Summer couldn’t have come any sooner for many families. After months of home schooling, dishes piling up in the sink from frequent home cooking, and makeshift home offices, we finally get to say goodbye to our pandemic routine and stepped into summer! Which also means… big changes to our schedules. Traveling somewhere new provides an excellent sensory experience that is beneficial for your child’s development and for parents too. Whether you’re taking day trips with your kids, or traveling to a destination far away for a long-awaited vacation, here are some helpful sleep tips to keep your family well-rested this summer.
Stay flexible with plans.
Some families tend to overschedule summer vacation to keep their children busy. Day camp, trips to see family and friends, and vacation excursions are fun experiences to plan, but it’s equally as important to keep an eye on your child’s activity level and look out for sleepy signs. An overtired child is hard to put to sleep at night. You may see an increase in night wakings and/or early morning rising when a child misses their sleepy window as they tend to sleep in a much lighter state when overtired. When a child is well rested, you can all enjoy next day’s activities. It’s a win-win for the whole family.
Give your family time to rest.
It’s often said that when parents travel, it’s a vacation, and when traveling with kids, it’s a trip. A trip with your kids will absolutely create wonderful memories that last a lifetime, but it can also be very exhausting. It’s important to carve out time each day for rest including naps for babies and toddler age children, and quiet time for older age children. Even if your family happens to all be staying in one hotel room, create a calming environment. Some recommendations: turn the lights low (or off), close the shades (black out shades are preferable), turn off the TV and other devices that emit blue light, keep voices low, and keep the room at a comfortable temperature between 68-72 degrees. Remember, this is an opportunity for you to rest as well. We all need to recharge.
Keep to the schedule when you can.
I know it’s easy for sleep schedules to be thrown out the window during the summer. While your family is away from home try to stick to your child’s regular nap and bedtime routine to provide structure and consistency when possible. I recommend the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time your child adheres to a nap and bedtime routine, and 20% of the time, life happens. I encourage exploration and travel with your child to create special memories and spend quality time together, it’s a beautiful part of life. If your child’s sleep schedule gets disrupted, always aim for an earlier bedtime to help get them back on track.
Pack the all the sleep essentials.
It’s important for children to be surrounded by their own comforts while away from home. Whether it be their unwashed bedsheets, white noise machine, loveys, toddler clock, or special sleep buddy they love to cuddle with, make room in your suitcase for the essentials. I also recommend bringing their favorite books for their bedtime routine which will cue it’s time to sleep. For older children, bring their pillow or blanket and any calming activities (coloring books, puzzles, etc.) for winding down in the evenings. Your child will find comfort in the smells and sounds of home even when they are sleeping in a new place.
Ali Lazar, Certified Child Sleep Consultant
Good Night Sleep Site
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