Kids and Jet Lag

Jet Lag globeJet lag is, unfortunately, a huge, unavoidable inconvenience for my family. We travel from London to the west coast of America at least twice every year, which means we have to reckon with an 8-hour time difference each time we travel. My grandma has always said that it takes you as many days to get over jet lag as the amount of hours you’re off schedule. Which means, by her measures, it takes us at least a week to feel normal after traveling. Ugggh!

Of course, it’s always a bit easier when traveling west because your clock is gaining time, and it’s worse when traveling east because you lose time. We always do much better when we travel to the states than when we return. Also, it seems that kids are generally less affected by jet lag than adults, and if you’re pregnant it seems to really knock your socks off!

Here are my tips for dealing with jet-lag and getting your family back on track…

  • Reset your watches the minute you land, and start getting accustomed to the new time immediately.
  • Don’t take naps, and try not to let your kids take naps at odd times. When they do take a scheduled nap, don’t let them oversleep. (Seriously, pretend you haven’t flown across the globe and that you aren’t in a different time zone.)
  • If your kids wake up in the middle of the night and seem wide awake, try to keep them in their beds by giving them a few books to read. It always seems like my boys are wide, wide awake, but they always go back to sleep within an hour.
  • Try to get as much fresh air and natural sunlight as you can, and drink plenty of water. Your kids might not seem thirsty, but try to encourage them to drink.
  • Eat when you’re supposed to eat according to your new time. Again, your kids may not seem hungry but you should encourage them to eat.
  • If you have a baby, you should feed them on demand — they will get accustomed more quickly than you think. (I always nursed my babies whenever they woke during the night, and it seemed like they adjusted in just one day.)



Comments (7)

July 14, 2008

Thanks for the tips – I hope I’ll have the pleasure of dealing with a jet-lag soon! 🙂
(I want to go to NY!)

July 14, 2008

Jet lag is such a pain! Though it is always worth it if the destination is a beach with lots of sunshine!

July 14, 2008

I really needed a post like this, whenever we are thinking of were to go we sort of look only in those areas of the world with a +/- 2 hour difference….

July 28, 2008

Oh, we just got back from Ethiopia to the US and we’re experiencing all this right now. It was a 13 hour flight just from Dubai to JFK and my 4yo is hurting right now and I am worse. Thanks so much for the tips!

April 25, 2012

Thanks for the tips! They are clear and practical. We are flying from Spain to Orlando USA with 5 kids (2 of my own and 3 of my sister in law as we are in a big family trip). Ages of the kids are from 8 to 3 years old. I will certainly use your tips to adjust to the new time zone!!.

April 29, 2013

I have just travelled from UK to cayman islands and my 9 month old seemed to have no problems adjusting on the way over but we have been back now for 4 nights and she is very unsettled at her normal bedtime. She seems sleepy and should be but when put in her cot she cries and the process of getting her to sleep is taking up to 3 or 4 hours. I am beginning to think that it might not be jet lag but surely it has to be. She sleeps normally like a dream and before this went down every night at 7pm and slept till 7am. Any one got any advice?

September 6, 2013

[…] any tips I may have forgotten below.  And lastly, I’ve written my tips for beating jet-lag here if you’re […]

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