My friend Erin is an American living in the UK, and regularly travels back to the US with her 2.5 year old girl and 1 year old boy. These are her top tips for helping her children get over Jetlag following her latest trip to Montana in January 2014.
The best advice I’ve got for jetlag is ‘The Fight Club Rule’ i.e. the first rule of jetlag is don’t talk (or think) about it. This worked pretty well for me until I had to deal with a jetlagged 2 year old and 1 year old on my latest trip. For them, trying to tough out the first few days and ignoring the urge to sleep isn’t an option. And whilst I haven’t found any quick fixes to avoid jetlag with young children, I have found that there are a few things that make adjusting to a new time zone a little easier on all of us.
1. Have middle of the night snacks ready.
Kids eat when they’re hungry – and when it’s lunch time in their tummies it’s lunch time no matter what the clock says. I try not to stress about what they eat when they’re adjusting to a new time zone and have lots of ‘any time food’ ready such as bananas, toast, raisins and rice cakes.
2. Try to enjoy it
Being awake at awkward times can be frustrating but I find it’s worse if I fight it. I often first let the kids play and then watch quiet television while I read or upload photos from the day. I try to think of it as ‘bonus’ time when we can do what we like.
3. Plan activities for the ‘best awake times’.
The first few days after a long flight, I try to plan things for when ‘local awake time’ and ‘home awake time’ overlap. This should be the time when the children are the most awake and feel their best.
4. Get as much fresh air as possible.
This always holds true for my kids, but with jetlag I always feel the more daylight they can soak up the more quickly they adjust.
5. Limit naps
This may seem like an obvious one, but more than a few times I’ve thought, ‘Great! They’ve gone to bed HOURS earlier than last night’ only to find that nope, it was a 3 hour nap and they’re up and ready to go when I’m ready for bed. The ‘one day for every hour of time difference rule’ seems to hold true for my kids. It usually takes about 8 days to settle in completely to an 8 hour time difference.
Erin runs the fantastic Yorkshire Tots website, which details events, classes, and news about family activities in West Yorkshire.