfortable and well fed. For older children, you can establish in-flight limits and boundaries by using safety as a rationale. For example, “It’s the captain’s rule to keep your seat belt on during the flight, that running in the aisle is dangerous and that kicking a seat hurts people.” But Young advises to offer positive alternatives to the “no” (Do you want to colour? Read a book? Play hangman?) to swiftly redirect the child’s attention.

Keep them busy (but watch that iPad)

A fact of parenthood: Children are easily bored. One recommended strategy is to keep your children busy so they do not react to the confines of the environment. Parents should be armed with books, developmentally appropriate games (colouring books, Legos, dolls) and electronics. But you can’t just plop these items down on the tray and dive into Netflix. Why? “Parents’ tuning out leads to kids’ acting out,” cautions Nickels. “You need to hold your child’s attention. Switch up their playtime-reading, stickers, drawing and make snack time an activity, not a detail.” Another potential land mine: hunger. Since a hungry child is a volatile child, it is essential to have easy-to-transport food (grapes, cheese sticks, goldfish crackers) on hand to keep blood sugar at optimal levels.

About those electronics. It is tempting to let an iPad or other tablet serve as makeshift baby sitter. But, nonstop electronics can backfire. Young posits that gorging on electronics can induce peevishness and tantrums. Nickels concurs: “Children do not transition rapidly from digital absorption to reality.” Without parent enforced breaks, kids fall into a daze ignoring hunger, thirst, the need to use the bathroom and exhaustion. Then, when the device is switched off, they go into “distress mode,” a professional term for a freakout. To avoid overstimulation, set usage limits (“You can watch two cartoons and then have a snack and read for a while”) before handing over the tablet.

Establish a rewards system

Rewards can encourage good behaviour. Nickels is a fan of the goody bag. She advises filling a small sack with four surprises to be distributed at specific points during the flight. Let your children know about the goody bag but not what is inside. This way, they can focus on a goal. Electronics can also be leveraged as a reward for good behaviour. Screen time can be earned by spending “X” amount of time doing other activities.

Use a flight attendant as a buffer

Of course, these strategies are not foolproof. So, what can you do if you are that parent with a child in full blown tantrum mode? You can’t blame fellow passengers for becoming irritated, especially if the parents are ignoring the situation. According to Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, passengers will have more empathy if they see that you are trying to diffuse the meltdown. So, standing up and delivering a statement like “I’m sorry my child is being disruptive, please bear with me” can help.

But sometimes things can get hostile. On a Jet Blue flight from Miami to Boston, a nearby passenger berated Becca Schoen when her 15-month-old daughter Leah became fussy and started crying. Recalls Schoen: “My daughter had missed her nap and was overtired. I was trying to calm her down — walking the aisle, rocking her — and after I sat down, just as Leah was settling down, a woman whipped around from the row in front and said ‘This is outrageous! You need to start walking her again!’ I was mortified. I went to the back of the plane with the baby and began crying myself.” In an aggressive situation like this, Nelson suggests reaching out to a flight attendant for support. “Flight attendants are trained to de-escalate conflict,” she says. “They can move a family, offer complimentary food or drink to the frustrated passenger or try to reason with the child themselves.”

Bribing your fellow passengers

Even if your child has not uttered a peep, some parents head conflict off at the pass by proffering gift bags to their fellow passengers with a cute note apologizing for unruliness in advance. George Clooney and his wife, Amal, famously handed out wireless noise cancelling headphones to the entire first class cabin on a flight with their infant twins in 2017. But, a less glitzy offering does the job just as well. Cambi Clarke prepared gift bags for passengers in the row ahead, the row behind and aisle seats abutting theirs, all containing an apology note along with chocolate, ear plugs and snacks. “I did not want to be that mom that everyone hates,” Clarke says. “It was a preventive measure that made me feel less anxious.”

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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