Jet lag is not my friend. I know there are many articles that talk about preventing jet lag, but in my opinion, jet lag is inevitable. That being said, there are more and less effective ways of dealing with jet lag. I know that everyone is different, but instead of making a list of all the different things people say work wonders, I would rather take the time to write about things I know have worked for me and my family. And without further ado, here we go:
-Let your kids sleep on the ride over. Whether you are on the bus, train, or airplane, you should NOT try to keep your kids awake the entire time in hopes that they will sleep once you get to your destination. Kids need sleep, and traveling with sleep deprived children will make your entire family (and everyone else around you) cranky. They probably won’t get a full night of sleep since you are traveling, but three or four hours of rest can really go a long way.
-If you arrive in the day, try your best to wait until night to go to sleep. What is the best way to stay awake when every bone in your body is screaming for sleep? Stay busy! We start to unpack right away, not because we hate having suitcases around, but because it keeps our minds and bodies doing something which distracts us from wanting to sleep. We let the kids play with toys they haven’t played with in a while, or put on a movie they haven’t seen before.
-If you want, use melatonin pills. In the States, I know that they sell those under the tongue melts that are melatonin. But those have never really helped me or my kids sleep. When I was in Hungary I had a friend give me some coated melatonin pills that worked wonders for everyone in my family. Take one before you go to sleep at night (night being darkness or a bed time hour in your new time zone). I would give the kids half of one. You can also use Benadryll, which they have for children, but it actually makes my kids hyper, so be careful to test this out before hand!
-Give yourself a time cushion. There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere and sleep walking through an amazing sight you have been wanting to see all of your life. Give yourself a day or two to adjust as best as possible. It is good to reserve these days for visiting with people, because you can simply give your friends or family a call when everyone is awake and happy. Planning a strict calendar of events for the first few days can be disastrous when you have one or more small children with you.
-Leave your shades open so you wake with the sunlight. This helps to reset your internal clock.
-Go outside!! Nothing is better for dealing with jet lag than good old fashioned dose of Vitamin D, which means you need to get out in the sunlight. This can also be amazing for your kids. Take them to the local play ground and let them play until they are tired. Feed them some dinner, read a story together, and then put them to bed. I guarantee they will sleep longer than if you let them sit around the house all day.
-The Wizard needs food, badly. In other words, eat when you are hungry. There are a few things that are worse than being exhausted, and being exhausted and hungry at the same is one of them. Make sure you don’t starve yourself because you are waiting for the proper time to eat. If you don’t want to eat a full meal, that is fine, but make sure you are eating healthy snacks (junk food is not going to make you feel better, I promise). You also need to make sure your kids are eating when they are awake. If they are hungry, give them food.
-Take shifts. If you and your spouse are having a hard time sleeping at night and the kids are already on local time, take turns watching them. Naps are ok and do help, just limit them to less than two hours, or you are going to prolong your jet lag blues.
-Exercise. If you get a chance, do some sit-ups, go for a jog, or jump on an elliptical. Exercise makes you tired, and helps you sleep better when you do get to sleep.
Well, those are all of the things we do. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share them for everyone else in the comment area below. And remember, avoiding jet lag is not a good reason not to travel.