I’d like to rip my ears off, drown them in a stiff drink and sit alone on the beach. That’s what I am thinking as I am trying to get my son to sleep in Seattle after a 3 week trip in China and Japan. Baby jet lag has reared its head and it is ugly indeed.
Now traveling with my son is worth it in every way, and I will continue to do it, but this week, as we work through his baby jet lag sure has tested my resolve.
If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how hard the baby jet lag adjustment has been for Dek this week. We got back to the States on Sunday night (May 22nd) and have been ever so slowly creeping our way back to Pacific Coast time.
Oh, and did I mentioned that Mike and I both had to go back to work on Monday? I’m only in my office on Mondays and Wednesdays, so obviously there was some poor planning on my part, but every vacation day is precious. Why waste one on parent and baby jet lag?
When we first got back, Dek was waking up from around 10pm to 4am thanks to his baby jet lag. We allowed this the first couple of nights since he was still not sure when was day and when was night, and when exactly he should be sleeping. Mike and I took turns going out to the living room with him and watching a movie or playing with toys, and having some food.
Separation Anxiety In Full Effect
Dek didn’t just suffer from baby jet lag, but he also had some separation anxiety while we were away and who can blame him. First he didn’t see his dad for two weeks while we traveled together. Then I threw a crazy babysitter at him for a few hours a day for a week while I was working. He was sleeping in a new room every few days, there was new food on the table at random times, and his usual sleep schedule had been thrown out the window. For a boy who thrives on a schedule, he managed remarkably well for the three weeks we were gone. I still can’t believe how awesome he behaved and all he put up with.
I guess I am paying for my good fortune now though. Naps have been easy. He goes down without a peep. He even goes to bed at his normal time without a peep (well, apparently not tonight). Then 10 or 11pm rolls around, which is exactly when we are trying to go to bed ourselves most nights, and he tries every trick in his book to get out of bed. Baby jet lag strikes again.
So what is he yelling? “Down,” his new favorite world and one he learned on our trip. Now my boy who once would go to sleep without much of a fight, and definitely could not sleep if we were near him, won’t go to sleep unless we are physically sitting in the room. Except he isn’t actually going to sleep. As soon as we think he is firmly passed out, he will wake up as soon as we leave. This goes on and on.
Last night Mike finally got Dek back to sleep a little after midnight after lying on his floor for over an hour. We’ve been trying the Sleep Lady shuffle method this time since nothing else seems to be working. Twenty minutes later, Dek was up. I gave up and finally brought him into bed with me. This had worked while we were away, so I was hopeful we could all finally get some sleep. Nope, he didn’t want to sleep with us either. So now what? Finally he started signing for milk. I gave him a quarter of a cup of milk and put him back down. Finally he went to sleep.
At 6:58am he was up and ready to go, or so he thought. He had to have a morning nap by 8:30am. Thanks to baby jet lag he was a wreck.
Mishaps along the way
Granted, we have had some mishaps as we have tried to adjust Dek back to Pacific Time and push through his jet lag. Our first full day back (Monday), I had to go to work, so I had our old nanny come for the day. This was both good and bad. It was good, because she has a baby and this was a very nice distraction for Dek after the nanny had to wake him up around 9am. The bad part was that Dek’s separation anxiety was put to the test. Mommy had disappeared. Would she come back? We had to do the same thing on Wednesday when I went to the office. This schedule had not been upsetting before we left, but after having mom for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past three and a half weeks, he wasn’t sure what to expect anymore.
My second mishap came on Tuesday. I had been up with Dek until 4am. In my exhausted brain, I never set myself an alarm. When I finally woke up to Dek yelling for me, I assumed it was 8 or 9am. It was 11:59am. Almost noon! This was a disaster. How was I supposed to get Dek back to a normal schedule if we were sleeping half the day away? We were both up till 2am that night, possibly longer. I’m starting to block out how little sleep I’ve gotten this week thanks to both of our jet lag from this trip.
Our third mistake has been to not stick to a method of getting Dek to sleep and really sticking to it. Kids thrive on routine, schedules and knowing exactly what to expect. We have been so tired, Mike and I are just desperate to get him to sleep in any way possible so we can sleep too.
The Grandparents Come to Visit
My parents arrived on the Thursday after our return. Their visit had been planned for months. My last-minute trip to Asia was a bit of hiccup in our plans to wander with them. We would now be sticking closer to home so we could all try to catch up on our sleep. Normally a trip from my parents, or any family for that matter, would be enormously welcome. My mom normally gets up with Dek, so we can get some sleep on the weekends. It’s heaven. With Dek sleeping in late and up all hours of the night though, there was not much my parents could do except let us take a few naps during the day if we needed too. This conflicted with my desire to actually see my parents though and spend some quality time with them. I only see them 1-3 times a year.
So Now What Do We Do
I have one more week left of work and then I will be home with Dek full time. Hopefully I will have a little more sleep in me, we will be past the parent and baby jet lag, and have the energy to tackle all of the bad sleep habits and other naughty behavior Dek picked up while we traveled in Asia. I spoiled him while away and certainly let him do stuff, like sleep in my bed and eat stuff with sugar in it, that he normally does not do at home, so I need to reverse some of the effects of that.
As far as sleep goes though, what am I doing wrong? How do I get this jet lagged baby to sleep as well as he used to, or even as well as he did while we were away? Coming back from China has been so much harder than when we came back in December and faced our first huge bought of baby jet lag. Dek is six months older of course, and much more aware of his power over us. I think he is also hitting the “scared” stage. A nightlight has now been added to his room, which helped initially.
I have heard it can take up to three weeks to get over baby jet lag. Can I really wait that long? Not sure I have much of a choice.
Read more in our Baby jet lag survival page.
Baby in sunglasses via ShutterStock.