Friday Sprog Blogging: cross-country travel and kid circadian rhythms.

The Free-Ride family was only delayed by about 8 hours in getting from California to Maryland. This was no thanks to the very unhelpful America West/US Airways ticket agent at San Francisco, who, after we waited in the line to get to the podium for nearly 4 hours, thought to put our luggage on the red-eye from Las Vegas but had to be pressed to put us on standby for the same flight rather than offering as our only option the connection-you're-about-to-miss-but-24-hour-later flight. Luckily, Las Vegas Customer Service Guy Patrick C. got us the relevant flight information that the evil-SFO-agent did not, and we managed to make it onto the red eye, or we'd be taking off just about now rather than settling in for our first night at Super Sally's house.


So, there's a kids and science related angle to this tale of woe, in which I seek information from the scientifically educated hive-mind:

What should we do about trying to reset the sprogs' internal clocks? While hanging out in Las Vegas and waiting to see if we'd make it on the red-eye, they were up way past their normal bedtime, and our arrival at BWI this morning (at which point both kids were awake and hauling their own carry-ons) was 7:00 a.m. local time -- which is 4:00 a.m. for good Californians like ourselves.

Younger offspring actually slept in the gate area* for maybe 50 minutes while we were waiting to see if we'd get on the flight, then was carried down the jetway tube, then walked a bit on the plane and fell asleep again almost immediately after being seated (and was, in fact, surprised to wake up on the plane right before landing: "Did you carry me? Did I sleep walk?"). Younger offspring also napped for a couple hours this afternoon.

Elder offspring slept probably 3 hours or less on the flight, then not at all since we got here -- until crashing, in a fairly comical fashion, right after dessert but before getting into pajamas.

We're here until the evening of the 30th (we'll get home after midnight). Does it even make sense to try to get them acclimated to local time? If so, what's the best way to do that?

While you're here, if you have an air-travel tale of woe you'd like to share, you have my ear and my sympathy.
*Another question: Why, in Las Vegas, is it that the quiet gates have armrests on every seat, making sleeping on the seating well-nigh impossible, while the gates where the seating ing without armrests and is great for stretching out are also the gates with the super-noisy slot machines that are in use all the time?

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Good Luck! They're pretty messed up right now!

Keeping them on CA time is probably easier from a biological point, but it is harder from a social point - there is family there and events and people to play with, etc.

Whatever you choose to do - keep them on West Coast or East Coast time - be consistent from day to day: wake-up time always the same, immediately getting some food, then immediately going out and playing in the light of day. All meals always at the same time, bedtime always at the same time.

It won't be easy, but do what you can. You will be able to get them back on schedule once you are back home much more easily than while on a trip.

Why, in Las Vegas, is it that the quiet gates have armrests on every seat, making sleeping on the seating well-nigh impossible, while the gates where the seating ing without armrests and is great for stretching out are also the gates with the super-noisy slot machines that are in use all the time?

I'm surprised that there are any airport seats without armrests left. I haven't seen a seat that you could stretch out on in years. My contempt for US Scare-ways comes from a very uncomfortable night spent in BWI after they cancelled the last flight to LAX. According to the airline, there were no local hotels available, so they gave us a $10 food voucher (good only for cold Burger King) and a blanket. I did discover one thing: If you wiggle a bit, you can fit under the arms of the waiting area seats in BWI. You can't sleep in that position, but you can lie down. The fact that someone with basic arithmetic skills could have figured out that the flight would have to be cancelled (incoming crew was awake too long) at least six hours before they cancelled the flight didn't help matters.

The rule of thumb I've always heard (and which seems to hold true for me) is that your body adjusts by about one hour per day. And I think this generally works out even if your body clock gets seriously messed up by wonky travel schedules. Since you're there for over a week, you might as well go ahead and try to adjust.

Coturnix's suggestion of regular schedules is probably the best approach.

We moved ours several times across the country. It was an interesting pair. The older (daughter) was (is still at 30) a night-owl. The younger (son) was/is a morning person. But we found that just getting them into the routine worked best. If they're too tired, they'll sleep. I don't know a way to move the process faster. But their unlimited (relative to us) energy made up for it. One thing is to remind them to use the bathroom whenever they needed to, regardless of time of day or night. Having backed-up kids is a real drag.

By jbCharleston (not verified) on 23 Dec 2006 #permalink

That sounds (slightly) longer than my wait in the security line at Denver on Saturday morning. The kids should overcompensate and get more sleep. The adults should use eggnog to get into the right timezone.

By Uncle Fishy (not verified) on 25 Dec 2006 #permalink