To anyone out there worried about the prospect of taking a toddler on a long-haul flight, my best advice to you is this: don’t worry about the flight. Worry about the jet-lag, instead. Because, the thing is, all flights, no matter how long they seem, eventually have to end, don’t they? As for the toddler jet-lag on the other end… well, let’s just say we’re currently on day four, and Max still thinks he’s in Florida. Yes.
As for me, meanwhile, I just WISH I was still in Florida. Like, so, SO much. One of my more annoying personality traits, you see, is my ability to totally ruin the second half of any trip by feeling sad about having to come home. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love our house – I just don’t miss it when I’m away from it. You know how most people are all, “Oh, it’s good to have a holiday, but it’s great to come home, too!”? Yeah, I don’t relate to that at all. I HATE coming home: to an extent that even I can see is totally and utterly ridiculous. (So there’s no need to start in with the, “You should just be grateful you have a home to come back to,” and the, “Some people don’t even get to have a holiday in the first place, you know!” because, yes, I KNOW. The heart wants what the heart wants though, and, in my case, the heart wants sunshine and shopping, and maybe some more of those ‘Gourmet Gummies” I bought in a random store in Orlando, and will probably never be able to find again now, RIP me.)
This year, the post-holiday blues have hit me particularly hard: partly because of the aforementioned toddler jet-lag, which made our first day home a bit like some kind of twisted endurance test, but also because we had such an amazing holiday. Now, going into this trip, I honestly wasn’t sure how it would all go: I’ve written before about the challenges of travelling with a toddler, and I wasn’t expecting it to be any easier when we added a couple of long-haul flights, a five-hour time difference, and boiling hot temperatures into the mix, you know?
Well, I’m not going to claim the challenges weren’t still there, because they obviously were: this was a different kind of trip to the sunshine state than any we’ve had before, for sure. It was, however, still similar enough in lots of ways for me to feel right back at home, and I loved every minute of it. (I mean, maybe not the minutes I spent ranting about the neighbours and their thumping baseline, obviously, but… well, you know.) As for Max, meanwhile, he had an absolute ball: and got so much out of it that as the end of the holiday approached, I actually started to feel a bit guilty about taking him away from a place where he was able to run around naked every morning, shrieking with joy as he soaked himself (and us) with water from the hosepipe next to the pool, to one where he spends most of his time stuck indoors, doing the same old things on repeat. Crazy, I know, but there were just so many new things for him to see and experience over there that he seemed to learn more in those two weeks than he had in two months at home. He’s learned dozens of new words (My least favourite being the word, “NIPPLE,” which Terry taught him after Max pointed at his chest in the pool one day. All well and good, but he now thinks anything small and round is a NIPPLE! and wants to tell people about it. Repeatedly. NIPPLE!NIPPLE!NIPPLE! Which is even MORE embarrassing than him shouting, “DUMMY!” at other children, obviously…), and seems to have returned home as a fully-fledged little boy, as opposed to a toddler. Which is as scary as it is cute, to be totally honest.
But enough of the pity party: I actually started this post with the intention of talking a bit about toddler jetlag, because, WOW, it’s been rough. Our flight home took off not long before Max’s Florida bedtime, and landed at 6am UK time. As we were flying through the night, during a time when he’d usually be sleeping, we had high hopes that he’d just sleep for the entire flight, and I’d finally be able to finish that book I started reading on the flight over. Uh-uh. Max slept for a total of TWO HOURS on that flight, and arrived back in the UK absolutely exhausted. I put him to bed as soon as we got home, but quickly realised I’d have to wake him up again a few hours later, or he’d have slept all day, and then woken up just as we were about to fall into our own bed, exhausted. And then we’d basically just become totally nocturnal: sleeping all day, up all night, and frantically saving up for a return trip to the US, just so we could once again be in a timezone that made sense to us.
I’ll be honest: I was so tired by this point that I briefly considered just going with this plan. We knew, however, that we were going to have to get Max back onto UK time as soon as possible, so we got him up, and then Terry and I endured the longest, most tiring day since Max was a newborn. By the time he was finally back in bed for the night, I was almost delirious with exhaustion – so naturally I then lay in bed wide awake for the next couple of hours, my stomach churning with some weird, nameless anxiety that almost always seems to hit me along with the jetlag. It was not fun: and neither were the next couple of days, really, as Max struggled to readjust to British time, and I realised just how much laundry we’d managed to bring home with us.
But here we are: we’ve been back for a full five days now, and are finally starting to get back to something a little bit like normality. And you know what? I’d happily do it all over again: tomorrow, if possible. I mean, we’re parents of a just-turned-17-month-old, after all: it’s not like we really NEED sleep any more, is it?