They are an age-old problem and the two questions I get asked over and over at this time of year, how do I get my little one to sleep while we are travelling over the holiday period? And how do I get them back into a sleep routine when we get back home?
As we all know from (sometimes bitter) experience, when we take a younger child away from home for a well-earned holiday, night times often become a time of tears and sleep refusal. We picture romantic evenings, sitting under the stars with a bottle of wine after the kids go down. The reality rather finds us sitting in our children’s room trying every trick in the book to get them to settle. This usually ends with us falling asleep with them and missing the stars altogether!
The thing with kids, more so the younger they are, is they need familiarity and routine to be able to settle. Obviously being on holiday makes this virtually impossible. Daytimes are filled with excitement and adventure, evenings are often late with meals eaten out, and bedtimes become rushed overtired events.
Here is my list of top tips to help you have a relaxing, sleep-filled holiday!
- Take the familiar with you. If possible take your little one’s pillow and a blanket that they normally sleep with.
- Try to stick to the same bedtime routine.
- Try to stick to the same bedtime. It is so tempting to let them stay up late but will make sleep more difficult.
New sleep environments, and perhaps even different time zones are all part of the adventure, but managing sleep can be a challenge whilst travelling.
- Let then spend some time getting used to their room and the rest of the accommodation before bedtime. Not knowing their surroundings or where to find Mum and Dad or the toilet in the middle of the night is enough to make a little one resist sleep altogether.
- Reward good bedtime and sleep with special holiday treats.
- Spend some time before sleep (in the bath is always a good option) talking about what has happened that day. Helping them to process the day before they’re sleepy will help their minds to settle for sleep.
- Eliminate the unknown. Chat about what the plans are for the following day so your little ones know what to expect. Just remember not to make it sound too exciting!!
Remember that holidays will always be a time of excitement and adventure, and broken sleep, for a child. Make allowances for disrupted sleep and take it as a bonus if everything runs super smoothly. Little ones will need extra reassurance and cuddles around sleep time – give these freely.
Back to Normality
Coming home can be just as exciting as going away when you’re a small person. There’s so much to be reacquainted with! It is so easy to slip into bad habits when you get home – you are tired, the kids are excited from their journeys and the temptation is there to carry on in holiday mode. Allowing holiday routine-relaxations to continue once you’re home risks turning them into habits – there should be no confusion that even though certain things were allowed on holiday, you are home now and home rules apply now.
- Try to keep the end of the homecoming day as quiet and ordinary as possible to help to ease the young ones back into home life.
- Go straight back to your normal routine from the first night home.
- Remember that even though you may feel deflated by being home again, your children will be excited by it and will probably battle to settle for the first night or two.
- After the first night, be extra firm with bedtime and settling to sleep. Once the old routine has been re-established, you can relax a little.
With a little bit of leeway, understanding and looking at things through your children’s eyes, you should still be able to enjoy some holiday downtime in the evenings watching the stars while your little ones sleep soundly, and to be able to ease them back into the home routine once you return.