The holidays are around the corner (yippee!). I hope that you have already decided what you are going to make for Christmas pudding. One other thing that needs a little planning is travelling with kids. Nothing can spoil a holiday quite as quickly as a cranky, overtired kid! Here are our best tips for keeping children’s sleep in check:
1. Planning Troubleshoot scenarios in your head can help you can be more prepared for them. If you have to get on a plane at 8pm, but your baby usually sleeps from 6pm, how will you handle this? (This sleep sling is an amazing option by the way, and will keep your hands free as you rush through the airport). If you are heading into a new time zone, adapt to this time zone as soon as possible. Cues such as light and feeding times work wonders to readjust your child’s internal clock. If you have a toddler or an older child, talk to him/her continuously before the expected activity/time change. Prepare them for what the sleep environment will be like. What will be the same as at home, and what will be different? If they need to sleep on the plane, then talk them through the steps so that they know what to expect.
2. Consistency You want to retain as much consistency as you can with regard to sleep.. This is not always possible. Decide before hand what would be the non-negotiables for you, and what would be ok to budge on. Maybe getting your child in bed at 8pm is a non-negotiable, while a more flexible schedule would be ok. Maybe sitting with your child to fall asleep in an unfamiliar environment is ok, but giving your child a bottle of milk to fall asleep is not. Decide beforehand and stick to your guns. It is normal for children to test the boundaries a little when they are in a new environment, and if you do not nip it in the bud at the beginning of the holiday these habits will regress further every night. If you have recently gone through the process of working hard on changing sleep habits, try your best not to throw it all out of the window!
3. Creating Security Depending on your child’s temperament “change” might not be his favourite word. For this reason, recreate the security from home as much as you possibly can – take his bedding, blankets, white noise, comfort item etc. with. If you child is a little older, walk him through the hallways and the new environment so that he can grow accustomed to it. Also allow for more “down time” before bedtime to give your child that extra bit of help settling down. Most children will need extra attention, comfort, and assistance in order to fall asleep in an environment that is not “the usual” for them. Be sure to take the extra time to comfort them and assure them that you are nearby during this time.
4. The Basics Remember the basics. A consistent bedtime routine is still important so try and work that into your schedule. Things like screen time should be limited before bedtime (bad news if you are stuck in a hotel room). Exposure to natural light and a healthy diet will still go a long way to preserve good sleep habits. Also, don’t expect your child to fall asleep peacefully after eating candy and sweet treats the whole day. When you are travelling with kids you have to be a little bit more flexible. When you’re on vacation; have a general plan for the order of your day, rather than a rigid schedule that you are a slave to. Try to fine the balance between still making sure your child gets adequate sleep, but also being flexible enough if sleep is not always in the same place, or for the same length. And if all else fails, make sure you get back on track as soon as you are home!