Summer is in full effect and who doesn’t love a big family vacation this time of year? But when you have little ones, it can be hard, especially when traveling to a different time zone. They get off schedule so they’re tired, hungry, and fussy, and everything can get out of whack! I am personally traveling with my 1-year old twins (see vacation pics below) to a different time zone and I was nervous about disrupting their very scheduled routine. They were pretty cranky at times when they never are, but after day 3 they were in the swing of things and having fun in the sun! Here are a few options to stay on track so everybody isn’t exhausted from jet lag!
East to West:
– If you are traveling for more than a few days, try to change their schedule (food and sleep) while you are still at home. You can adjust it later, in 15-minute increments, every day for a week so that by the time you arrive at your destination, your child is already on or close to the new time zone.
– If you can’t adjust prior to leaving (like I couldn’t) then their days will start early at first, but allow them to stay in their bed a little longer where there is the least amount of light exposure. When it comes to naps, try pushing the nap back 45 minutes the 1st two days so they will be on the right time by the 3rd day. Just remember to watch for sleep cues! You don’t want them to become overtired where it is harder for them to sleep. It is better to take your time adjusting to the new time zone than letting them get overtired.
West to East:
– If you have the opportunity to adjust their schedule prior to leaving, you can change their eating and sleeping routine later by 15-minutes every day for a week so that by the time you arrive on your vacation, they will be on or close to the new time zone!
– If you cannot adjust their schedule prior to leaving, then wake them up at or close to the desired wake-up time instead of letting them sleep in. Adjust naps earlier, in 45-minute increments, so that it should only take a few days to get on track. Allow for an earlier bedtime and make sure the room is dark and quiet (I heard black trash bags on windows are a great resource when you don’t have black-out shades!)
For more tips and specifics on this topic, check out this great article from the ASA: