The other day a friend of mine told me how he and his family had taken the arduous 21 hour flight to Australia for a two week holiday and catch-up with recently emigrated family.
He told of the nightmare he and his wife had in entertaining his two young children, 5 and 3 years old respectively, and how they struggled to cope with the dreaded child jet-lag. I personally would have baulked at the idea of spending so much time in a cramped cabin with nothing more than a colouring book and a series of recently released Hollywood blockbusters to keep them happy!
Tears and tantrums on such a flight come with the territory, but there are a few little things that can make the journey a little more bearable. Firstly, you should make sure that the airline you are travelling with caters for little ones. If the airline provides digital entertainment, make sure that the screens are incorporated into the back of the seat rather than a communal screen for sections of the plane, thus ensuring small children can actually see the screen. Perhaps you could ask if there is a children's T.V channel before opting to fly with them? Better still, see if the airline offers a gaming channel, this will entertain the kids for hours and can give you much needed time to yourself.
Portable DVD players can be a real saving grace, just make sure you pack their favourite DVDs! An excellent tip that you may not necessarily have thought of is to take small presents for your children that you could get them to open at certain times during the flight to relieve boredom and give them something to look forward to.
Dealing with the after-effects of a flight can be equally as tricky, but it's important to remember that a child's body acts in the same way as an adults when it comes to jet-lag. The same rules apply, so try to keep up with the new time zone and go to bed at night time to ensure your body adjusts, This may sound difficult for young children, but you will find that excitement gets them through the first signs of sleepiness!