Jet lag + kids is not fun. It can take days or weeks to adjust to different time zones and each child adjusts differently. But, if you are prepared it can definitely be easier. This past summer we were in three different time zones in one week and it got a little bit crazy. But, here are a few things to think about if you are worried about jet lag.
1. Take an overnight flight and then immerse yourself in your new schedule right away. Set a routine, follow local mealtimes, and try to stay awake. If your kids need a nap, let them, but keep it short. We dragged our kids ALL over Amsterdam after we arrived. It was the middle of the night and it was hard to keep them going. But, our efforts definitely paid off later.
2. Hydrate. Lots of water. On the plane and in your new destination. This one is pretty self-explanatory. And, our kids were begging for water. So I think they felt the dehydration.
3. Get outside. Get sunlight. Get to a park. Move around. If you stop, you will want to sleep. We stopped and sat on a bench in the park and I literally thought I was gonna fall asleep right there. I really wanted to just go to sleep for days. But, it did help to stay outside and force ourselves to wander around.
4. Take it slow. Build in time to recover from travel and adjust to your new time zone. Don't expect to hit the ground running like you do when you travel without kids. We gave ourselves three days to adjust to our new time zone. We took it easy and didn't really plan a lot. We mostly just explored our new city and played at the park.
5. Plan for early mornings/late nights and nighttime disruptions. Have some quiet activities your kids can do if they wake up and some light snacks to eat. We made sure the kids had a few books nearby to look at when they woke up and we grabbed a quick non-sugar snack (my favorite thing was cheese or bread). Everything we read said that kids often wake up because they are hungry. We didn't interact with them much though and we mostly just encouraged them to get back to sleep. After a few nights they were on a pretty normal schedule.
Even when I'm prepared for jet lag, it still makes me a little anxious, especially because I know I'll be tired too. But, I try to remember I WILL sleep again, and so will my kids. We also tried to take advantage of our slightly disturbed schedule and stayed out later and explored Amsterdam after dark. We wandered the city, got treats, and stayed out past 10pm. So, even though our bodies were confused about the time we didn't let it stop us from enjoying our visit.
I'd love to hear your jet lag tips and good/bad experiences.