Some kids are born travelers – they sleep anywhere and everywhere. Other tots are the exact opposite and thrive on routine and their home environment. If you’ve got the first category, congratulations! Celebrate, travel and explore the world.
If you’re like us, and have the latter category, read on for some simple tricks that might help (no guarantees).
(1) Emulate their at-home bed environment and routine.
This might mean packing a crib sheet, stuffies, white noise machines and so on. But if you really value sleep, it’s seriously worth it. Having your child feel safe, secure and familiar at bedtime can mean a world of a difference.
(2) Get ’em tired and just go with it
If the above doesn’t work (recreating their at-home space) try getting them tired right out and allowing them rest when they really need it. For some people this actually works and kids pass out in the hotel room while watching a late night movie. Or, they’re asleep in the stroller from sheer exhaustion.
Be mindful that the complete opposite can occur though and severely over-tired, young children can be absolute nightmares (for us, we could never attempt this).
(3) Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Anthony Robbins often talks about how parents underestimate the strength of a child’s brain. If your traveling tot is old enough, a lot of parents have success simply talking them through the change — letting them know you’re on vacation and will be home soon. Explain the new environment, point out where mommy and daddy sleep, where brother sleeps and so on. Painting a clear picture of their new sleep environment can make it feel more familiar to them and help encourage rest.
There! I said it! The dreaded words of every sleep-consultant. But honestly, bed-sharing can save your trip. We’ve done it when our youngest was mere weeks old (in the Bahamas) and with our toddler. In both cases, we maximized the sleep our entire family got simply by putting our child between us (parents).
Sometimes breaking the rules applies to a lot of things on vacation!
(5) Soothe your child
A vacation might mean taking a break from your CIO (cry it out) method. If your child resists going down to sleep or wakes up in tears, you might want to console him/her and use reassurance to help them feel safe and snug.
(6) Lower your expectations
Expecting a vacation with kids to be one that recharges your batteries is the ultimate #parentingfail. I’ve had people write in to us and say it’s actually never a break for them – just moving all of their work and duties to a new location. C’est La Vie my friends. But at least you get to see new places.