Adjusting to the time difference (from Europe to the US):
The hardest for Children is the Europe to USA jet lag because you are losing 6 hours. When you arrive in the US normally it will be in the afternoon (if a direct flight) or early evening (if you have connections). Usually we just have dinner, take showers and go to bed. For Adults there is no problem adjusting maybe you will wake up at 3am or at 6am and be ready for the day to begin. But for an infant or a toddler it's so hard to explain to them that they need to sleep until the sun comes up.
M was up at 4am (awake for an hour then back to sleep for 2 more hours), 5am (up and then napped late morning) and then 6am (up and then napped late morning). After the first 3 nights he was back to normal waking up at 7am or 8am.
I tried to keep him on his normal nap schedule but he was not having it. So we gradually moved his nap 1 hour later everyday until he was sleeping after lunch for 2-3 hours.
We had a wonderful vacation in DC and Florida with friends and family. It was great to see the sun again and get a little bit of warmth. Even though it was abnormally cold in Florida this winter.
The Return Flight...
When F arrived in Florida I had him bring an extra duffel bag to fit in all of the clothes, books, shoes etc that we had bought. We stocked up on basics and books because things are so expensive here in France and dirt cheep in The US. Everything fit! I was so surprised because I really splurged on the shopping ;-) One of the bags was 55lbs (but good thing that F is a Platinum Member with Delta so he can check 2 bags and they can be slightly over the weight limit!), other bags were 35lbs and 40lbs.
I was traveling alone back home with M because F had to take another flight (due to a new policy with his company). I made sure M got a good nap (2 hours) before we headed to the airport. We had lunch at the airport and headed through security. Tampa Airport Security is pretty simple to get through since they have about 5 or 6 different air sides with TSA checks at each (so they are lighter than the normal airport). We were to bring on 2 sippy cups full of milk they just had to screen them further with a machine.
On all of Tampa's Air Sides they have play areas for the kiddos. This was nice so M could get some exercise in before our 2 flights. We went to Miami which is only an hour flight. M was drowsy but stayed up and just stared off most of the flight. When we landed in MIA we walked around a bit and bought some water, juice and a snack then headed to our gate and boarded. The plane was a bit smaller that the one we took from France and it was FULL!
M was good on the plane. We did use the video player a bit more than on the trip over to the US. When it was time to sleep I changed him into his PJ's so he would know it was time to sleep. When he fell asleep it did not last very long and he woke up a few times when he was trying to stretch out. The two end seats was not enough room for him stretch out and for me to sit (on the way over we went to the 3 open seats next to us for him to lay on two seats). Since the plane was full we did not have this option. He got about 3.5 hours of sleep which was pretty good.
The flight was early about 8.5 hours long. After we landed we went through immigration (with no issues) and then on to picking up our bag and going through customs. F's parents and F were waiting for us as we left Security.
All in all it was a good flight. Not saying I would do it again alone but if I had to it wouldn't be a huge ordeal!
Adjusting to the time difference (from The US to Europe):
We arrived at 9am. After lunch M napped for 3 hours. We had to wake him up. Around 7pm we was ready for bed (screaming for no reason = ready for bed :-) The next day he was a perfect angel. Very happy and ready for fun. The third day he was in a mood when we went for a walk (screaming and crying for no reason for an hour). Then that night he did wake up at 3am crying but not fully awake. We let him cry a bit and he went back to sleep. Let's hope he has a better day today and a better night tonight!