“How do you handle the time change?” has to be one of the most frequent questions we get asked.
In most cases, the answer is “we don’t.” We mostly just let the kids do what they are going to do and try not to fight it too hard.
For domestic trips, this often means that they don’t adjust, since there’s a maximum of a 2 hour time difference.
For international trips, in the past we’ve just let them be. During the infant year, when their sleep schedules are SO unpredictable anyway, we just let it roll. We get up and get going when there is somewhere to be, which usually, but not always, has the effect of sliding their schedules enough so that we can nominally function during the day. We’ve had varying levels of “success” with this approach from Bangkok, where they did not adjust at all and we lived from 2am-2pm everyday, to Bali, where they made a 12 hour time shift in about 1 day and a half. When we travel to Europe, they tend to adjust about halfway, usually after a really rough first day.
For our upcoming trip, we have an early redeye – it departs around 6:30pm Eastern and lands around 8:30am CET. By that math, my kids shouldn’t even think about going to sleep (according to their normal bedtime) until 4 hours into an 8 hour flight. And then you take into account how difficult it is to go to sleep on the plane… we are poised for disaster.
To combat this, we have decided for the first time ever to shift them a little bit while still at home, by 2 hours or so. Hopefully this will make them more inclined to sleep on the redeye. Hopefully this will have the happy side effect of helping them adjust a little more than usual.
We are also doing a lot of talking to Andrew about how we are going to go to sleep on the airplane, and that when we wake up it will feel like it’s too early. It’s the first time he’s been able to handle a simple explanation like this, at 2.5 yrs.
I will post after the trip and report on the details of what we did and how it worked.