Arriving in London with Willpower

by Jessica on February 28, 2009

This day is not about travel. It is about willpower. We flew overnight from our home in Texas to London Heathrow airport, arriving at 8:00 am London time. We chose an overnight flight so that we would arrive in London in the morning with the sun shining brightly. Our plan is to try to overcome our jetlag as much as possible in one day. Immediately upon boarding, we set our clocks for London time and began forcing our brains to think in that new time, eating supper early and going to bed early.

When we land, I wake the boys with a cheery, “It’s morning, we’re here,” and they clamber off the plane with excitement. The good thing about little boys and their excitement is that it will keep us going for at least the first part of the day. For the rest of the day, I will doggedly ignore the effects of jetlag (and half sleeping on a plane) in an effort to align my whole family with London time. No matter how tired I feel, I will keep going. Sure.

Our plan to alleviate jet lag is to get plenty of sunshine and to hit the ground running. I have planned for us to tour the British Museum, which I know will not be terrible interesting to the boys, but it will keep us moving. While we wait for the car, I make sure the boys stand in the sun and feed them breakfast muffins I brought from home. First stop was a quick pop in at the hotel to drop off our bags. Then, we drove to the train station, and hopped on a train to the British Museum.

The Atrium of the British Museum

It was a Saturday so the museum was fairly crowded. The boys, still on Texas time, were hungry as soon as we arrived. I had packed a lunch of cheese, meat, and crackers, so we found a picnic area and ate an early lunch. Then, it was time to explore the museum. We hit the highlights of the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian and other ancient civilizations. The Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Greece were a popular stop, and the older boys remembered seeing the Parthenon the year before and made the connection. Eventually, wandering from room to room seemed to lull the boys into a trance and the weariness was starting to show.

Famous marble carvings from the Parthenon in Greece

At first glance, the British Museum seems to be better for the older crowd. However, the British Museum has gone out of their way to create ways that even the littlest travelers can enjoy the museum. At the front desk you can check out age appropriate family trails that guide you through the museum’s exhibits like the pages of an I –Spy book. There is something for every age and every interest level and they are tons of fun.

“Dum-dum, me want gum gum” from Night at the Museum   

The Paul Hamlyn library also has themed backpacks that offer a variety of items to guide kids in hands-on exploration of different parts of the museum. These backpacks were a treasure trove that made the stationary museum exhibits come to life. These are available in a variety of languages and best of all, they are free.

Because the boys were starting to get tired, I checked out a family trail to punch up the excitement of the museum. We did the ancient Egyptian trail and bought another hour of relatively whine free museum touring. At that point it was about 3:00 in the afternoon and our resolve was wavering. The goal was to stay up and stay moving until about 6:00 pm when we could eat dinner and go to bed. Three more hours seemed like an eternity. We retreated to a quiet picnic area to have a snack and regain some energy. Before I had even handed out the snacks, Aidan was stretched out on a bench asleep. Gary tried to rouse him, but he just kept insisting that he was tired and to leave him alone. We decided to let him have a short nap in the stroller.

We were still on track to meet our jetlag busting goals, but we knew we could not walk around the museum anymore, so we headed back to the train station. The train ride served to wake Aidan from his short nap, but the clickety-clack of the train almost lulled Evan(and Mom) to sleep. We kept each other busy by playing a game of Guess my Animal.

At 4:00 we found some dinner and managed to feed everyone with a minimum amount of grumbling. Finally, we were in the hotel room.  A bed had never looked so good. Each of the boys got a quick bath and then climbed into bed without as much as a whimper. Gary fell asleep on top of the covers fully dressed shortly after that. I checked the clock. It was 5:30. Close enough, I said to myself, as I pulled the curtains tight and fell into instant slumber.

{ 1 comment }

Mara from Motherofalltrips April 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I'm very impressed that you did this on your first day there! I used the same tactic you did and kept the boys awake after a red-eye flight, but I held off on the cultural stuff until the second day.

I do think that the British Museum, in the right doses (smaller ones) is great for kids. There's a lot of weird and wonderful stuff in there.

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