Uppers and Downers: Parenting Through Jet Lag

Why, hello there! It sure has been awhile, hasn’t it? The last time we chatted, I was preparing for a big trip. I was excited and anxious. I was in Korea.  Now I am on my big vacation. I am relaxed and happy. I am in California. What a difference a couple weeks make, right?

Boy howdy, you should have seen our family the first few days back, though.  As the kids these days are saying: we were a hot mess.

Sure, we were totally stoked to be back in California.  (Yes, I just said “totally stoked.” When in California…)  Yes, we were over the moon with hugs and kisses from grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends.  And of course, WE WERE 300 YARDS FROM THE BEACH.  For heaven’s sake, the beach can heal almost anything.  It did not, however, mitigate the effects of our jet lag.

Not at all.  Not. At. ALL.  

I think the insanity of parenting 4 kids through a killer jet lag session may be one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Let me give you a summary of our sleep patterns for the first 4 days.
Day 1: 
Awake all day, get on a flight at 9 p.m.  Two boys sleep fitfully for most of the 10.5 hour flight. Two girls sleep for two 2-hour stints. Mom and Dad sleep not hardly at all.
Day 2: 
Kids go to bed at 10 pm.  Baby boy awake from 1:40 to 6:45 a.m. Mom takes first shift until 4:45.  Dad takes over for the last 2 hours.  Parents suffer from a false sense of security: Maybe we dodged a jet lag bullet with the three older kids!
Day 3: 
Kids go to bed at 9 pm.  Girls and older boy wake up at 11 pm and can’t go back to sleep.  All watch a midnight movie.  Baby boy wakes up every 1-2 hours all night long. Parents realize they were foolish to ever have believed jet lag may have skipped them over.
Day 4: 
(No screen shot.  I temporarily gave up on Facebook due to lack of energy.)
Kids sleep in way too late.  (10:30!!!) Don’t go to sleep until 11 p.m. Mom and Dad have had it.  No more movies.  No more fun.  Sorry you can’t sleep, but the only thing you are allowed to do is lie in bed and stare at the wall.  No more messing around.

Do you feel sorry for me yet?

About 18 hours in to Day 1, while flying high over the Pacific Ocean, I had an epiphany.  I realized there was only one way I was making it through this temporary stop in Crazytown with my parenting dignity intact.  The first thing I needed was lots of empathy, for myself, my husband, and for my kids.   The second thing I needed was:

Drugs.  Lots and lots of mood altering drugs.

I am not kidding.  But maybe now would be a good time to clarify before someone ruins my perfectly wonderful vacation by calling Child Protective Services.

In order to make it through the day, I drank copious amounts of coffee.  The coffee did double duty as far as I was concerned.  First, it (sorta) fooled my brain by convincing it to stay awake when all my body wanted to do was sleep.  (Did I mention the time difference between Korea and California is 16 hours?) Secondly, I enjoy coffee so much that just drinking it put me in a better mood.  In the midst of many a meltdown, just reaching for my mug gave me the strength to carry on.

This funny thing happens, though, when you drink lots of coffee all day.  The caffeine stays with you long after your husband pries the cup from your clenched fist offers to wash the cup for you.  It stays with you for so long that when the sun finally goes down and all your children are mercifully asleep, it continues to pump that frenetic, no-longer-welcome energy through your system.

Enter drug # 2.  Red, red wine.

A glass or two of red wine at bedtime sure did help even out the energy surges.  It also made me a little less resentful of the hourly trips to the bedroom to settle children back to sleep.  It didn’t hurt that we had picture-perfect weather, and a cozy fire-pit in the backyard of our rented beach house.  What a lovely way  to end the day.  Or rather, what a lovely way to begin the nighttime madness.

We finally made it past the night sleep issues by about our 4th night of vacation.  The kids actually were rock stars, considering I didn’t allow them either coffee OR red wine.  Poor poor kids.  I don’t even know how they made it through.  You should just go ahead and admit that it probably had something to do with their awesome parents, no matter how judgemental you are about drug use.

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I know I’m really far behind on posting.  You can blame my absence on a combination of awesome vacation and broken computer.   Computer is now fixed, though, and I should have it back soon.

Look for these fascinating posts soon, which I promise will include lots of photos:

San Clemente, Dreamy Week by the Beach:  in which I make you jealous, but also amuse and confuse you with photos of my “twins.”

Doing Too Much: What happens when you try to visit every friend and family member in a 100 mile radius in 4 days.  Hint: you have fun, but also you get sick.

What 100 degree Temps do to Rabbits: in which I may gross you out, but also I will warm your heart.


Comments

  1. Hurray! You’re back! And by “back” I mean “posting”.
    Can’t wait for more stories.

  2. woo! I feel for you and your “hot mess” 🙂 And yes, can’t wait for more! 🙂