I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. Although we managed to handle the long flights to Asia without too much issue, jet lag has definitely been kicking our butts. Here are some of my random thoughts after the past 72 hours – delirious ones, I might add.
1. A toddler compounds all of your own personal jet lag issues
This is pretty “duh” as far as thoughts go, but this is even clearer to me now that I’ve seen it in action. I should add the corollary that your personal jet lag issues compound that of your toddlers. Mine, at least.
Example – when any of the three of us wakes up at night, generally at least one if not both of the others will wake up. Case in point, two nights ago at 2 AM I moved my arm and M woke up and we had to deal with her for a little over an hour. This morning M woke us all up at 5 AM.
Of course the biggest problem is you are adding jet lag problems to general lack of sleep for parents of toddler problems. As far as I can tell, it just kind of spirals. When you go to Asia with your parents as a kid, jet lag doesn’t seem like too big of a deal. When you’re responsible for your own kid it feels pretty different.
2. Naptime has devolved into a disaster
Overtiredness + jet lag = totally screwed up naps. At least as far as our child is concerned. Compounding the issue is our familial obligations that keep us out of the hotel room a lot.
We’ve tried everything, Beco, strolling, straight up cradling in the arms – with little to no success. What has made things worse is the new environment is one that M is obviously keen to explore.
Things hit a low point yesterday as I held a screaming child for 35 minutes straight on a High Speed Rail train. We were in the passageway between cars but Jess said she could still hear her. She ultimately just fell asleep crying. At that point she had been awake from 5 AM until 5 PM – twelve straight hours!
So if you can help it, I’d suggest taking things even slower than you think you should with a jetlagged toddler. They need that rest!
3. Be prepared to break the rules
Rule 1 broken: no T.V. outside of football
Rule 2 broken: no chips
Rule 3 broken: no juice
The first two were broken in the middle of our marathon flight, but no juice happened yesterday. During the aforementioned train meltdown a kindly conductor came by and produced a juice box out of thin air.
Admittedly most kids her age drink juice already but for whatever reason we’ve never felt the need to. Until yesterday! At my wits end I popped the straw in, gulped down over half the juice myself, then gave M a few drags.
The first thing she did was squeeze the box and get it all over her face and clothes (mine too). Then after drinking a bit she calmed down for a few precious minutes. Sugar really does soothe. She eventually started bawling again but this time it was short and she finally passed out. Breaking the rules in order to survive!
4. You can’t stop a tantrum if it’s happening subconsciously
It’s true, M is hitting the terrible twos, but the reality is most of her tantrums have been jet lag related and totally out of her control.
If a child is crying with her eyes closed can you really do anything about it? It’s not like we are withholding something from her and she’s getting mad – she’s just screaming and crying subconsciously. This is all due to being over tired and jet lagged.
This happens at home from time to time but it’s happened since we’ve got to Asia at least once per day (or night). We just have been waiting her out as best as possible, the worst example being that train! (By now you probably have gathered I’m mildly traumatized by the whole thing).
5. Just go with it
Probably the motto all parents fall back on at some point. There’s nothing we can do about jet lag, hers or ours, we’re just doing our best to survive. Family helps, of course, but we’re just learning how to adapt situation by situation.
Last night when M woke up in the middle of the night I just firmly told her she had to stay in bed – luckily it worked. She woke up at 830 this morning, hopefully we’re out of the woods? We’ll see.
Dealing with a jet lagged toddler is definitely tough. 12 hours is the most she’s had to deal with and some times are definitely harder than others. Like we do at home, we’re just trying to survive – and have a little fun in the process! Feel free to offer your jet lag related thoughts in the comments!