Although this holiday season may be different for you as it is for many of us this year, you might still be wondering how you can maintain your child’s sleep schedule through your holiday travels and how you can avoid over-tiredness. I always talk about the 80/20 rule with parents. If 80% of the time you are meeting their nap and night sleep needs, then 20% of the time can be left for some wiggle room when special occasions happen.
Maintain Your Routine As Much As You Can
When your child is sleeping in a new space, consider doing your bedtime routine even when you are out of the house. Your child will find comfort in their bedtime routine and it will cue their brain that sleep is coming, regardless of where you are.
Whether this is during Christmas or a holiday getaway, you can implement the same things away from home as you do in your home. For example; you can bring your typical bedtime book, sing the same lullaby you usually do, bring your sound machine, and put a black blanket over the curtains to ensure a dark environment for your child.
Keeping up with your child’s routine will help them to feel relaxed and calm in a new environment and in a place that might be causing overwhelm, over-stimulation and possibly over-tiredness.
Make Naps A Priority
Every child is different. You might have a very flexible child that can manage through any sleep changes, and then there are those who are not so flexible. It’s easy to think, “It’s alright, they can just nap in the car”, but before you know it, your child is melting down at your family dinner.
If you can leave the house after your child’s nap, this is best! If you can’t because of the circumstances, that’s ok. An earlier bedtime can make up for that. It’s important to keep in mind that when daytime sleep is affected, night-time sleep is also affected, resulting in those night waking’s.
Too many skipped or on-the-go naps (causing a less-restorative nap), can put your child in an over-tired state. Here are some signs an over-tired child might show:
-Having a difficult time settling at bedtime
-Early morning waking’s
-Fussy in the late afternoon/ dinnertime
-Frequent night waking’s
For Older Children, Prepare Them By Telling Them What They Can Expect
For your toddler or child, the best thing you can do is really preparing them for this change. When children know exactly what to expect, it often diminishes any power struggles. You can talk to them about things such as where you are going and where they will be sleeping. Toddlers or even older children want to know everything!
Try Not To Stress Too Much About Changes!
As a parent, it is normal to be worried about change, especially when we are so used to being home and they are so used to their own environment. You might be wondering: “Will my child nap?”, “How are they going to sleep?”. If things really go off track, you can always get back on track when you return home.
Depending on how off track you went during the holidays, it may take some time to get back to your norm, but things will always go back to normal as long as you stay consistent with how things previously were! Give it some time.
Note that when you do decide to get back on track, it can be helpful to prioritize those naps and bedtimes and refrain from being flexible until your child is sleeping well again. If your child has accumulated a bit of sleep debt, the best solution to this is an earlier bedtime and in some cases, this can even mean 6pm. Earlier bedtimes will not cause an earlier wake. Sleep begets sleep, remember that!
I hope you find these tips to be helpful. If you ever need any support, you can book a free 15 minute call and we will help set you back on the right track. Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy holiday season!