Posted by Kirsten Patel, Elementary Mommie-on-the-Run | Posted in The Elementary Mommy-on-the-Run | Posted on 05-08-2010
I am typing this from a hotel room in London. We toured Tower of London this morning, had a nice lunch and swam in the hotel pool in the afternoon. Now the children are asleep and my husband and I are sipping wine while typing away on our respective laptops watching BBC news. Sounds lovely no?
But let me tell you, getting here was no easy feat. We’ve been planning for and anticipating this trip for months. As soon as I learned that my husband’s cousin was getting married in London and we’d be attending I started to fret about the flight and all the effort involved in taking three kids on a trip to Europe. We’ve taken several road trips with our kids, no problem. We are experts at the three kids stuck in the car for several hours thing.
However, air travel with three kids… not our thing. When my twin girls were eleven months old we took them to Hawaii. That trip ruined me. The girls were just learning to walk and they had no interest in sitting still for one moment. I’ll spare you the details, but the flight was hard… for us and the other passengers. Neither one of them slept a wink and things got worse once we arrived in paradise. They hated the beach and screamed if their little toes got anywhere near the sand. Our normally champion sleepers were up all night long crying and naps were non-existent. The plane ride home was made worse by painful diaper rashes and two overly exhausted parents. That trip was my first taste of how different travel can be once you have children.
Since then I’ve avoided taking our kids anywhere that requires air travel. I was scarred. But there was no avoiding this one. And at eight, eight and five and no diapers or naps to contend with, it was time. We got the kids passports, prepared with plenty to do on the plane and we were off.
The kids were thrilled and we talked a lot about airplane etiquette and what to expect. I really had no reason to worry. They were great on the plane. What I wasn’t prepared for was how annoyed I would be at all the other passengers. Just as my son fell asleep, the couple behind us started a very loud conversation about how difficult it is to sleep on airplanes and the women sitting next to my daughter kept her overhead light on the entire ten hour flight. Only one of my kids actually slept on the airplane and only for a little over an hour.
And no amount of preparation could have prepared me for our first day here. We left SFO at 1pm California time and arrived at 7am London time. We were assured we would be able to check into our hotel when we arrived. But when we got here, we were told there was no way they could check us in until 3pm at the earliest. That is when I freaked out. This was not part of my plan. We were going to sleep for a few hours, then get up and try to acclimate to London time. The kids were fried and I was ready for a shower. My husband suggested we tour around the city for the day and then check in. I told him (in my not-so-nice voice) that there was no way our already tired kids could manage any kind of tourist activity.
Thankfully my husband has lots of family here and we were able to spend the day at his aunts house while we waited for our hotel room. When we finally checked in we were all exhausted and frazzled. We had basically been up for almost 24 hours. Since then we’ve been battling jet lag.
For someone like me who lives and breathes by my kids routines and bedtimes, this has been rough. It’s like we all take turns turning into incoherent zombies and completely crashing out. We passed my sleeping son back and forth as we walked up and down endless flights of stairs looking at all the king’s medieval armor. As soon as we left and he woke up, my daughter took over. She practically melted on the subway because she was soooooo tired and soooooooooo hungry. Then my other daughter slept right through dinner only to wake up just moments ago (midnight our time) starving and not at all ready to go back to sleep. I am very ready to go to sleep.
And yet, not once have we said this trip was a bad idea. My kids have studied the London underground map and could tell me how to get anywhere from Queensbury to Notting Hill. They were mesmerized by the Queen’s jewels and think it’s hilarious that every time they order lemonade, they get 7-Up. In a couple of days all the wedding activities will start and I know I’ll be even more reassured that this trip was good idea.
I have no doubt that we will all be back on our proper sleep schedules the day we are scheduled to return back to the US. Then schools starts a few days later. Do you think they allow naps for 3rd graders?