It’s almost three weeks since we flew back to Bali from Europe and we are finally in a rhythm with the time difference and I’m slowly catching up. We’ve moved into a new house, re-started school and got back to work.
My four year old Finley (Fpop) suffered her first real dose of jet lag after this trip. Fpop has been a great traveller since she was three months old on her first long haul flight from Singapore to the UK via Dubai. So we’ve been through this a few times. But on this particular route East to Bali via Amsterdam and Singapore, she slept almost nine hours on the flight. At the time, letting her just keep sleeping, felt like the right thing to do. I think I was to happy having peace and quiet and enjoying a quiet class of wine with a movie while she sprawled next to me. Especially since it was an evening flight. But just as we landed in Bali and it was then evening and a bright eyed Finley woke up, I thought to myself – uh oh. I didn’t plan this well. Here we go.
And indeed. We were super out of sync. And on top of that, I didn’t sleep a wink on the 12 hour flight. I had a sprawled out 4 year old taking up most of my seat and her own, with her legs dug deep into the side of my hip. Luckily, after a few glasses of red wine and watching a movie, I could barely feel my legs, so that helped. Also, my husband decided to nick my comfy horseshoe pillow. The one that he always moans when I pack neatly hanging on to our bag.
I am usually the queen of flying long haul. Getting my watch ready for the new time zone and figuring out when to change from feeling like it is ‘day’ to night. Organised snacks, entertainment, change of clothes. I have it sussed. I have no idea what went wrong on our last flight. I decided to let Finley sleep for the majority of the flight – a full nine hours.
The first night back in Bali Finley went to bed at about 8pm, which was awesome as we had our first day back at pre school the next day. Then, as I was writing in bed at about 11pm, I heard the noise from a large gecko. A really noisy gecko.
If you haven’t heard these before. In Bali, they are a common occurrence and they are very loud – almost as loud as a dog. But you get used to it in Bali. However, we had been away for a few months and as soon as I heard the gecko, I had a hunch that this would wake Finley up and a few moments later she was out of bed calling for me.
I walked her back into her room. Then when I tucked her back into bed, and I lay down next to her she started sobbing. A real heart-felt sob.
“Mummy. I feel so sad,” she said as she lay on her pillow and tears in her eyes started swelling.
“I don’t feel like sleeping. I want something,” as she reached for words to describe this desire for what she wasn’t sure of.
‘What darling?” I asked
“Just something, but not sleeping”. More tears swelled and I saw that she was really scrambling to try to find the words to describe the horrendous upside down feeling of jet lag.
Jet lag is a mixture of insomnia in the middle of the night (I penned the first draft of this article at 3am on a jet lagged night) and looking for darkness in the middle of the day. As you lay awake ravenously hunger in the middle of the night to feeling completely emotional and unable to function due to lack of sleep. Then in the morning when the alarm clock it feels like a dream is sucking you back in saying, don’t wake up. No matter how much you are used to it. Jet lag is horrible. Particularly travelling West to East.
But my four year olds’ experience was so raw and emotional. She was really upset and emotional.
As she lay down, I asked if I could get her anything. She said she wanted to play. I explained that she had school in the morning and that she should probably rest, but we could play in the morning with all her friends. Then she started sobbing again.
“Mummy, I am SO hungry.”
That other side affect of jet lag. The midnight munchies where your upside belly feels like it could eat a full lasagna at 3am in the morning. We made her a little midnight snack of croissant and milk, brought it on a little tray and she devoured it. The poor little lamb was starving despite having dinner only a few hours before.
As we lay down and she snuggled in she started crying a little again.
“What’s that noise mummy?” It was the sound of a chorus of frogs from the nearby rice paddy. It was loud. The usual sounds of Bali. Something that she was used to after living here since she was 18 months old. But after spending our summer in the quietness of family homes in the UK, she said she didn’t like the sound. The frogs were too noisy. She wanted quiet. As I laid down beside her, we listened to the chorus of frogs, Finley eventually drifted off to sleep and we awoke fresh the next day for the first day back at preschool.
I didn’t sleep a wink after that. Days of feeling pulled back into a dream each morning as the alarm went off and finally after two weeks of an almost depressing struggle with jet lag, we were all (thankfully) back on Bali time and used to the usual chorus of evening frogs, geckos, birds and dogs.