Summer is here! With summer comes vacation, and many parents are wondering how they can make their vacation as smooth and enjoyable as possible, while ensuring their child stays well-rested. Here are 6 tips to help your child sleep well while on vacation this summer.
1. Establish healthy sleep habits before you leave.
Many families put off sleep training or getting their child on a regular schedule because of upcoming travel plans or holidays. They know their sleep environment and schedule may be unpredictable so they figure they might as well wait until they get back home. A well-rested child will adapt to changes in their routine and schedule better than an overtired child, so it might make more sense to establish a good routine and resolve their sleep issues before you go. This will make it easier to go with the flow and have a happier time away.
2. Bring along their favourite and familiar items.
Bring your child’s sheets, blankets and sleep sack with you if possible. Their familiar smell and feel will help calm your child in a strange environment. Don’t forget to bring your child’s favourite lovey, pacifier or stuffed toy as these items are invaluable when travelling away from home. By bringing the items they know and love, you’ll help them relax, fall asleep faster and sleep better in a strange environment.
3. Recreate their sleep environment.
Try not to share a room with your child while travelling if you don’t normally share a room at home. Book a hotel suite instead of a single room, hang a sheet as a room divider, or use a walk-in closet as a temporary nursery. If your child is unable to see you, it will make the transition easier and they won’t be looking for middle of the night stimulation. Also, don’t assume the room you’re going to be staying in will be dark, so bring along some garbage bags and painter’s tape to block out any light coming through the curtains. If the room is louder than usual, find a white noise app on your phone to help drown out any noise.
4. Keep their regular sleep schedule and routine.
Where possible, make your travel and holiday plans around your child’s normal sleep schedule. Make it possible for your child to nap when they usually nap, and maintain your usual naptime and bedtime routine, as this will be comforting to your child even if a strange place. If you need to nap on the go, use a SnoozeShade or block the light coming through the car window. If you follow your usual schedule and routine, your children are less likely to lose sleep and become cranky and overtired.
5. Help them adjust to a different time zone.
If you are travelling to a different time zone for more than a few days, get your child’s schedule on the new time as quickly as possible. Have your child go to bed at their usual bedtime and be sure to wake up your child in the morning when they would normally wake up. It also helps to expose your children to plenty of natural light to reset their internal clock.
6. Have a plan for your return home.
If there were many changes to your child’s sleep environment, schedule and sleep habits while away, your child’s sleep may be a little “off” upon your return home. Have a plan to get your child back on their usual schedule and routine the minute you walk through your front door. If your child missed some sleep, plan for an earlier bedtime to help them catch up. The sooner you get them well-rested and back to their regular routine, the sooner they will get back into their good sleep habits.
While these tips will definitely help, even the most organized people can’t plan for everything so try to relax and just go with the flow! While we all try to do the best we can, sometimes its a case of just enjoying your time away, doing what you need to do in that situation and adjusting things when you return. Happy summer holidays!