Aside from surviving the flights, my other major concern about taking two three-year-olds to Hawaii was, obviously, jet lag.
While we travel quite frequently with our kids, we generally either stay in our own time zone (Florida) or go a single hour earlier (Chicago). The only time we’ve dealt with any significant time change was our trip to California when they were only 7 months old. Over the course of our brief four-day trip, they didn’t adjust to Pacific Time AT ALL, and we essentially started each day at about 3 or 4AM. Charming.
With that being my only precedent, I was nervous about the 5-hour time difference between Boston and Honolulu. No adjustment at all would have my kids awake for the day by 2:30AM. Obviously, that would be entirely unacceptable. Thankfully, however, 3-year-olds are a hell of a lot more adaptable than 7-month-olds.
When we arrived at our rental house, it was around 5:30PM local time, so after 10:30 Eastern Time. My kids had been up since before 5:00AM, with only one pathetic nap between the two of them. Daniel passed out cold on the drive from the airport, and for the second time in his life, actually transferred inside and stayed asleep. For the rest of the night. I managed to change him out of his travel clothes and get a Pull-Up on him, and when I set him into his bed, he just rolled over and smiled.
Rebecca went to bed shortly thereafter, and thankfully I had thought ahead and packed our friend, the Good Nite Lite. I set it to “wake up” at 5:00AM, local time. And while we were all awake before it turned yellow, at least it was dark out and the light was blue, and we were able to convince the kids to stay pretty quiet and rest in bed (we shared a room, alas) until it turned yellow. We weren’t the only ones in the house up at that hour, of course, so we all took advantage of being wide awake and about 100 yards from the beach and went to watch the sunrise. (I even let M hold my camera for a minute…)
After that, it honestly wasn’t bad at all. Being up early, plus plenty of activity and sunshine, meant both kids took an awfully good nap nearly every day. The nap enabled them to stay up to a normal bedtime, and I bumped the Good Nite Lite to 6:00AM for the rest of the trip. By about 5 or 6 days in, they even slept quite a bit past when it turned yellow. Hooray!
My pregnant and jet-lagged ass, on the other hand, was completely exhausted and crashed HARD at about 8:30 every night. Ah well.
However, I have heard from a number of people that West-to-East is about a million times worse as far as jet lag goes, and unfortunately, that has proven true for us.
Obviously, travel day was all over the place. Barely slept on the red-eye, “naps” were here there and everywhere the day we got home. Both kids were exhausted and losing their minds by 6:00PM, so we put them to bed. I think I only lasted another hour or two before I crashed, too. Unfortunately, we were ALL awake from about 10:30PM to 1:00AM. It was so ridiculous, we ended up putting on a TV show for the kids at midnight.
Yes, they “slept in” the next day, but then what do you do? Nap? No nap? Plus, Daniel had picked up a nasty cold and was that much more exhausted from being sick. And me? Completely bone-tired. We ended up trying a no-nap day for the kids (I may have put on a movie so I could grab a nap, myself), in the hopes of getting them tired enough for bedtime, but it didn’t work. Another night of being wide awake at 11:00PM, though at least it wasn’t as long this time.
Add to all of that insanity the fact that we’re on a bit of a let-down from leaving a great vacation, it’s a holiday week, the kids haven’t been to preschool in over two weeks… basically, it was a nightmare of re-entry. No routine, no schedule. Getting them up and to school would have been hard, but at least it might have forced us back into normalcy. What actually happened is that we didn’t get back to near-normal sleep until Saturday (got home Monday), and behavior has steadily deteriorated as they are simply bored.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for them to go back to school on Monday morning.
Could we have made the adjustment back to reality any easier? Who knows. I think my attempts at skipping the nap to get them tired enough for bedtime (the challenge of the West-to-East transition) backfired, and I would have been better off with a mid-afternoon nap and a late-ish bedtime. And had we not been sick and had it not been a holiday week, I think making ourselves get up and go to school in the morning would have been a good thing. But regardless, it took a solid 5-6 days to get adjusted back to our home time.
Was it worth it? Hell yes. The trip itself was great, and I’ll talk more about it in another post. But re-entry has been absolutely brutal.