I knew jet lag was going to be tough because we had flown to SA and France with Oliver when he was 5 months and 20 months old and it took about 5-6 days for him to start sleeping through the night again. But, I wasn’t prepared for having both my kids (3 years and 7 months old) up at the same time while being exhausted myself. They say it takes one day per time zone that you cross to adjust to the new rhythm, but who “they” are I’m not quite sure…Google? We crossed 7 time zones to get from USA to South Africa and it really did take us 7 days to adjust. Daniel and I traveled a lot before kids (for 10 years!) and we hardly got jet lag because we were very good about getting to the destination and trying to push through till evening to sleep so we could get right into the swing of things, but with kids it’s a different story.
Daniel slept with Oliver the first two nights because it was a new place and we wanted Oliver to feel safe and secure. We wanted to help him go to the bathroom or just be a reassuring presence in such a big change.
I don't even remember where Callum and I were, that's what a blur it was!
Jet lag this time around was honestly worse than the newborn days because at least back then it would be a simple feed back to sleep, but this was two hours of awake time (eating and playing) from 12-2am or 2am-4am every night for about 5 nights with both kids. Daniel was up with us because it was a team effort and we all got hungry and played and read books very quietly as we are in a loft apartment above our hosts and didn’t want them to wake up. This Melissa & Doug reusable sticker pad (only $4.99 I can't believe it! affiliate link) that you can see Oliver playing with in the photo was SO helpful for a quiet activity to do. He still uses it for his "quiet times" and we take it to restaurants while we wait for the food as well.
The only thing that I can say I was grateful for was that on those 5 nights, the kids were up at the same time. Then Oliver started sleeping through the night and Callum took another 3 days to finally sleep through properly. When Callum woke up, I would just count two hours and try put him down after that. Two hours is his current wake window. I want to do a blog post on wake windows because they have been so helpful this time around. But, as I was putting Callum down after feeding the one night, I just thought to myself, “If Oliver wakes up now that Callum is down, I think I’ll have a breakdown!” Not getting enough sleep on top of a hugely emotional move across the world took its toll on me.
Selling everything we own, packing up our bags and saying goodbye to friends and family was hard but it was so busy in that last month that I couldn’t fully sit and dwell on how I was feeling about it, but as soon as we landed and rushed from here to there, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried, I cried and I cried.
My Emotions Around Moving Internationally (again!)
I cried for our house and Callum’s beautiful Montessori nursery that he was just starting to use with the floor bed and pull up bar and mirror. I wouldn’t get to teach him how to play and come back to the mattress to sleep on his own as we would have to use a pack ‘n play for the next three months.
I cried for my family and friends that I was leaving behind and would have to start all over again.
I cried for Oliver having to sell almost all his toys and leave his family and sweet friends behind. He just had a big change getting a sibling and now was thrown into another unsettling change.
I cried because we had left when summer was just starting and we would miss the pool days, splash pads, days at the lake or the beach. As if 2020 wasn’t hard enough, we would have two back-to-back winters in 2021. And I’m a summer person.
I know there is a huge amount of privilege in these circumstances, but I have come to realize that the things you grieve, your “hard” whatever that might be is still yours. Yes, others have a much harder time, but this was hard for me and I’m not going to diminish it and squash away my feelings.
Now I sit here (still in our loft apartment) and I’m grateful for this time here in SA. It is an incredible country and the people here are one-of-a-kind. We are going to be here for a year and so we are looking for a car to buy since we found a furnished place to rent. Our plans that we originally had have to be put on hold due to Covid and other reasons, but we are hopeful for another adventure next year.
Have you experienced jet lag with or without kids?
Do you sometimes compare your “hard” to someone elses?
Are you a summer or winter person?