The week of the cranky pants

I talk a lot about how I’m constantly amazed by the flexibility, willingness and resilience my kids show, especially when it comes to travel.  (As I mentioned yesterday, jet lag is a currently notable exception.)  And, it’s true — my kids amaze me with how well they handle long train trips or plane rides, sleeping in new locations, trying new foods and activities, deviations from their schedule and the general unpredictability that comes with travel.  In a lot of ways, they handle it better than I do.

But that’s the trip itself.  The flip side to that flexibility shows itself when we come home and try to get BACK into our normal routine.  Then, all hell breaks loose.  Ok, that may be a SLIGHT exaggeration, but I have consistently found that the week immediately following a trip is crazy around here.  When we travel, things are different.  We’re on vacation, so schedules change, exceptions are made to the rules, special circumstances abound.  When we get home, and we try to tighten things up again, we meet with major resistance.  (It also happens the week after we host guests in our home — anything that changes the routine and causes exceptions to the status quo causes a similar upheaval.)

When we were away last week, we did lots of things that are outside the norm for us.  We weren’t strict about enforcing the “eat a reasonable portion of your meal or you don’t get dessert” rule.  We watched a lot of tv.  Benjamin slept in Grandma’s room, with a night light.  We held Liam a lot to help him sleep, and we napped, most days, all curled up together in bed (me, Benjamin and Liam, that is — Dan was at work).  Benjamin was allowed chocolate milk at bedtime.  Several times, we skipped baths.  We didn’t limit stories to 4.  Benjamin didn’t go to school (obviously — that would have been a rough commute).

All that stuff is great — we were on vacation mode, and vacations are supposed to be special.  (How much fun would it be to go on vacation and do everythign just exactly like you do it at home?)  Explaining that to a 1 year old and a 3 year old is easy, but weathering the fallout is not.  So this week, we have major cranky pants-itis in our house.  Every single thing we readjust causes turmoil.  The kids are throwing fits and having temper tantrums right and left.  (And, the aforementioned jet lag is not helping.)

It’s ok.  I realize that it’s normal, and, even more, I understand that these lessons are important.  Vacations are fun, and it’s great to slack off on the routine and enjoy.  But, when you come back, things go back to normal.  It wouldn’t be as special if it was like that all the time (and mommy would lose her mind).  But this transition time is sure rough.  I’m hoping it gets better each time we “practice” it.

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