Jetlagged kids… we’ve all been through it. Whether it’s trying to settle a wide awake baby at 2am or sticking your toddler in front of the TV at 5am while you get some much needed sleep. Either way, jetlag is nobody’s friend. However, don’t let it stop you from planning your trip of a lifetime. I know many people who have curtailed plans for a big trip because they can’t face the idea of coping with a jetlagged family. My sister-in-law sought my advice for her recent trip with my six month old nephew. My top tip is really just to adjust to the local time zone as soon as possible. As tempting as it is to fall into an exhausted sleep, particularly if you’ve come off a longhaul flight, it pays greatly to set that alarm and get out in daylight.
As far as I know (but do correct me if I’m wrong), there’s still no official means to ‘cure’ jetlag. However, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – my 10 top tips to overcome it.
- KNOW what you’re in for. Flying from West to East (i.e UK to the Far East or Hong Kong to the US) is harder as your body finds it more difficult to deal with a shorter day than a longer one. For example, it takes my kids about 3 days to adjust when I’m back in the UK. However, on our return to Hong Kong, their jetlag can take anything up to 9 days to get over.
- PLAN your flights well. Pick a flight that might make jetlag easier. When I fly from Hong Kong back to the UK, I normally choose an overnight flight. We arrive in the UK at 6am and I try to get my kids on to UK time as soon as possible. Arriving in daylight is better to beat jetlag.
- PLAN your accommodation well. For the first few nights of a road trip, I pick a cheaper hotel or self serviced apartment where I can get 2 bedrooms or a 1 bed suite. Jetlag is difficult to deal with if you’re all sleeping in the same room. Alternatively if you are travelling with a baby in the same hotel room, you might want to put the travel cot in the bathroom (providing this room is ventilated).
- FACTOR in jetlag to your itinerary. If you are doing a big road trip after a long-haul flight, know that you might have a tricky first few nights. Don’t necessarily rush to hire that car. Think about staying in an airport hotel for one night or at least basing yourself in the same location for the first few days.
- CHANGE the time on your watch as soon as you arrive at your destination. However, I do keep the old time on my phone for the first few days so that I can keep track of when my baby would have needed feeds/naps at home.
- HELLO SUNSHINE! Daylight has been proven to help regulate your bodyclock back to normal. Even if you’re exhausted and want to cocoon yourself in your hotel room, take the kids out for a walk around the block.
- GET the kids onto local time asap. I usually allow Day 1 to be slightly more relaxed as we’re all likely to need naps after a long haul flight. However, Day 2 onwards, I won’t let the kids sleep during the day any more than their usual routine.
- FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD. Keep your kids topped up on healthy snacks in addition to regular mealtimes on the plane and first few days. If you are travelling with a baby, don’t be afraid to give more milk than usual. When my baby wakes in the night on the first few days of vacation, I always offer a warm bottle of milk to help resettle her.
- PUSH back the kids bedtime for the first few days. I find if I put them to bed at 8/9pm rather than 7pm then they are more likely to go through the night.
- DRUGS. I ocasionally give the kids a little medication at night to make them drowsy. Either a Calpol or antihistamine e.g. Piriton. One one mum’s forum, a lady wrote that if her older kids woke in the night, she gave them chewable dramamine and it worked like a charm.
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