Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Helping Children Adjust after Traveling in a Different Time Zone

Traveling can take its toll on small children, especially when you travel across time zones. My family, which comprises myself, my husband and our 19-month-old daughter, recently returned from a vacation where the time zone was two hours ahead of what we are accustomed to. Because we were on vacation for 2 weeks, our daughter was able to quickly adjust to the later time schedule. 

Unfortunately, traveling back west to our home was a far more difficult adjustment. Our daughter, who normally sleeps until 7:30AM, was now waking up at 5:30AM. She also had difficulty taking normal naps during the day and which meant that she was exhausted by bedtime. Needless to say, the past week has been a tiring time for all of us.

Fortunately, our daughter has finally made the adjustment back our time zone. Below are a few tips on how we were able to help her make the transition back to her normal schedule.

  • Be patient. Small children do not understand the concept of time zones and how this affects sleep.
  • Keep your child's routine as normal as possible. Daytime and bedtime routines are very important in helping your child adjust.
  • Offer regular nap times during the day. This past week, our daughter refused an afternoon nap (she is normally a good nap taker). Despite this, we gave her quiet time during her normal afternoon nap, and today she returned to taking a nap again.
  • If possible, take turns with your spouse in getting up early with your child. It is important to share the responsibility of helping your child adjust with your spouse.
  • Be persistent. After about the fourth day of our daughter waking up early, we thought that she may never adjust back to our time zone. Fortunately, through our persistence and patience, she has been able to adjust once again.
How have you dealt with traveling to different time zones with your children?
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