Get a head start
Adapting kids’ sleep schedules to your destination before you leave, even by an hour or two, will make the time change come as less of a shock. Depending on their age, it’s also a good idea to explain time zones and jet lag to children beforehand so they’ll understand why they feel like Oscar the Grouch when they arrive.
Make a soft landing
Pushing kids to immediately tour all of Rome in a day will only exacerbate crankiness. Don’t overdo it right off the bat, and remind any friends or family you’re visiting to plan low-key activities initially. The same goes for your return home: Try to build in at least one recovery day before the kids go back to school.
The aforementioned low-key activities should include as much exposure to sunlight as possible, especially in the morning. Indeed, along with rescheduling sleep, getting some sun is one of the principal jet-lag-beating strategies used by the new Timeshifter smartphone app to reset the internal clocks of children and parents alike.
Do as the locals do
As well as sleeping on schedule, try to ensure that all other aspects of your family trip – dining, socializing, roller-coaster-riding and so on – correspond with local time. That said, regardless of what locals (or grandparents) do, kids should initially avoid eating a lot of chocolate, or spicy or heavy foods, as these can disrupt sleep and slow acclimatization.
Keep the water coming
Dehydration may not cause jet lag, but is does exacerbate symptoms such as headaches, irritability and digestive problems. So be sure to keep refilling that sippy cup or water bottle, and try hydration-reminder apps such as Daily Water and iDrated.