The moment has finally arrived – that overseas holiday with the kids that you’ve been planning forever. It’s time for making unforgettable memories, but first you need to deal with the dreaded jetlag, which accompanies a new time zone in a different country.
“Holidaying abroad is exciting but the jetlag resulting from a temporary disruption of our sleep-wake cycles can leave one feeling irritated, tired and, at times, unwell. While it may be an inevitable part of travelling, there are some strategies to put in place to help you and especially the kids cope with time changes,” says frequent flyer, Amanda Rogaly, Chief Mommy and founder of online parenting portal, BabyYumYum.
Tips for helping kids with jet lag
Here are Amanda’s go to tips when travelling with her two little girls:
Adjust your body clock
We have a natural clock over a 24-hour period which tells our bodies when to eat, sleep and wake. To accommodate the new time zone, you will want to start moving your child’s bedtime 15 or so minutes earlier or later – depending on the direction of the holiday time zone.
“Start about three days before your trip and do your best to maintain this time regimen while travelling,” says Amanda, who suggests that for a drastic time difference of a 12-hour period, the sliding of time needs to start a couple of weeks or so before the holiday date.
Act as if…
The plane makes an ideal parameter for literally applying the new time zone. “Set your watch to the new time. Kids will find it less challenging to adjust given the new environment of the plane,” says Amanda. This means adapting meals and sleep schedules as much as possible to be in sync with the new time zone.
Favourite cuddle item
Whatever it is – a blankie, special cushion, soft toy – bring it on board. Children feel more secure with a familiar object.
“If it’s associated with bedtime, even better,” says Amanda. “The sooner the kids adjust to the new time, the easier it will be, and you’ll be grateful for all the help you can get to achieve just that.”
While air travel can cause mild dehydration, this also worsens the symptoms of jetlag. It’s best to have bottled water and stay away from beverages such as coffee or alcohol, which can disrupt your sleeping patterns.
The emphasis should be on comfort. Keep this in mind when deciding what to wear. It is also a good idea to be prepared for any spills or messes, so take an extra change of clothing to be on the safe side.
Book an overnight flight so that you arrive in daylight of the new time zone, which helps with your sleep-wake cycle.
“As parents we need to be realistic. Factor in jetlag. Accept that it’s something you’ll have to deal with the first couple of days,” says Amanda. “Do your best to extend staying awake until it’s nighttime of the new time zone. That will help your body adapt more quickly to the new cycle.”
While jetlag is certainly a physical reality, deciding ahead of time that you’re going to manage it as best as possible and mentally preparing for it can actually make a difference, lessening the severity of the experience.
“Brace yourself. Know that it’s going to be a process rather than an instant fix. While all kids have different needs and reactions, these tips should jumpstart your holiday and help you and your family to adapt quickly to the new time zone so that you can focus on making lifelong memories,” concludes the BabyYumYum founder.