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Jet Lag, Kids, and the Birth of Family Traditions

Jet Lag, Kids, and the Birth of Family Traditions

I am an early riser. I love that sneaky time before anyone else is up and you can imagine what life must have been like before cars. I love the freshness of the air and the promise of possibilities. The Hindus believe the early morning is the most sacred because it is when God is closest to earth.

When our kids were born I stopped liking the early morning so much because it wasn’t my choice anymore. After I had been up half the night, 5:00 A.M. was not my sneaky alone time anymore—it was the fourth shift.

And then we moved to London and each summer we would make the long journey back to my in-laws’ house (GMT-5) or my mom’s house (GMT-8) and all of a sudden 4:00 A.M. felt like midday.


What do you do when you are wide awake at 4:00 A.M. with a four-year-old and an eight-year-old in a house of sleeping elderly parents?

This, my friend, is where The Pajama Adventure was born.

Our mornings went like this:

4:00–5:00 A.M. Cuddle in bed and have sneaky chats in the dark about what we want to do that day and how excited we are to be with Grandma and Grandpa. Only rule: stay in bed.
5:00–6:00 A.M. Small light on, quiet book reading. Sometimes a nap.
6:00 A.M. Enough already. We have bedsores, we are BORED, and we are going nuts being quiet. Out the door. In pajamas.
If the truth be told, I never had enough foresight to lay out clothes the night before, and making the noise to rumble through bags at 6:00 A.M. wasn’t an option. But then the boys and I decided life is a whole lot more exciting if you are doing something a bit unexpected—a little naughty—and wearing your pajamas outside fits the bill.

Places we have been at 6 a.m., in pajamas:

    • Playgrounds. No competition for the good swings.
    • Beaches. Have you ever watched the steam rise from a Vermont pond at sunrise?
    • Other people’s gardens. There is a lot of wild lawn art out there. Counting cement frogs and searching for garden gnomes kills quite a bit of time.
    • Swimming pools. Hotel pools usually open at 6:00 A.M.
    • Grounds of historical landmarks. Yes, that was us in pajamas on Abraham Lincoln's front lawn in Springfield, IL, at 6:17 a.m.
    • Adventure Walks. Stick the word adventure in front of anything and it becomes a whole lot more interesting. These Adventure Walks usually covered one block only, but who knew what we would find!
  • Donut shops. Pajama Adventures always end at the local donut shop. Who else is open that early?

But if pajama walks don’t fit the bill – here are 7 tips on how to get over jet lag a little quicker:

    1. Stay awake as long as humanly possible in order to go to bed at the local time. Remember that a well-placed new toy can be worth an hour.
    1. Avoid television. You will be sawing logs in five minutes, especially if a couch or comfortable chair is involved.
    1. Give your kids a bath! Not only does it get rid of the nasty airplane feeling/smell, but also it can change an attitude and increase an energy level. Warning: Do not leave a jetlagged kid alone in the bathtub, even if the child is six years old and used to taking a bath alone. I have had a kid fall asleep in the tub!
    1. Switch your watch and your conversation so it makes sense to local time.
    1. Eat meals at the local time.
    1. Go to bed at the local time.
    1. When kids wake up too early, do quiet, boring things in the hopes they will go back to sleep in the first couple of hours.

Wendy Swart Grossman, pond swimmer, guitar player, bike rider and mother of two red-headed boys has just published her hilarious book Behind the Wheel: A mother’s journal of a year on the road about her family’s life traveling 28,000 miles while home schooling in a 29’ Winnebago RV. What was she thinking?  Available on kindle or paperback at and on the nook at  Check out her family website at

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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