dinsdag 20 november 2012

Lessons learned: Baby jet lag and the silver lining

There is a lot of information on how to make flying with a child more enjoyable (well - less horrible). There is not so much information on surviving baby jet lag. The reason for this is simple: there isn't much you can do. You'll just have to suffer through it.

General tips include: lots of sunlight, light meals, stick to the sleep-and-eat schedule that fits the outside sun schedule, get some light exercise (i.e. take a walk in the sun). 

We did that. We had lunch seated on the balcony watching the construction workers dig a new river bed opposite our house and we went to the Botanic Gardens where E. was entertained by the loveliest Singaporean children ever and I watched them benevolently from behind several glasses of ice cold drinks. (Their mother stormed out to make sure they weren't bullying the toddler, and was slightly wrong-footed when I explained her eight- and six-year old had in fact been quite the little guardian angels.) 

It still took a solid week for E. to get back into shape. Here's what makes it so bad: baby jet lag does not run along the same lines as grown up jet lag.

Grown up jet lag west to east means I get tired late and want to sleep all morning. 

Grown up schedule
2 am: get tired, go to bed.
11 am: wake up.

Baby jet lag west to east means E.'s body switches into continual napping mode. 

Toddler schedule
10 am: E. wakes up.
3 pm: E. is overly tired and cranky and badly needs a nap. So does mummy. Both crash.
5 pm: E. is woken by mummy to make sure she gets some evening sun.
9  pm: E. goes to bed again, late in the hope that it'll tire her out enough to get her to sleep through the night.
1 am: No such thing as sleeping through the night. Play! Play! Play!
5 am: Back to sleep. 

So just around the time I started needing sleep, E.'d wake up. The only way to shut her up was to crawl into bed with her and stare at the ceiling in the dark while singing all the nursery rhymes I know. And again. And again. 

Funnily enough though, E. has almost no jet lag when flying east to west. She'll wake up early for a day or two (just like me) and that's it. We're done. This is quite contrary to the common knowledge, which says that flying west should be worse than flying east. However, I have always found that the jet lag on the way home is the killer. Apparently, so does E.

There is a silver lining. I got to cuddle E. for hours on end, which, to my regret, is usually a much more restricted activity. E. now knows all the nursery rhymes. One expat mommy told me she gave her daughter a limitless amount of Elmo videos for a week and afterwards she knew the alphabet. 

I have heard about this thing where if you talk to your child during that eerie half-awake, half sleeping stage you can re-program them, sort of like hypnotizing. So maybe I'm just not making full use of the resources here.

But I was just so very, very, very tired. 

NaBloPoMo November 2012

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