Tips for Jet Lag {with kids}

I just wrote an article for another blog on recovering from jet lag.  Since summer is coming up and many of us will be traveling, I thought I’d throw some of those tips your way.  You’re welcome.  ;)

Our Background: Moving Overseas

Josh, Rebekah, Luke (2 years old and 4 months at the time), and I  moved overseas almost 2 years ago.  It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I’m not sure if I had post-partum with my babies or just felt out of control and anxiety-ridden, but I really did struggle.  Luke was born in April and we got a contract on our house that month, so we had to pack up and move earlier than we intended.  In the  midst of feeding Luke at 10pm, 2am, 5am, and 7am every night and morning like clockwork (I was still ursing then- maybe that’s why I gave it up!!), I had to wrap up my life and pack my favorite house.  I sorted through our stuff, deciding what was worth storing and what needed to be given away or sold.  I had to say good-bye not only to my stuff (I do love things, I am sad to say), but also to my friends and family.  This house and city were where we brought home our babies and made our community away from our family.  I was heart-broken.  So, after everything was packed, sold, give away, or stored, and after we lived with family for 2 months and then said good-bye, the real fatigue set in….right when we skipped several time zones to Scotland.  I was intimidated to say the least.  I had no idea what to expect or how to adjust.  I hope to alleviate that tension for any of you!!

Tips for Jet Lag Reduction

Jet lag is pretty miserable anyway.  Arriving already exhausted only makes it worse.  I always think that as adults, we can power through it and reward ourselves with a nap or Coke Zero or whatever it takes to muster up the energy to keep going.  On the flip side, kids just don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand what is going on or why they feel sleepy when they do.

In my opinion, protecting their sleep is essential.  Here are some of the ways we ensured they (and therefore we) got good sleep:

  • Count on 1 day for every hour of change.  We had a 6 hour change- therefore, it took about 6 days for everyone to be completely back on track and feeling well.
  • Be reasonable in your expectations- you can’t expect to regain 6 hours in 1 night, no matter how tired you are.  (see #1)
  • Eat meals on the NEW time schedule.  This will help your (ahem) bowels, as well as your ability to sleep at the new times.
  • Shorten naps- don’t allow yourself or your children to nap for long periods during the day (unless they are infants).  This will only prolong the nighttime troubles.
  • Decide on a course of action for middle of the night wakings- will you snack a bit, get a drink of water, watch a movie, etc.?  You’ll make better choices ahead of time than in the moment.
  • Get black out blinds- almost everyone sleeps better in a dark room.
  • Use white noise.  Chances are you’ll be sleeping at odd times, possibly when the world around you is up and about (and therefore making noise).  Thus, mask it with white noise and they even have jet lag sound machines.
  • Be patient- you’ll get on track, I promise.

Our experience

For us, we missed Texas night during the flight.  The kids got a few hours of sleep, but not nearly what they would have in a bed at home.  So, we arrived in Scotland at 10:30am (4:30am TX time).  We settled in, got lunch, and everybody went down for a nap from 12-3pm.  We woke everybody up, snacked them, and had dinner at 5:30 or 6pm.  That way, we were eating at the right times and awake most of the day.  Even thought the kids did go down at 7 or 8pm, it felt like another nap to them.  We have made the trip 3 times now in the past year and a half, and all 3 times, Rebekah and Luke have awakened for 2 hours during the night.  Once they got back to sleep, they slept in until we woke them at 11am.  It’s crazy, but their little bodies felt like it was 5am!  So, each day, we woke them up an hour earlier, until we were back on schedule.

Comments

  1. great post as usual!

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