Sleeping in an Unfamiliar Place
As I write this, I am at the beach and completely excited about my ability to escape quarantine even for a few days with my kids, off to New Jersey. That salt air, sense of calm and I am able to let the kids run free on the beach we were missing. Now we just have to hope that as restrictions on staying home are lifted, you can enjoy that planned family getaway. If you’re like most parents, your biggest fear is that a vacation is going to derail all the progress you and your child have made and cause you to start this process all over again.
Sometimes the mere thought of it frightens parents so much that they cancel all trips and just vow to stay home until their child leaves for college (my husband). That is how important your child’s new sleep schedule has become to the whole family. The good news is that you do not have to cancel all travel plans and confine yourself to the house for the rest of your child’s life. It is possible to have children who travel really well, if you keep a few tricks up for sleeve for your children sleeping on vacation:
- Pack thumbtacks – you can always pin up a sheet between you and your little one to create separation between you, so they don’t see you in the middle of the night and look to you for something.
- Bring a portable sound-machine. I place it on the side of the little one, to drown out any external noises that are in the room.
- Hit up the $ store for some black trash bags and throw them into your suitcase – in the event you are somewhere that there are no curtains or blackout blinds on the windows.
- Always errr on any sort or power-nap, vs. overtired. An overtired child is always harder to manage vs. one who got a quick refreshing power nap.
- Be on the lookout for vacation jet-lag. Typically this happens when you get home or the day after a long day out and about. Kids are often more active and they can tire-out sooner than you realize. You can bump bedtime earlier for a few days or pay attention to mood changes and upset.
These small tips can help ensure fun in the sun. CONSISTENCY in your routine is the most important, children like consistency and respond to the same expectations that you have at home, so do your best to keep that consistency in your routine, sleep space and day. Also, check out these sleep product favorites of ours!
Time Changes and Jet Lag in Children
When it comes to surviving the plane ride, the best piece of advice I ever got about traveling with kids is just to ACCEPT the fact that you’re traveling with kids! So plan ahead and bring as many things that you can think of to keep your baby occupied and comfortable. Depending on accommodations, the type of flight or seats, a nap on your shoulder or in your lap it’ is going to be a-OK.
Try to make them as comfortable as possible given your situations. If you are flying, offer something to drink when going up and coming down, so their ears pop naturally with the altitude changes. Well-rested children handle jet lag much better than sleep-deprived adults. If your baby has had a great schedule leading up to the trip, he should slide into the new time zone without too much trouble. If you need a sample schedule for your baby – grab one here.
It is best to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as you can. Do your best that first day you land, but start fresh the next morning as though you were home with normal local time. If you really feel like your child needs an extra nap to catch up a bit, try to limit it to 45 minutes. Try not to let them nap too close to bedtime. If it’s a choice between a strangely timed dinner-hour nap or an earlier bedtime, I suggest you go with the slightly earlier bedtime. When you are hopping more than two timezones, it can take a week for your children to adjust. If it’s a quick weekend trip, it’s best to split the difference and balance having fun with what time your child’s body thinks it is. I also suggest these nap hacks, if you need some quick ideas on the go to secure sleep.
Sunlight is a useful tool in helping both you and your children adjust to the new time zone since light is the most powerful time cue our bodies have. Try to plan meals and socializing around the new time zone as well, and get an hour or two of fresh air in the early afternoon.
Make sure you do just the opposite when evening rolls around. Use the blackout blinds, and keep light to a minimum an hour before you want your baby to go to bed. This will help stimulate melatonin production, making them a better sleeper.
You just may need to hit the reset button when you get home and if that’s the case, join my Free Save Your Sanity Sleep Bootcamp. I will help you reset and adjust if vacation causes you to derail on your child’s sleep and they no longer sleep through the night.
Sleep is my superpower.
I tell my children every day that same thing. It keeps them mentally strong and sharp to learn, it keeps us strong and sharp to lean-in to this crazy time and support our families. We all want to operate on a full tank of gas, so take the next step and join me on building a journey to sleep for your family. We offer free preliminary discovery calls and private coaching services to support your needs. We also offer free sleep Q&A’s every week in our Facebook Group, come join us there. We would love to meet you and help you to make sleep your superpower. I also host a podcast, called The Kids Sleep Show, which you can tune in to every week to learn more about sleep and how to build that rested home.
My name is Courtney Zentz, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor and founder of Tiny Transitions. As an award-winning sleep consultant, I help exhausted parents teach their infants & toddlers to sleep well every night with gentle, customized solutions and both group and private coaching options, so your family can all be at their best.