Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…
This may be true if you’re on holidays, lying in the sun with your feet in the pool, but it may not be quite as accurate if you’re planning to travel with young kids. 😉
Many a vacation has been marred by babies crying, toddlers missing naps and preschoolers having tantrums, leading to a grumpy mom and dad. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Yes, there will always be some unwelcomed surprises on family vacations, but if you implement some of the following guidelines, you will increase your chances of a having a well rested (and happy!) tot along for the ride.
1. Plan Ahead
If you’re going to be staying in a hotel on your vacation, call them ahead of time to see if you can book a room located in a quiet section of the building. Generally, rooms close to the pool, restaurant, stairs or elevator have more foot traffic and are nosier. This can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to get your child to go to sleep.
2. Have a Well Rested Child Before You Leave
It’s important to have your child on a good routine before you even set out on your travels. This means an established nap routine, a consistent and familiar wind down and an age appropriate bedtime. If your child is well rested and caught up on their sleep before you go, then they will be more likely to fall asleep quicker in a new environment, able to deal with any missed sleep better and be just a happier travel companion overall. Win-win!
3. Practice Makes Perfect
If your child will be sleeping in a Pack and Play while you’re on the road, then it’s wise to do some trial runs with it at home. Sometimes children have a hard time settling down in a new bed, so it’s best to let them get used to it, in the comfort and security of their room. You can try one nap a day to see how they respond and troubleshoot accordingly.
4. Recreate The Sleep Environment
Take everything you can to help replicate your child’s regular sleep environment in the hotel. This may include white noise, dark sheets to imitate their blackout blinds, loveys or special blankets. They say that our sense of smell is the most powerful sense, so you may even want to take the same sheets from their bed without washing them. The familiar scents can help to relax your child when they are trying to fall asleep in a new location.
5. Stick to A Regular Routine
I know, I know, who wants same old, same old when you’re on vacation, right? But I tell you the truth-everyone will be happier if you can stick to a child’s regular routine while you’re traveling. Of course, this can’t always be done, but when it can, I would highly suggest it. By maintaining regular nap and bedtimes (when you can), you will help prevent them from getting overtired.
Although naps in the car are not recommended as part of a healthy sleep routine, when on the road, it sometimes can’t be helped. It’s better for your child to take a nap in the car, than to miss the nap entirely.
Some kids nap well in the car, and if yours does, then plan on doing long stretches on the road during their regular nap time. Remember to leave a little earlier to compensate for falling asleep time. Some parents also have success with hitting the road at a child’s bedtime and letting them sleep for a few hours while mom and dad drive to the next location. Have your children in their PJs already so that once you arrive at the hotel, you can quickly transfer them to their bed.
If you have a tot that doesn’t like to sleep in the car, then try to be at your destination in time for their next nap. If it can’t be helped, one nap will be missed, but you have the option of picking which one it will be, choose to skip the afternoon nap. The morning nap is the most restorative and sets the mood for the rest of the day. Either way, if a nap is skipped, then put them to bed early that night to help ward off overtiredness.
Once you are back from your trip, get right back into your old routine. Expect that your child’s sleep will be a little disturbed for about a week, but with time, consistency and early bedtimes, things will be back to normal quickly.