As far as I know (but do correct me if I’m wrong), there’s still no official means to ‘cure’ jetlag, just as there is not an official cure for being an asshole, which is one of the many descriptive words your kids may morph into when they are jet lagged.
So, the big question becomes, how do you prevent your adorable, loving child from becoming “The Blob”? In our experience, you can’t, you can only manage how big of a "Blob" they or you become.
Let’s face it, you also suck to be around when you are jetlagged.
Luckily, on this trip (US-UK) we only had one meltdown by our 6-year old thus far, and a mini one by my wife i.e. if I roll my eyes at you again, you’re in trouble. In my opinion, this constitutes a win in my book.
When traveling, Michele and I try and prep our family as much as possible by doing the following:
- We let the kids know what the agenda will be, this helps prevent anxiety and somehow prevents asshollery (if that’s not a word it should be).
- We make sure that our kids understand what a privilege it is to travel, we talk about the awesome experiences we will have and memories we will make along the way.
- We lay down some key rules for our family when traveling –
- You are not allowed to moan – the consequences are no treats or screen time, and the threat that we will leave you at the next border crossing.
- Everyone gets an equal vote on the itinerary, there is no exception – except for Disney Land
- You are not allowed to ask the same question more than once unless we did not hear you the first time – the prevents the “are we there yet”, dumb question. A question that will certainly drive you to the brink of leaving your kids at the next border post.
- Stay positive and grateful – we are alive and traveling the world. I drill it into our kids why they should be grateful, sometimes it starts with a long speech of “when I or you mom was was your age…” or “do you know that there are kids that …” neither of these speeches our kids want to hear again and again, and therefore it acts as deterrent for my favorite descriptive word – asshollery!
So here are some top tips for managing jet lag and asshollery on your travels:
- KNOW what you’re in for. Traveling with kids are great, they tend to say just what they are thinking, especially about fellow travelers. I especially love when this happens, let's face it, you were thinking it, they just had the courage to say it for all to hear 😊. Flying from West to East i.e. US to the UK or Hong Kong is harder as your body finds it more difficult to deal with a shorter day than a longer one. For example, it takes my kids about 3 days to adjust when flying US to the UK.
- FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD. Keep your kids topped up on healthy snacks in addition to regular mealtimes on the plane, train or automobile. It prevents the "HangryMonster" from raising its ugly head. I become a complete nightmare to be around when I’m hungry and your kids will too.
- CHANGE the time on your watch as soon as you arrive at your destination. The phycological impact of not living in the past or future does wonders for your present.
- PLAN your flights. If you are not restricted by when your frequent flyer miles will let you book a flight, pick a flight that might make jetlag easier. i.e. I normally choose an overnight flight when possible. Arriving in daylight is better to beat jetlag.
- PLAN your accommodation. For the first few nights, pick a cheaper hotel or Airbnb apartment where you can get 2 bedrooms or a 1-bed suite. Jetlag is difficult to deal with if you’re all sleeping in the same room.
- PUSH back the kid's bedtime for the first few days. Letting the kids go to bed a bit later will increases the chances of them sleeping through the night and prevent them from waking you up at the ungodly hour of 2 am or earlier. This is a top tip and works well.
- FACTOR in jetlag to your itinerary. If you are doing a big trip after a long-haul flight, know that you might have a tricky first few nights.
- SUNSHINE! Daylight has been proven to help regulate your body clock back to normal. Even if you’re exhausted and want to cocoon yourself in your hotel room, take the kids out for a walk around the block, hell take yourself for a walk around the block, if you need any motivation, think of how much it cost to get you to where you are on your holiday.
- GET the kids onto local time asap. Don’t let your kids let the kids sleep during the day.
In my humble yet opinionated opinion, travel is one of the best things that you can do as a family. It forges bonds and creates memories that are certain to last a lifetime. There are people that curtailed plans for a big trip because they can’t face the idea of coping with a jetlagged family, to those I say, stop your asshollery and get on a jet plane, train or automobile – your kids will thank you later in life.
PS: the photo and its editing is courtesy of our 9-year-old (Amber), picture was taken just after Meka's meltdown and editing was done on moms phone - payment for this work will go into an IRA account for her, help circumvent some taxation and either fund her education or more likely some more traveling :-)
Comment and input to this blog is welcomed, the goal is to share experiences and tips