Coping With Kids And Jetlag

August 21, 2014
travelling with kids, jetlag, coping with jetlag, kids and jetlag

I’d just survived a long flight with young kids. We finally made it to the apartment where we were staying. I thought everyone would be exhausted and we’d immediately go to sleep. That was exactly what I did just to be woken up by some strange knocking from all directions. It turned out that all this time my kids had been awake and playing. When the neighbour from downstairs knocked to let us know we were too noisy, the kids thought it was a new game and they started knocking back. At least they were having fun… Another time my jetlagged two-year-old cried for hours and hours until a kind neighbour called the police to come and check for child abuse.

While it’s hard to predict what form jetlag will take for your kids, it’s a pretty safe bet that your life won’t get back to normal for a few days. Your kids may be waking up at night, feel sleepy during the day, get easily upset or play with boundless energy.

Jetlag is the body’s natural response to changing tie zones. You can’t avoid it entirely, but you can ease your children and yourself into the new time zone by taking a stopover half way. Not only you’ll give yourself a chance to adjust gradually, you may also be able to squeeze in things you’d usually find challenging with kids like a night safari or late dinner under the stars.

Here are a few tips to make getting over jetlag as easy as possible, once you’re at your destination:

  • Take it easy. Don’t plan much for the first few days to allow for erratic sleep patterns and behaviour.
  • Stay in bright sunlight as much as possible to help reset your body clocks.
  • If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, encourage them to go back to sleep or at least stay in bed in the dark.
  • Once the kids are awake for the day, try keeping them awake until bedtime or nap time.
  • Follow your normal routine as much as possible. Have meals at local meal times and if your kids get hungry at unusual times, offer snacks only. Stick to your usual bed time routine to let them know it’s bed time, even if they’re not feeling sleepy yet.
  • Get help, if possible. Take turns with your partner to look after the kids. Get family and friends on board if they are around. Depending on where you are, it may be well worth getting a babysitter just so that you can get a shuteye for a few hours. It will help you stay patient and keep your sense of humour.
  • If you’d like to avoid knocking and police visits, warn the neighbours that you have jetlagged kids. Tell them (and yourself!) that the next few days may be difficult, but everything will be back to normal very soon.

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By Tatiana Apostolova

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