I like routine. I like knowing what to expect and being able to control my environment. I also like being able to control the environment my baby sleeps in, so I know it is as conducive to sleep as possible. While that’s all well and good when we’re at home, what about when we go on vacation? No one wants to miss out on a blissful week of family fun because they’re worried about their child’s sleep. I’ve put together a few tips that can make your next trip go as smoothly as possible – and while I can’t make sure it’s sunny and warm, I can help you feel confident that your child’s sleep won’t suffer too much.
- Darkness, darkness, darkness! A completely dark room is imperative for your child’s sleep and you might have to get creative in order to make this work. There are portable blackout shades that you can buy and hang in just a few minutes in any room, or in a pinch you could use a towel, garbage bag or tinfoil over the window to block out light. You might need a clip to hold curtains together if they meet in the middle and let in light. Being creative with the window coverings can make a world of difference! I personally own a portable blackout curtain and while I love it, it’s never quite done the trick on its own. Although it’s quite large we’ve found ourselves staying in cottage rentals with 2 sets of windows, so our 1 shade doesn’t quite cut it. We’ve had to get crafty with garbage bags and towels in addition to the curtain!
- White noise. If your child sleeps with a noise machine at home bring it with you! They’re usually small and easy to pack. The familiar sound will be comforting to your baby or child and will help them to fall asleep in a strange place. If you can’t bring your noise machine you can point a fan towards the wall for a consistent, unobtrusive sound. This will also muffle out the sounds of creaking stairs, unfamiliar ductwork and noisy relatives! My motto is: ‘have noise machine, will travel’.
- Routine! Kids thrive on routine (don’t we all?). As much as possible, keep their bedtime routine the same as it would be at home. Pack some of the books you normally read, the same lotion you put on them and a familiar blanket or sleep sack if you can. Do your bedtime routine in the same order you would do at home and treat bedtime just like you would if they were in their own room. This can be very comforting to children and can help them settle easily in an unfamiliar place. Try to keep naps and bedtime at the same time they would occur at home, so that your child doesn’t get too overtired and fight sleep.
- Relax! You’re on vacation and that’s a good thing! Your child’s sleep probably won’t be perfect and that’s ok. Have fun with your family and make the most of your time together. If you miss their ideal bedtime one night you can always aim to meet it the next day to help them get back on track. Be gentle with yourself and keep your expectations realistic. Remember the 80/20 rule for sleep: 80% of your time you can do your best to stick to routines and schedules and 20% of the time be flexible and live your life! If your child’s sleep gets off track while you’re on vacation you can always regroup when you’re home and revisit your typical schedule and routines. Enjoy!!