By many definitions, jet lag – medically known as desynchronosis – is basically the body’s adjustment (or lack thereof) to rapid travel over several time zones. Most expats here in China know it all too well as we venture home every summer. Handling jet lag yourself is one thing, but dealing with it in your children at the same time can be something else altogether.
The first two nights since we arrived back in China, my youngest had a mini temper tantrum because I wouldn’t allow a sleepover with friends. Explaining that she’s tired and still has jet lag infuriates her. “I’M NOT TIRED!!” she insists. But when her eyelids won’t stay open beyond early evening, even she knows I was right. Until the next night, that is, when she’ll try again.
My oldest has been more willing to submit to the fatigue. She’ll agree that she’s tired, and she’s gone to bed without much prodding. However, she’s been prone to sleepwalking. One night she came in to say “How dare you!” blaming us for not saying goodnight. The next night she came in and frantically said “I’m starving!!” (No doubt; she nearly fell asleep during dinner). After pacing around and repeating the mantra, she went back to bed on her own. Unfortunately, this is my non-sleeper child. Like her father, she awakes at the first light or sound and then she’s up for good. That’s hard to overcome when you’re already battling jet lag.
Me? I feel dizzy and lightheaded. I have so much I want to do, but I wander around in circles and do nothing. One would think I could be quite impatient with my girls when they have their jet lag moments, but I have found that’s one positive effect it’s had on me. I’m incredibly understanding of their plight, if I do say so myself, and it’s helped us all get through it. Maybe I’m just too tired to battle.
In looking up ways to help avoid jet lag (expose yourself to sunlight as much as possible, eat healthy snacks, stay hydrated, provide diversions to resting, etc.), I found out that it generally takes one day per time zone traveled for full recovery. Just reading that made me more tired than I think I was. I have to deal with this for nearly two weeks?!
Our bodies will adjust; they always do. We’ll go to the pool again today to keep energized and wear ourselves out enough for bedtime. We’ll wait for all our friends to return, and prepare for the normal routines of school. Then we’ll share stories of what we did over the summer, all with fond memories. I suppose jet lag is a small price to pay for the pleasure of a great summer break.