I knew the time change would be difficult for my son. Coming from California, India is an 12.5 hour time difference. Its literally on the other side of the world. What I severely underestimated was the effect it would have on everyone’s sanity.
It’s important to point out that my son has never been a good sleeper. He was 9 months old before he gave me a full night of sleep. The two weeks before we left, he would wake up in the middle of the night and come over to sleep in our bed. He still naps in the middle of the day, but often fights taking one.
The first two days in Mumbai, I concentrated on not allowing him to sleep more than 3 hours at a time. Good in theory, but practice proved difficult. He’s normally a little cranky when woken up and this was no exception. The difference was my husband and I were also fighting jet lag and had very little fight in us. We let him have his way and often gave in a little to easily. A bad precedent to set on the eve of travel.
Two days after landing in Mumbai we were on a plane to Bangalore. My son had slept through the night, woke up happy for the airplane ride, and napped in the taxi and hotel. I thought we were over the hump and was happy to go on our first family visit. But, on the ride over he fell asleep again. As we caught up with my husband’s aunt and uncle, we let too much time pass. Suddenly, I realized my son had been sleeping four hours. I had the duty of waking him up. He was cranky; wouldn’t talk to relatives, wouldn’t sit for pictures, wouldn’t eat the food prepared for him. My husband and I looked sheepish as we tried to get him to settle down. We gave in to some demands (namely Thomas on the iPad) and was able to get him to be reasonable at the very end of the visit. Of course by then we was fully up and didn’t go to sleep until 3am.
The next day we vowed not to make the same mistake. This time we were having lunch with a cousin and returning to her house for coffee. After a morning of playing at Bangalore Palace, my son was asleep during lunch. We woke him up after lunch to take him to the house. To say that this transition did not go well is an understatement. Entering the house he threw the biggest fit of the trip: screaming, throwing himself on the ground, hitting, you name it. My husband even took him outside to calm him down and he clawed at my husbands face. It took at least 40 minutes to get him calm enough to enter the house and an hour of the iPad before he even was comfortable enough to engage with the family, including their two young children. My poor husband was at wits end trying to get him under control. I was embarrassed watching him normally sweet boy throwing such unmanageable tantrums.
After the two scenes, we decided that waking him up was not a good idea, we decided to let him self service. If he feel asleep and woke up at an odd time, we would let him watch movies and play with his toys as we slept. That didn’t work either. Now in Chennai, we had our son sleeping through all our family visits. For two days he feel asleep around 3:30 pm and woke up at 3 am. No nap. By our second day in Chennai, we were exhausted. After a lunch visit with our over tired child where he refused pictures, food, and frankly everything, even the iPad, we headed back to the hotel for rest.
My son fell asleep on the way and we transferred him to the stroller and left him to rest as we decided what to do before our dinner meeting with a cousin. My daughter soon went down for a nap afterward, then my husband decided to take a snooze as well. I did a little work before I realized we weren’t leaving until dinner so I thought, “why not, I’ll catch up on sleep as well.”. The last thing I remember was wondering if my husband set an alarm before I feel asleep. 3 hours later I was awoken with as start when my husband yelled, “It’s 7:30! I have 6 missed calls!”. We had managed to sleep through our evening visit with family. Our children were still asleep. My son had left the stroller and joined us in bed without us noticing. Even Housekeeping had come by for turn down service and left a note saying we had not answered the door.
The crash my husband and I experience put a few things in perspective for us. We had been asking a lot of our very young son. We took him 1/2 way around the world, thrust him in front of people he really only knew as pictures on Facebook, and expected him to get along with everyone. He didn’t understand why his internal clock was off and he didn’t get any say in where we were going. His mis-behavior was rebellion for the activities we keep forcing on him. My husband and I resolved to try and reduce his schedule when we returned to Mumbai.
After returning, for two days in a row, he went to bed at a reasonable hour, and took one nap in the middle of the day. I think we are staring to get over the time change hump. However, what we are discovering is we now have a Grade A brat on our hands. Days of giving in to reduce tantrums in front of relatives has taught him that the quicker he gets angry and yells, the quicker he gets his way. This should be a fun habit to break…
PS: For those who are curious about my daughter, she adjusted on day one. As long as its dark, she goes back to sleep after eating. The nice thing about traveling with infants.