Jet lag has ever really been an issue for me, despite travelling to America a few times as a teen and the Caribbean as a young adult, I’ve always just brushed it off. I mean, nothing a bottle of wine and a day in bed with crap TV can’t solve right?
Unless you’re a parent, then you’re effectively fucked.
Going to America, we didn’t have many problems. The first night that we were there (despite going to be late!) the kids woke up at 3am and flat out refused to go back to sleep, though it wasn’t an issue as none of us were tired anyway! It meant chilling out in the hotel room, having a play in the bath and beating everyone to the park because, well by 8am it was practically mid day anyway. We came home around 1pm, had a 2-3 hour nap and then took the kids out again (despite protests they were too tired!) until around 10pm… job done. Next day we were up early but not dramatically so, and all was well.
That is always the case for going to the states though, and to be fair no one minds a bit of jet lag when they are so excited to be somewhere. Coming home is a very different story. Who is excited to come home and go back to work? Not only that, instead of feeling wide awake and full of beans, you are exhausted and left in a constant cycle of what feels like the world’s earliest wake up followed by a desperation to sleep at around 8pm, but a total inability to sleep until 1/2am even though you are SHATTERED. It sucks, and with kids, it sucks hardest of all because you can’t get em to bed, once you do they are over tired so wake frequently and then waking them up in a morning is like some kind of bizarre puzzle on krypton factor, but with potentially flailing arms and lots of grunting.
I know, I’m not really filling you with the “let’s go to America” vibes, but I assure you, it’s well worth it, it just takes time to recover.
So tips for coping with jet lag?
- Be realistic, don’t come back from a long haul trip and plan to get up and go to work or school the next day. It sounds like a good idea, force yourself back into the routine and into a normal time zone, but it doesn’t work and is likely to make you all feel far worse. It take a week minimum to follow recover.
- Do get up at a normal-ish time though, it used to work when you had no commitments, sure, but it doesn’t with kids. Don’t insist that they get up at 7am, but don’t let the kids sleep too late (maybe use 10am as a cut off), set an alarm for yourself too.
- Use the afternoons! Ok, you’ve got unpacking and washing, but you need to try and tire those kids OUT more than they already are in the hope that they will be tired enough to sleep at a “normal” time, even though their bodies are telling them its only mid afternoon. Try a SHORT trip to the park or soft play.
- Try to keep meals at a normal-ish time too. Body clocks often work around food (well, mine does anyway!) and a full belly can signal rest time.
- I ignore this advice every time, which is probably why I’m pretty much permanently exhausted after every holiday but TRY to avoid caffeine. I know, I know. Problem is it only exacerbates the problem and you then end up worse.
- Try to do some exercise, even if its only going for a walk. Best of all, go for a walk in the sun (if there is any) as this boosts your vitamins and helps to release endorphins too. Winner, winner!
- Last of all, book another holiday, that cheers everyone up – ha!
So those are my tips – just remember west is best, east is a beast. Don’t expect to come back from long haul and feel dandy, you won’t.
Any tips fellow travellers?