It’s the start of summer around here and the world is beginning to reopen and people are TRAVELING! Which is all SUPER exciting, but how do you keep your kids’ sleep schedule in check and them sleeping well with all this fun?
If you have the ability to plan your accommodations to allow your child to have their own sleeping space, that is key! Children who are independent sleepers can get a real affinity for co-sleeping in as little as one night. If that isn’t your long-term plan, try not to do it on vacation! Keep their environment as familiar as possible while traveling. Bring their lovey, sound machine, and baby monitor! Bring books from home to read during the bedtime routine. If your child is used to sleeping in a dark environment, recreate that while away, as well! I love the Slumberpod for this! It’s a travel-friendly blackout “tent” that fits over a Pack N Play. It even has a little pocket to put your video monitor in so you can still keep an eye on them! If you don’t want to invest in a Slumberpod or your child has outgrown a Pack N Play, black contractors’ trash bags over the window with a roll of masking tape will do the trick. I’ve also put my kids’ Pack N Play in walk-in closets or bathrooms, totally acceptable and will do the trick for darkness!
Try to keep to your child’s sleep schedule as much as possible while traveling. Everyone will have a better vacation if your littles are sleeping! It’s inevitable to have a little disruption to the schedule while traveling, you’re there to explore and have fun after all! If you miss a nap or have a late bedtime one day, try to be on schedule the next night so your child can “catch up” on sleep. If your child takes more than one nap per day, try to get at least one good nap each day at the hotel or rental house, while others may be on the go. If your child is only on one nap per day, see if you can plan your outings in the mornings or afternoons, at least most of the time.
End of Day Separation
I find that most kids are very stimulated on vacations! There’s just so much fun to be had. This can make the transition from beach time to bedtime a bit rough. If you can plan for 15 extra minutes of “wind-down” time in your accommodations before your formal bedtime routine begins, to separate them from the excitement or house full of cousins, it can make the transition go smoother.
If you have the option, plan to drive or fly in the morning! Getting to your destination with enough time to get their sleeping space set up and be able to get them to bed a little early that night if they didn’t nap, will help. Don’t overpack the first full day of your vacation, if possible. If your child takes more than one nap per day and you have a long driving trip, plan some stops to get out of the car in between nap times and hope they get some sleep on the drive! If you are flying, this will be the one time I tell you to simply do what you have to do to survive and hopefully get that child some sleep!
Time Zone Changes
If you are going 1, maybe 2, hours difference, you will likely be able to stay on your home time zone. If your child naturally adjusts to the new time zone, go with it. If you will be traveling for more than 3 days, get on local time as quickly as possible. If traveling less than 3 days, you may be able to do a partial adjustment. If traveling more than 6-8 hours’ time zone difference, know that it can be difficult to adjust when you return home (it can take up to 3 weeks), but not impossible!
If you’re traveling west to east, the time difference may actually make your life easier as you can put your little one down to bed at a later time that feels like his normal bedtime at home. If you are traveling east to west, then staying on your home time zone might not be as feasible. You can try adding a catnap to help your child make it until bedtime. For example, if your six-month-old usually goes to bed at 7pm in NYC, that would only be 4pm in L.A. When in L.A., allow for a catnap from 4-5pm and then put them to bed around 7-7:30 local time. Some kids will take better to this than others, it’s a bit of trial and error.
Use these tips so everyone gets to sleep on your summer vacation!