If you live more than slightly "across the pond", when you venture back to the states with little ones it is quite the......journey. Before the little ones come along, international travel is still a bear, but a few days later you shake it off and move on. We have had multiple people visit us this summer. We check in with them to see if they are doing ok and they all seem to barely experience the effects of jet lag. One good day of rest and they are "roar-roaring to go". What?!?! I asked my husband, "How do they arrive completely fine and when we stumble of the plane I feel it would be generosity for someone to put me out to pasture?!"
The answer, babies:)
Parents of little ones sitting in a plane seat for 25-40 hours see very little sleep and even after disembarking will struggle to find that sweet normal of a full nights sleep. Also, if you aren't somewhat strategic, in my opinion, this can be a painful process.
So here is my thoughts on dealing with baby jet lag.
1. Don't rush it! When I first embarked on this with babies I was on my normal track to pushing myself back to a normal schedule. But, guess what?! Babies have no such desire. They just want to sleep when they are tired and most likely that will NOT be in the middle of the night:) So you can keep pushing if you want but if you get in your correct schedule and they still aren't you will end up frustrated and getting even less sleep. So my first advice is to relax and give it time. They will adjust!
2. Get up when they do. Most likely that will be. 2 am, 4:20am, and 5:36am and all random times till they reach that sweet spot. But that will most likely be the natural times for you to get up also. However as adults we understand we should lay down and push ourselves to sleep more and get back to normal. They have no such inclinations. So don't fret. Get up, eat breakfast at 2:30am have some calm activities and don't stress. If they will go back to sleep after an hour or two, hurray! If not, press on and catch them again at their next random nap.
3. Push little by little. While mine, generally go 5 hours before nap, during jet lag it maybe 2 hrs- 7 hours. If they are totally un-pleasant don't turn it into marine re-con training, let them sleep. My husband recently said, "SEALS don't need speciality training. Put them on a flight and jet lag with babies and they will be set!". Sure feels true. However, if they are distracted and can make it closer to their normal nap time, awesome! Make it as close to a normal bed time as you can but don't be too dissapointed if it's only an hour or two later then the day before. Progress is progress!
4. Don't plan a rigorous schedule the minute you get home. Babies are super unpredictable during jet lag. And as much as we may want to visit Chuck E cheese, the park, the zoo, McDonald's and the state fair the first day it would be glutton for punishment. Give them time to take in everything slowly and it will Pay off with happy babies who can actually enjoy these activities.
5. Snuggle with them. Sometimes little ones who wake up early will drift back to dream land if we just snuggle with them a little as their sleep is interrupted by the dreaded jet lag.
6. Use the time to adjust to American Time. I don't know about you but where we live church doesn't start at 7pm and go to 9. We are never out past 7! Therefore my kids are in bed by 7. It can be extremely frustrating to try to keep your children on the same time schedule when Americans don't operate like that. So I find this is a great time to scoot that bed time back to what will be convenient for your visit and see if they will sleep in a later too and get all their zzzzzzzz's in, in a convenient time.
Rest assured in probably a week or so your sweet babies will be back to normal and so will you. Don't stress, take the time to get much needed rest and enjoy every moment of your travels. Eat your favorite American ice cream at 3:45, watch the newest Disney movie as you do and snuggle up to that warm mattress and sleep when you can with your tiny bundle of energy.