It's officially summer time! For many families, this means packing up & heading out for a vacation filled with family fun. While for kids it’s all fun and excitement, parents often find traveling to be more stressful than exciting, especially when it comes to your child’s sleep. Follow these tips to put yourself at ease and help you encourage sleep while you are away from home.
Preparing for Travel:
Well-rested children will do better.
When children are well rested, missed sleep does not have the same affect as with overtired children. If you know you will be traveling soon, begin working on their sleep a few weeks (or months) before. If you’re making a small change and are consistent, your child will be well rested & ready for a day of travel. However, for big changes like, transitioning from a parents’ bed to toddler bed, I recommend waiting until after travel to address these. Trying to make big changes while in a new space can delay the process & just is not fair to the child.
Book flights in the morning or during naps.
It’s not always possible to control what time you fly, but if you can, try to book flights in the morning after a good nights rest or during naps when you know you’re little one will be ready for a snooze. Bonus tip: Pack a sleep sack, white noise, and lovies to help encourage sleep while in the air!
Motion sleep in the car is not as restorative as sleep in a bed. If you are driving, I recommend avoiding driving through night if you can. Night sleep is the most restorative, so we want to protect that! Prioritize sleep once you arrive to help combat any overtiredness from a day of motion sleep.
What to Pack:
Bring comforts from home.
This could be a favorite lovey or stuffed animal, a white noise machine, or even their favorite pair of pajamas. If your child is used to falling asleep with something at home, bring it along. I’m not saying pack up their whole room, but if at home you use white noise, bring a small travel machine or download a white noise app. Let them pick out their favorite pj’s or a stuffed animal (or 2) to bring along for snuggles. This will bring a sense of familiarity and comfort to an unfamiliar sleep space.
Black out curtains.
When traveling, you have very little control over window and lighting situations in the place you are staying. You can find some great travel black out curtains online, but if you’re looking for a cheaper version all you need is a black trash bag and painters tape. Simply cut the bag to fit the window, tape it around the window, & voila! You have a DIY black out curtain! Added bonus, it doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase, so maybe you can pack that extra pair of shoes ;)
At Your Destination:
Stick to your routines.
Continue doing your normal sleep routines. These routines are familiar and will help cue your child for sleep just as it does at home. If you need to shorten them up a bit, no problem! Stay as close as you can to your normal routine as possible and be flexible when needed.
Enjoy your family time.
When you’re on vacation sleep is just off. It's going to happen and that's okay! . Do your best to stick to your normal nap and bedtime schedule to help your child stay rested. But, still enjoy your family time. If you miss a nap, that’s okay! Try for an early bedtime and shoot for a nap the next day. If you have to offer extra help to get your child to sleep, that's okay to too! Be flexible when necessary and try not to stress too much over sleep. I promise, You will get back on track!
Once You are Home:
Get back to business as usual.
While you were gone, you may have taken extra measures to make sleep happen, like rocking or lying down with them and that’s okay! If this is the case, sleep may not come as easy as it did before you left . Quickly going back to your normal schedule and routines will help them adjust and get back on track. Keep in mind, it can take a few days or even a week to adjust back to normal.
While yes, sleep is important; spending time with loved ones is irreplaceable. Don’t let sleep (or the fear of not sleeping) stop you from enjoying the little moments. Do your best and you’ll get back on track again when you get home.