It’s that time of year again when parents can look forward to having a break from work and home and set off somewhere with their young children to enjoy some sun (hopefully), but more importantly some downtime. There are lots of considerations when travelling with smallies and you don’t want to go somewhere that takes too long to get there or is too hot or cold. You may need to consider the accommodation, the distance to conveniences, elevators, kiddies pool, suitable activities…the list goes on. What you may also need to factor in are the sleeping arrangements during your break away so that everyone remains well rested during the holiday time and that you don’t arrive home needing a holiday to get over the holiday you have just had. I put together some useful recommendations so that you achieve just that.
Very young children are portable and typically adjustable, but the older they get, the harder it can be. If your young child currently still requires one or more daytime naps throughout the day, this will still be necessary to implement on your break away. Some children are great to sleep on the go and out and about, others may resist sleeping based on lots of distractions. You will know your own child best and it is important that you ensure that your child is well rested during the day, so that they don’t become over-tired ahead of bedtime and in turn wake up throughout the night. Sleeping in buggies and cars, can be a sleep solution on holidays and I find using a snooze shade or similar can help to create an adequately dark environment for the sleep period. If your child is taking more than one nap per day, it’s would be sensible to have at least one of those naps back in the cot/bed so that the overall quality of their sleep isn’t compromised. This can have its own benefits; it gives parents a time to rest when they normally wouldn’t. Timed correctly, you can avoid the intense midday heat and if you have older children, one parent can have some exclusive time with them also. Making sure that your young child is well rested during the day, may also give you flexibility with being able to extend bedtime so that you can eat out and enjoy some entertainment in your location.
– On the day you travel expect disruptions with sleep, but as soon as you arrive, try to follow your typical feeding and sleeping schedule.
– Without pushing your child, try to put them into the relevant time zone, so they can adjust straight away-this can be done by waking them in the morning and following your day time routine as normal.
– Bring with you familiar items from home, such as the sleeping bag, music, books, sheet from the cot. Don’t forget their lovey if you use one!
– If room sharing, when you don’t normally-move their cot/bed as far away from your bed, so as to maintain a defined sleep space.
– Regulate the temperature-we don’t sleep well if we are too hot, or too cold.
– Provide extra reassurance on the first few nights if necessary as your child acclimatises to sleeping in a new environment.
– Avoid doing things that you don’t do at home, for example, over-night feeds, changing the sleeping location over-night, missing naps, having a super late bedtime, co sleeping.
Above all, be prepared and enjoy the well earned break.
Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, is a paediatric sleep consultant and mum of four young children. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families across the country. See www.sleepmatters.ie, t: 087 2683584 or e: firstname.lastname@example.org