Holidays to other parts of the world are great – a chance to see new places, experience different cultures and foods, meet new people or just get away from it all. But holidays change completely once we have children and take them on holiday with us. Gone are the days of closing our eyes and snoozing away the days by the pool/sea, or slowly wondering the cobbled streets and browsing in little shops. Gone are the nights of sipping cocktails and wild partying.
Instead we have to take into consideration what we are going to do with our little people in these new places, how they are going to react to their new surroundings, change in routine, different food and travelling. Some babies and children take it all in their stride and just get on with it, they sleep wherever they are lain, and eat whatever is put in front of them. They coast into new time zones with no ill effects whatsoever.
For others, it isn’t so easy. Not only is their routine thrown out, and the change in temperature unsettling, but the time change and associated jet lag can make the holiday, less of a holiday and more like a week in hell. But like all things sleep related – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!!
Here are some tips to help with dealing with jet lag and time changes:
Going Back in Time (USA, Canada, Caribbean)
Always get your head into the local time of where you will be landing as soon as you get onto the plane.
Allow your little one to sleep as much as they want to on the plane (if at all).
When you get to your destination, work out where in the day you are for naps or bedtime. Your aim is to allow your child to have brief naps until it is an hour or so later than their ideal bedtime on the first night, and then put them to bed.
If they are still under 3 years and having long naps during the day, you can allow them to have their usual naps plus additional brief naps to get them through to bedtime. But don’t let them sleep for any longer than they normally would at any one nap as they will then struggle to get onto local time.
Whatever their age, expect them to wake at around 4AM for the first day or two. This is normal, but will stop after a few days as long as you don’t let them have lots of extra sleep during the day.
EG. Day 1 – get off the plane at 4PM local time – allow under 3’s to have 2-3 20 minute power naps and over 3’s to have 1 power nap – bed at 8.30PM local time.
Day 2 – Awake at 4AM – under 3’s have their usual naps plus 2-5 power naps in between and over 3’s have 1-3 power naps – bed at 8.00/8.30PM.
Day 3 – Awake at 4/5AM – under 3’s have their usual naps plus 2-5 power naps in between and over 3’s have 1-2 power naps – bed at 8.00/8.30PM.
Day 4 – Awake at 6AM – under 3’s have usual naps plus 1-3 power naps in between and over 3’s have 1 power nap – bed at 7.30/8.30PM.
These times are to illustrate how you can get through the first few days, but feel free to call me to check your timings before you go away.
Travelling Forwards (Europe, Middle East, Asia, Australia)
If you are moving less than 3 hours forward, keep your children on UK time!!! This will mean that they can “stay up later” and will therefor sleep in later. EG. 7PM bedtime becomes 9PM, and 6PM wake-up becomes 8PM. You can all go out to dinner together!
If you are travelling to a country that is more than 3 hours ahead, it is a bit more tricky. Instead of moving the full number of hours forwards, it can be better to just go 2 or 3 hours so that you don’t have such a big change when you get home.
If you have an under 3 who is still napping in the day, you will need to restrict their naps so that thso they are likely to go to bed and then wake up after an hour or two.
Keep them up and wear them out! The older they are, the harder they will find it to fall asleep at their bedtime in a new time zone, as it is actually the middle of the day for them, so be patient, keep them busy and let them go to bed later than usual, bringing bedtime forwards by half an hour to an hour each day, until they are going to bed at a time that suits you.
Wake them up in the morning! Work out what time you want the day to start and get everyone up at that time. Under 3’s are likely to want to fallasleep again quite early in the day and make up their lost night sleep in naps, but don’t let them. Instead let them power nap when they want to sleep and wake them after 20 minutes.
Wherever you are travelling to, try to remember that children have no real concept of time. Their body-clocks are set and
can be tricky to change, so try to be patient whilst encouraging them to change. If they wake up at 4AM, it’s not their fault – it’s actually yours for taking them to another time zone!
And on the other hand – what’s wrong with Cornwall???