Mid to late December can be one of the busiest travels seasons of the year. Add in the craziness of the holidays and the uncertainty of winter weather and you have the ingredients for a meltdown in the making. And I am not just talking about the kiddos. Traveling can be stressful on a good day, but traveling with gifts, heavy winter clothing and tired children and even the most patient parent will be looking for a quiet place to cry for a minute or two. Or for the nearest bar.
My kiddos are now past the infant and toddler stage and while I loved to introduce them to new places at that age, traveling caused me more anxiety than the vacation got rid of. I always felt I needed recovery time after the holiday. But I can tell you I did learn a thing or two during those magical years and most had to do with sleep. 🙂
1) Practice Makes Perfect!
Just like adults, babies and children are not used to sleeping in a strange bed. It is a great idea to practice getting your infant or napping-aged child comfortable sleeping in a playpen, travel bed or even your own guestroom bed during their daily nap in the days leading up to your trip.
2) Don’t Forget To Pack Those Lovies!
There is nothing worse than a tired child crying their heart out because their favourite teddy bear was left behind. Put it on a list and make sure you pack that beloved blankie because trust me, you will not find a replacement when you are hundreds of miles from home.
3) Keep It Familiar
This can be a challenge, but is super important to everyone getting a proper rest while on vacation. Try to keep things familiar, even if it means packing the same bedding you use at home to take on your trip. Just like a blankie, these can soothe your baby and calm them. If you are traveling during the night or nap time, dress your toddler in their jammies and pack their pillow, if space allows. Even as an adult I get a better sleep if I have my own pillow with me. Don’t forget to say those bedtime prayers together or read that one last story, if that is what you do at home.
4) Find The Time To Keep The Time
You will be forever grateful if you stick, as closely as possible, to your child’s regular bedtime and naptime. Of course if you are traveling across time zones, this can be difficult. I suggest adjusting your infant or toddler’s bedtime gradually, starting at home. Depending on how big the change is start putting them to bed earlier by 15 minutes increments, perhaps up to an hour or two earlier. Be prepared for late nights though, once you reach your destination. If you are visiting relatives, maybe ask them to help tag-team with your partner so you can enjoy your vacation as much as possible.
5) Safety First!
While it may be tempting to let your sleeping infant spend the night in a car-seat or stroller, it is not wise. While fine for the short-term, these items are not designed for babies to sleep in for extended periods. Safety first means your infant sleeps on their back, in a safe space free of loose bedding. Strollers are often used to store things during their use, like baby clothing, bags and more and there is a risk of them falling into the space your child is asleep in. Better to risk them waking up to be placed in a proper bed than have something hurt them accidentally.
6) Take Your Time and Relax!
While it can be tempting to rush to see everything you want while on your trip, don’t! You will just end up exhausting yourself and your child, which will lead to one of those meltdowns I talked about earlier. Children are great at picking up on their parents stress so if you try to do too much you will all end up disappointed. If your plans include visiting family, ask someone to spend time bonding with your baby while you and your spouse take in a show you wanted to see. Or check with your travel destination to see what their children’s programs are like. You would be surprised with how many places offer babysitting services or activities for older children so mom and dad can have some kid-free time.
If you are traveling this holiday, or any time this coming year, I hope these sleep tips help you and your family have a great and easy time. 🙂
Do you have any tips for traveling with children?
**If you enjoyed this post, you might like 11 Tips For Flying With Young Children