Sleep Secrets When You’re Hitting the Road
I am SO glad to finally be sharing about this topic when it comes to your kiddos’ sleep.
Because summer is finally on the horizon, and the countdown is on to longer days, exciting new adventures, and the open road. So if you’ve been itching to do something fun, try something new, or leave town for any reason, your time is coming!
But as any parent knows, taking a vacation just isn’t as straightforward as it was before kids were in the picture. Before you could just throw some things in a suitcase and take off, but now you have to think about laundry access, fitting ALL THE THINGS in your bags, and of course, sleeping arrangements. From where everyone will sleep, to when and how that will happen, there can be a lot of pressure!
Buuuut, as always I’m here to make things easier for you. As a sleep consultant, and a mama, I’ve been through all the sleep scenarios and navigated them so that you don’t have to! When it comes to travel, I’m always here to take one for the team.
Room Sharing When They’re Not Used to It.
Whether your kids are sharing with their siblings, or the whole family is in one room, it can surely be a juggle for everyone when they suddenly have more roommates than normal.
So how do you ensure everyone still gets a good night’s rest?
Set the scene. As much as possible, you want to recreate their home environment. This means having their white noise, lovey (if age appropriate, of course), and my favourite black out blinds to ensure the room is as dark as possible!
Keep is predictable. In addition to their familiar things, you also want them to have a familiar routine. Does bedtime always start with pajamas and end with a story? Keep it that way, even away from home! I’d argue it’s even more important to stick to your routine when you’re somewhere new. This can be tricky, but don’t react too quickly if your little one wakes in the night if you wouldn’t do this at home. I know this can get complicated if you’re in someone else's home or a hotel since you don’t want to disturb anyone, but give them a few minutes to settle on their own to help them sleep. Do your best to follow your kiddos’ typical awake windows here too, so they don’t get overtired.
Create a barrier. My biggest sleep secret when it comes to travel is easily the Slumberpod. This is a lifesaver because it not only keeps things super dark, it also creates a safe, individual space for your little one. Add in their white noise and they have a perfect dome of solitude.
Psssst! If you’re in the market for a Slumberpod, don’t forget to use my code WHOLENIGHTSLEEP20 to save $20 off your purchase!
Create a “room”. If possible, put the pack & play in an en suite, walk in closet, or other small solo space. Creating their own space sometimes requires a little creativity - just make sure there’s nothing within reach they could pull into their bed!
Leave & Check. Of course we need to have a bit more patience when our littles are sleeping somewhere new. I suggest using the Leave & Check method with your little one until they fall asleep - assuming they’re used to falling asleep independently, of course.
Ooph, travel days. Here’s where there’s definitely more moving pieces when it comes to success and your child’s sleep. But it’s totally doable! There’s just a bit more planning involved.
If you’re driving...
It’s all about timing. Leave at their usual nap time so they can get a solid sleep in the car. If that’s not an option, getting an early start (like, really early), can also work because they’ll keep resting and you’ll make the miles by the time they would usually wake up for the day.
Let them do their thing. If it’s a loooong day of driving, don’t get too concerned about their sleep schedule. Ensuring they get enough sleep on a travel day becomes more important than exactly when they get it. But then jump back to routine once you’ve arrived at your destination.
It’s also super important that you stay on top of regular feeds and diaper changes. This is where schedule actually is important on a travel day. Make sure your little one doesn’t get too hungry for obvious reasons, but also because they’ll make up the calories all night long because they didn’t get enough to eat during the day.
If you’re flying...
Anything goes! It’s tricky for anyone to get a decent sleep on an airplane when you’re flying economy like most of us. My advice is to do what you gotta do in order to help your babe get some rest. Feeding, rocking, contact naps, or anything else that works for your little one is free game. Just help them get the sleep they need. If possible, fly during reasonable daytime hours to prevent too much sleep interruption.
Bring on the car seat. If you’re fine to spring for the cost of an extra seat, having the car seat accessible to you during the flight will really help them sleep. It’s familiar and most comfortable for them, and they have their own space to get some shut eye.
Once again, you want to set the scene, keep it predictable, and create a barrier just like we talked about earlier. Each of these steps will help you see that sleep success when it comes to camping too! I can’t recommend the Slumberpod enough - especially since bright sun and early mornings are especially prevalent when you’re camping. Just remember that the Slumberpod can only be used in a temperature controlled environment (like an RV!), so this isn’t a solution if you’re tenting.
Fold down the table. If you’re in a trailer, often you can fold down the kitchen table and put your pack & play in the booth to create your little ones’ own space.
Motion naps are your friend. There were times when we tried everything and my kids just wouldn’t nap while we were camping. This was the perfect opportunity to pop them in the carrier or stroller and take a nice long walk. It worked every time, and at least they got some sleep!
Stick to the plan... until you can’t. If naps go off the rails (it happens!), prioritize an early bedtime. If they haven’t got their required daytime sleep, they need to make it up at night or they’ll become overtired, and that will just compound - No thanks!
Remember, have fun! You want to enjoy your time away, and ensuring your little one gets their rest is something that should work for you, not against. And you know I’m always here to help if there’s a bump in the road. Struggling with sleep? Book your free call so we can get started on your custom sleep plan so you can enjoy these fleeting summer months!