How to Help your Kids Adjust to Time Change While on Vacation

If you’ve ever flown across time zones, you will know how it can be hard to adjust to time change.  And that jet lag can affect not only your head, but your whole body.  Moving into another time zone can especially impact kids as they often live or die by their daily routine.

Adjusting to time change is all about resetting your internal clock and more importantly your child’s internal clock.  Young children can’t tell the time to know when to eat, they just know because their tummy tells them they are hungry.  From our travels, we have learned some tips on how to help you and your kids adjust to time changes while on vacation. 

how to help kids adjust to time change on vacation

Sleep on the plane

Most  transatlantic flights are overnight flights from North America and you arrive at your destination in the morning.   You want to try and use the flight time to get some shut eye so that you aren’t arriving at your destination exhausted.

For the kids, we like to set things up so that they are prepared to sleep.  While at the gate waiting for the plane to load, we take the kids to the washroom, have them brush their teeth and put in them their pajamas.

On the plane it can be difficult for the little ones to get comfortable enough to sleep.  When we are travelling with a car seat, we like to bring it on the plane since the kids can easily fall asleep when sitting in their car seat.   With infants, most airlines have bassinets available for infants under 10kgs (22 lbs) who aren’t yet sitting up. We also like to have the baby carrier with us so the baby can sleep on us.

Set your schedule to the new time

It used to be that you set your watch to the new time, but no one wears a watch anymore. The nice part is that your phone will change itself to the new time!  Kids thrive on routine and schedules and  this doesn’t change when you are travelling.   If you normally eat lunch at noon at home, make sure you eat lunch at noon on vacation. By adjusting to the new time zone right away this will help the kids adjust their internal clocks.

Now if your child normally goes to bed at 7 pm at home and you want to push that out whilst on vacation – go for it. This should have the added benefit of them sleeping in longer in the morning.  Just make sure to shift their nap time and meals to the adjusted schedule.

Take a short nap

There is no way we would make it through the day without taking a short afternoon nap. You don’t want to over do it.  A couple of hours tops should help you get through the rest of your day.   While most advice on jet lag is to the contrary, keep in mind that nothing is going to ruin your day more than an over tired child.

If you have a child who naps regularly at home, try to time the nap for that same time in your new time zone.   If you plan on pushing out their bedtime while away, make sure you push out the nap by the same amount of time.  For kids it’s not about the actual time that things take place but more about the number of hours in between.

Go exploring

Go out exploring to get as much fresh air and sunlight as you can on that first day.   Once we get settled into our lodging, we like to make the next stop the local park.   This gives us the opportunity to explore the immediate neighbourhood  and let the kids run around and be free.

Melatonin at bedtime

This one is strictly for the adults!  Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body to sleep.   Taking it just before bedtime can help you fall asleep and should keep you asleep until morning.  Nothing helps you beat jet lag better than a good nights sleep!

What are your tips and tricks for concurring jet lag?  Comment below and let us know!

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