Cranky, hungry, overtired: Jet lag turns us all into toddlers
I’m back from a whirlwind trip to Dubai and Pakistan, and all I can think about in this moment is how much jet lag sucks. Forcing your body to travel across nine time zones is no joke, and it’s even harder when you have little kids. They’re confused, rightly so, and pretty cranky. But I’m also confused and cranky, so parenting is difficult right now. It feels like our house is full of cranky, hungry and overtired toddlers. Oh and it’s still cold here. I was hoping to return to double digit temperatures, sigh.
This morning my five-year-old told me I made her life “boring” because I was too tired to play a game with her. That’s a lot of attitude for 7 a.m. if you ask me, and that goes for any morning, not just the I-want-to-crawl-back-into-bed jet lag mornings when coffee refuses to work its magic. My four-year-old is demanding mini eggs at all hours of the day and I only have energy to say “no” half of the time.
We’re on day three and the improvements are gradual. My five-year-old’s 4 a.m. start on day one is now 5:30 a.m. Both kids nibbled a bit of dinner last night instead of refusing it (because according to their internal clocks it was actually 1 a.m.)
Everyone is ravenous in the mornings because our bodies think it’s dinnertime. We went through an entire package of croissants one morning - it was wild. Then the kids are sleepy messes after lunch and just want to flop about on the couch and watch TV while I try to blink away fatigue with a third cup of coffee in hand. This sucks.
The worst part of the day is probably the evenings. My kids keep asking if it’s bedtime yet, starting at about 2 p.m. They can hardly keep their eyes open by 6 p.m. but we try to keep them awake until closer to 7 p.m. to help them adjust to our new time zone. Last night my four-year-old screamed, “I’m not sleepy!” over and over again just before she curled up in bed and passed out. Such a terrorizing moment that no one had patience for, thankfully it was short-lived.
Our child-free evenings have also been cut short by the fact that we’re ready for bed when the kids are. We have a backlog of The Last of Us episodes to watch and we were nodding off at 7 p.m. Sleep won over my let’s-binge-all-the-episodes tendency. We agreed that going to bed before 9 p.m. was unacceptable, so we “rested our eyes” on the couch until then.
Fatigue can bring out the worst in people. Now that I’ve raised toddlers, I can safely say that jet lag brings out the inner toddler in most of us. It’s scary, it’s annoying, when will it end?!
The funny thing is that we didn’t experience this level of fatigue travelling east, even though that is apparently harder on our bodies, probably because we were excited to start our vacation and see family. Coming home is different. We’re trying to settle back into our normal routines, and it’s hard because everyone wants to stay in vacation mode.
Anyway, I am writing this from a place of extreme tiredness. I’m not feeling quite like myself yet.
I meant to write a few posts during my trip but it was busy and to be honest, I didn’t feel like writing because I wanted to make the most of every moment.
So stay tuned for a post about my experience on long-haul flights with little kids (not as bad as I thought), another one about home and belonging (bittersweet), and a photo essay from my trip (don’t get too excited, I’m not a great photographer).
The video is hilariously cute. Jet lag is a bummer. Looking forward to your travel posts.
Awwww!! I feel so bad for all of you. It’s tough and tougher yet with children. 😫