Going on a winter vacation with the kids?

 

You must read this before heading out on vacation.  Good sleep can make or break your vacation!

  • Respect your child’s sleep needs and do not over-schedule.  Plan for some down time in the afternoon where your child can have a nap that is not on the go.  It is tempting to do as much as possible, but it will just leave everyone miserable at the end of the day.  Remember, you are travelling with kids in tow! One of my husband’s favourite memories from a trip we went on when our kids were little, was sitting on the patio overlooking the ocean, reading for a few hours in the afternoon, while the kids and mom took a nap!
  • An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime is okay.  Most children can tolerate this without too much disruption to their overall sleep patterns. However, consecutive days of naps on the go and later bedtimes will wreak havoc on their sleep.   You still want to aim for no more than 20% of naps out and about.
  • Your child may test the boundaries and protest more in their new sleep environment until they get used to it.  Deal with it the same way you would at home by going in and out of the room every 10 minutes and provide some quick reassurance.  Be very consistent for the first few days and nights and your child will be used to their new sleep space and go back to sleeping well, which will make for an enjoyable vacation for everyone.
  • Bring your child’s blankie or stuffie, sleep sack and white noise. Set up a sleep space that is dark and separate from you.  Hallways, bathrooms and closets can work well to set up baby’s temporary room.  There is a great product out there called the SnoozeShade that fits over most playpens. It is a breathable, blackout cover that works great for blocking out light and providing some separation from your baby if you happen to be sharing a room.
  • As tempting as it might be to bed share for a few nights, it is not a good option. Often your child will decide this is his new preferred location to sleep and you may find yourself back to square one when you return home.
  • For the plane ride, it is best to plan ahead and do whatever you need to do to keep your child comfortable and occupied for the journey. He may have a nap in your arms and that is okay.
  • If you are doing a driving trip, planning to drive during nap time works well. It is just best to ensure that all naps are not happening in the car. And stop and take breaks to eat and stretch!  Your child needs this too!

Camping + Kids = Sleep

For 5 nights in July, we packed our rented RV and headed out to Crimson Lake Provincial Park.  We are not regular campers, hence the rented RV.  But we love to get out of the city and spend a few days being at one with nature (not to mention outhouses!)  We were lucky enough to have my sister and her family join us, as they are seasoned campers. So in all there were 5 kids.  Lots of fun memories were made with the cousins for sure.

We all loved the nightly campfires, sitting around visiting and roasting marshmallows. And the most beautiful thing happened….  All of the kids ranging from  2-11 years old went to bed easily and slept well.

When you have a mom as a sleep consultant, you can imagine that our kids have a pretty strict bedtime and routine.  We eased up a bit during this trip. And it was very amazing when our kids ages 6, 9 and 11 all went to bed without being told. They would say,  ” I am getting tired, I am going to go to bed.”  It was one of the those parenting moments when I felt all of our hard work had paid off.  They recognized they felt tired and they knew that sleep feels good, so they saw themselves off to bed.  My husband and I would go help with the teeth brushing and then tuck them in and head back to the camp fire.

And my niece and nephew slept great too. My nephew who is almost 2 would give everyone a hug around the campfire and then his mom would take him in the trailer for a bath and some bedtime songs.  One night I went inside with them to witness the routine.  Once the three songs they sing every night at bedtime were finished, he would say,  “Done, Cib(Crib)” and off to bed he went. They turned on his white noise and said goodnight. His sleeping area was super dark as they had put tin foil on the window when they arrived. And every afternoon he had a 3 hour nap.  He needed his rest from playing in the lake all morning!

The only issue we had in the 5 nights was one evening a thunderstorm rolled through right at bedtime.  With thunder shaking the RV, it delayed bedtime a bit.

I am not sure which I enjoyed more….The natural beauty our province has to offer or the beauty of children who sleep great.  Luckily, I got to experience both.
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Holiday Road

Sleeping Baby + Vacation = Relaxed And Rested Parents

When you’re planning a family holiday with a baby, an important thing to consider is how your travel plans are going to affect your child’s sleep routine. You’ll have a much more enjoyable vacation if you organize your trip in a way that allows for as little disruption as possible to your little one’s sleep schedule.

This will help ensure she gets the rest she needs to be happy, healthy, and alert during your trip—which is bound to make your holiday more enjoyable for everyone!

Here are some tips to help ensure sure your baby gets the sleep he needs during your travels:

Tip 1: Don’t over-schedule

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might have had back in their “child-free” days. The fact is, when you travel with a baby you can’t plan to go bungee-jumping in the morning, swim with dolphins in the early afternoon, go parasailing in the late afternoon, and go on a dinner cruise in the evening.

It’s better to slow down the pace and make sure you schedule regular naps and early bedtimes, just like you would at home.

Tip 2: Be consistent with naps and bedtime

An occasional nap in the car seat or a later-than-usual bedtime probably won’t do too much harm, but if your baby’s naps are all over the place and she goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, your baby will become so overtired and cranky that a complete meltdown will be inevitable.

Tip 3: Be patient as your baby acclimatizes to the new environment

Even if your baby is the best little sleeper in the world at home, when you’re in a strange environment things might be very different. It’s normal for babies and toddlers to test boundaries around sleep when they’re someone new.

Just because you have certain rules at home, they won’t automatically understand that the same rules apply at Grandma’s house.

In a strange place, your baby might cry for a while at bedtime or wake up at odd times during the night. The best way to handle this kind of behavior is to react the same way you would at home. Go into the room every five minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.

Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket

If your child has a treasured comfort item, it will go a long way to helping him feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment.

Tip 5. If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start now

Another big mistake parents make is to start sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while traveling. Even if it’s only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred way to sleep, you could find yourself dealing with a big problem when you get home and put her back in her crib.

The good news is, most hotels have a crib you can use or rent. You could also take your portable playpen along and use that as a crib.