Jet lag is a force to be reckoned with. I battled it first when returning to college after a week in the Middle East. Some say adjusting to jet lag takes one day for every time zone crossed. It was indeed seven days between when my plane landed and when I returned to fully-functioning-adult status. For seven days, I awoke long before the sun and fell asleep in my dinner plate. Jet lag can do crazy things to people, it can even turn a night owl into a (temporary) morning person.
But that was way-back-when. A few (short) weeks ago, Dennis and I flew to Fort Collins, Colorado. Cru’s biennial conference for its 6,000-ish U.S. staff is a family affair. But this year, cost considerations and opportunity conspired to keep our kiddos home, which made for somewhat of a nine-day getaway for us. NINE DAYS. I don’t think either of us could even wrap our minds around the concept, because we didn’t talk much of it before it happened. Of course. our days were crowded with conference-y things from morning to night and we were in spittin’ distance of so many of the good friends we’d made in our adult life, but it was a getaway nonetheless!
Though our sleep-wake schedule had been shifted to Mountain Time, the jet lag we experienced upon returning home was not of the slumbering nature. What we faced was some serious kid-lag.
Nine days where the only mouths to feed were our own. Mouths (and tummies) that would wait for food until it was convenient and chosen.
Nine days where the only alarm clocks were actual clocks with settings and snoozes.
Nine days where the only coordination needed was with our tiny rental car, and even that came with much room for error, since thousands of our closest friends were within the city and usually up for a carpool or a drop off.
Nine days where no one whined at us, climbed on us, or peed on us.
Nine days where we didn’t have to coerce anyone to eat, read, sleep, get along, quiet down, or get dressed.
Nine days where we were off.
It was even more glamorous than it sounds.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it took some adjustment.
The first two mornings, we woke up before our alarms, as if virtually startled awake by our kids. (And day one, we were. One of them kiddos FaceTimed us when they woke up in Eastern Standard Time, managing to still wake us up crazy early, from 800 miles away). Sleep aside, it took us a few days to make the various other mental shifts needed to live as ones who weren’t actively parenting.
While I missed my littles like any momma would, kid-lag “west” was nothing like kid-lag “east.”
Now, they say jet lag is supposedly worse traveling east.
Back when I traveled to the Middle East, jet lag should have been worse when I got there than when I returned home. But it wasn’t, because when I got there, I tricked the jet lag. I arrived early, having been awake essentially the entire night, and stayed awake all day, not allowing myself to sleep until the sun set. I didn’t give in to my internal clock. I fooled the old jet lag beast! But when I returned home to the States, I just crawled into bed at 6 p.m., because my body told me to. Hence the 2 a.m. wake-ups during my first week back.
Traveling back from Colorado, Dennis and I took a similar approach at tricking our kid-lag. We arrived home early Tuesday morning, and while a nine-day break from parenting probably warrants a nine-day easing back into parenting, we tried the “trick it” approach. We packed our crew and piled in the car for a sixteen hour (times two!) road trip.
An immersive experience back into the reality of parenting our three littles.
Three no-warning bladders.
Three minds craving nothing but screen time.
Three preferences on when and where to eat.
Three sets of appendages wandering into another’s space, squished three-wide in the backseat.
Three sets of irritation thresholds.
A three-part harmony of screams, cries, whines, and outbursts.
Five people to puzzle into two hotel beds.
Spills, stains, accidents, drops, false alarms, teasing, are-we-there-yets, and oops-I-left-something-at-the-last-stop.
Non-stop parenting, including a 90-minute argument that was resolved only because one child finally agreed to take Green Lantern’s head so the other child could take Green Lantern’s “bottom” (an argument where the b-u-t-t word was uttered/giggled/uttered/giggled/uttered/giggled more than a few times).
We tried to trick kid-lag. But you can’t trick kid-lag. Thirty-two hours in the car was a shock to the system no nine-day-off parent could ever be prepared for.
So please excuse me while I go try to sleep off my kid-lag.