* The Jet Lag Woes

Jet lag, you sly dog, you’ve done it again. You’ve fed them after midnight and turned my sweet little angels into sweet little monsters. Well, we’re not going down without a fight. Here are our best tips to help with the jet lag woes.

IMG_6042Hydration – Studies show that one of the best ways to prevent jet lag is to stay hydrated. Use this as a preventive measure even before you take off. In the days leading up to a long flight make sure that everyone in the family gets plenty to drink and give your kids get lots of water on the plane. Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendant for an extra round of apple juice. Flying is notorious for causing dehydration so, you will want to drink more than you think you need. For the adults in the family, keep in mind that alcohol and caffeine can actually cause dehydration so it’s best to avoid them around travel time.

Keep a Schedule – As much as possible you’ll want stick to your normal schedule. As soon as you land (or even before) change your clocks to the local time. Try not to think about what time it “really” is back home. That only makes it worse. When traveling west it can be very tempting to go to bed at 5:00pm. Don’t. And try your best to keep your kids up until as close to bedtime as possible. If anyone wants a nap don’t let it be a long one (when I say long I mean longer than normal). The first day is always the hardest but I have found that if we can keep a good schedule we can kick the jet lag in just a couple of days.

Sometimes vacations are scheduled for you with very little wiggle room. So, if you are traveling for a special event, like a wedding, you might want to consider getting there a few days early so that your kids have some time to adjust before they are paraded around for inspection and cheek-pinching by your friends and relatives.

IMG_1363Soak up the Sunlight – use it to your advantage. The sun naturally signals to our bodies that they should be awake. So, do your best to spend your first day of jet lag outside. When traveling East, your kids might want to sleep in. I know… that sounds SO wonderful! But don’t let them sleep too long. Get them up and take them outside. Let them see the sunshine. It will help their internal clocks (and yours) regulate to the new time.

IMG_1065-2Midnight Snacks and Stories – Especially when we are traveling east, our kids will almost certainly wake up bright-eyed and ready to go sometime around 2:00 in the morning. If they do wake up, the first night or two you might consider letting them get up for a little while. Keep this time calm and quiet. Sing lullabies instead of running around, don’t turn on too many lights, etc. Make them a sandwich, watch a short movie, read some stories and tuck them back in bed.

IMG_1906Roll with it – Confession: last time we got home from an overseas trip I crawled into the crib and slept there with my one-year-old son. It was 1 in the morning and even after a snack, a story, and an episode of Dora he would not fall asleep. So, I just climbed on in for a little snuggling (drastic times you know). Mind you, this in not a normal practice in my house but it worked. After half an hour he was asleep. Later that night our two-year-old found her way to our bed and was not removed for several hours.

Avoid Un-prescribed Medication – Many parents have been known to give their children some Children’s Benadryl or other similar medications to help kids sleep. I’m the kind of person that is weary to take medication even when it’s prescribed so you can imagine what side of this controversy I’m on. Even so, I’m not one to judge. If you are considering medications, let me just suggest that you ask a doctor about it first and make sure that you talk about proper dosing as overdose is the largest concern. Also, it’s important to know that while antihistamines have known drowsiness effects in adults, they can actually have very different side effects in kids. Children’s Benadryl says that it may cause “excitability” in small children, which is kind of what you are trying to avoid in the first place.

With all the risks associated with giving children medication without doctor approval, I would recommend just avoiding it all together. Instead, you might consider a more natural solution. Lavender, for example, has natural soothing and calming properties. I have some essential lavender oil that I rub on my kids feet and pillows before bedtime the night we get home from a long trip. It’s not going to knock them out but it is a much safer sleep aid.

IMG_0213Culture Shock vs. Jet Lag – If it’s been a week and you still think they might have switched out your kids for different ones at customs you might recognize that maybe jet lag isn’t the culprit. Sometimes kids have a hard time being taken our of their home environment. New beds and new faces can contribute to grumpiness just as much as a new time-zone. You might want to take a special stuffed animal or toy with you on your trip to remind them of home. Be patient with them, make sure to show extra love, and they’ll get used to it.

If you have any other ideas on how to help kids with jet lag please leave us a comment. We love to hear from you.

* There’s no place like home: Exploring your own city

It’s amazing how much time we can spend planning a trip to The Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls and yet salemwe’ve forgotten about one of the best travel destinations in the world… our own backyard. imagesIt’s true that the grass is always greener on the other side of the state line but you don’t necessarily need to go far to explore the world. Just get out and see your own home town. There’s a lot to love about it. After all, you did choose to live here once.

Practicing your exploring skills in your hometown is a great way to help your kids get used to being on the go. If they get tired you can just take them back to the house for lunch and naps. Treat your neighborhood like a training ground for traveling with your kids.hbf-brochure-1 See how they do when the stakes are low. You can help them become good travelers from the second they leave the doorstep.

Take a walk or a drive and see what you can find.  Be observant and spontaneous. When you see a new park or bike trail, write it down on a list of things “to see” in your city. 
Stop on a whim and read the historic landmark signs on the side of the road. You can use apps like google field trip to help you on your quest to find the fun and exiting things around you.

mNVMWYnqby4pqNz5qKjGiOQPretend like you are on vacation at home. What would you go see? Look up your city’s website and check out what is in your community. I’ll bet there are 10 museums within half an hour of your house that you’ve never set foot in. Even Challis, ID (population 909) and Bridger, MT (population 708) have websites with “events” and “recreation” activities. So spend some time planning a trip to “visit” the place where you live.WalkingTourBrochure_ad

You can even take a tour of the city. This might sound strange, especially if you’ve lived in the same place your whole life but a tour is a great way to learn about your stomping grounds. We often know less about the place we live than the places we’ve traveled to. So why not let someone tell you about it? You can go on a guided tour of your city. Lots of places even have self-guided walking tours. Swing by city hall, they usually have pamphlets and maps available with great information. Try to view things with a fresh pair of eyes. Buy a guidebook, take a camera, and make an adventure out of it.