Jet Lag With Kids

Last week, we took both kids to Taiwan so they could meet their great grandma for the first time.  An exhausting trip, but a precious time.  I spent the weeks prior to the trip fretting and planning ways to keep us sane on a 14 hour flight with two squirmy toddlers.  I had assumed that the flight itself would be the worst part of the trip. Little did I realize that the adjustment back to life at home would be far worse.

This has been a miserable week for all of us.

Taiwan is 15 hours ahead. Our night is their day. Our day is their night. Jet lag is bad enough for myself. Jet lag with kids who also have jet lag is an entirely different beast.  We should’ve planned a vacation from the vacation.

What I didn’t expect coming home:

  • A week to adjust.  I don’t know why I thought it would take just a couple days, but I did.  In fact, I was just beginning to pat myself on the back for how well the first two days back home had gone.  Then all progress was lost again by day 3.  The kids began to wake up in the middle of the night.  They were hungry at odd hours.  They began to fight naps and bedtime.  Those initial days were misleading because they were still pretty tired from the trip.  With renewed energy, the underlying jet lag resurfaced with a vengeance.
  • Excessive grumpiness.  TL has been a frightening grouch since we’ve returned.  The moment she doesn’t get her way with something (which she can’t fully express in words yet either), she breaks into a dramatic show of shrieks and tears.  We stand there completely perplexed and clueless as to what just set her off.  Even the best tricks up our sleeves have been failing us.
  • Off-the-charts whining.  Every little thing is suddenly difficult or impossible for MM.  Suddenly he has forgotten how to use his spoon or pull up his pants.  The moment his sister even comes near him, he whines about how he needs his space.   He whines about the Legos not staying together.  He whines about food being too hot, too cold, too spicy, too green.  And he whines about how he needs another hug.  “Hold me, mommy.”  Cute, but seriously?
  • A new bout of separation anxiety.  Our previously independent kids now constantly beg to be picked up and held.   Leaving for work and dropping them off at daycare has become painful again.   They demand and beg for either me or Smartypants to be right by their side, even at home.   They climb all over me, fighting for the most cozy spot in my lap or arms.  The worse of it:  TL has fought with tears and shrieks to sleep with us in our bed, despite having slept fine on her own up until now. We eventually caved and let her sleep with us.  It’s tough falling asleep with a toddler screaming in your ear at bedside.  Tonight she did fall asleep in her own bed though, so we have hope again that these regressions are not permanent.
  • Water leak.  This has nothing to do with jet lag, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to deal with when you’ve just come back from a trip.  The leak turned out to be under the concrete foundation of the house, involving the main hot water line.  We went without hot water for a couple days to prevent further water damage until the pipes could be rerouted.  Makes me appreciate the luxury of hot water.

Now airplane flights with children seem like a breeze.  14 hours?  Sure, not a problem.  Deal with jet lag again?  No way.

On the other hand, their passports only last for 5 years.  I feel this incredible urge to fill it up with more stamps….

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6 thoughts on “Jet Lag With Kids

    • Brenda, I think the KEY to a 14 hour flight is taking it red eye! You may not sleep well, but they at least can stretch out their legs or lay on you. Sleep helps pass the time. Unfortunately we did have a near poop fiasco on the plane and am so thankful it wasn’t a worse mess! :p

  1. Did I tell you about our 1st flight with V to Taiwan nearly 2 years ago? 30-hour trip from door-to-door. “Character-building experience” is the shortest way to describe it. And I got a lot of exercise on the DC-Japan leg walking back and forth…

    Jet lag after coming back… East coast and TW? 12 hour difference. The first 5 days back were HARD. But you know what? You got two kids – and that’s a lot. Props to you :).

    We’re flying back to Taiwan next month!

    • Gabe, that is INCREDIBLE. 30 hours?? I think the only redeeming aspect of our flight was that it was nonstop, and red eye. Departing at midnight helped to ensure that they would be sleepy enough to eventually fall back to sleep. I can’t even imagine the headache of having stopovers. Kudos to you, and good luck with your next trip to Taiwan! I’d love to hear more about it! I already miss all the bakeries and frequent quick eats. Things here are still a little messed up in terms of sleep and general level of crankiness with the kids, but there are little steps of progress each day. It was so silly of me to think it takes just a couple days.

  2. Oddly enough, all the traveling has gotten easier as the kids get accustomed to it, I think. Because we go back to the US at least once a year, both kids have gotten fairly good at adjusting…or maybe we’ve just gotten more used to the laborious adjustment period? Who knows. So, I say FILL THOSE PASSPORTS and come visit us in Korea! You’d be welcome to laze around the house and eat all the tasty foods I would love to cook for you and your family!

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