Going away whether it is a staycation, a trip over to Europe or a further afield destination, can be very different when you have children. One of the things we hope to achieve while away is some sleep for the whole family, so what can you do to set yourselves up for the best chance of some shut eye while you're away?
Pack some home comforts for your little one, I find a sheet that has been used once or twice at home works wonders as a familiar smell goes a long way. Pack their usual teddy/comforter and sleeping bag if they still use one.
A portable black out blind is a must, you can get some great suction ones, their monitor if you’re sleeping in a different room to them and a portable white noise machine can help mask any unusual sounds they're not used to hearing.
Keep their bed time routine as similar as possible to the one you use at home. When you’re out and about on holiday, it can be easy to be in a rush and get back feeling you need to get them in bed quickly if it’s late, but take that time to wind down, calm down and follow their bed time routine to allow them time to adjust and understand what is happening next. Even toddlers and older children, this familiar routine can really help ground them before bed.
If you’re only one or two hours ahead on a trip to Europe, I highly recommend keeping them on UK time. This means it’s often easier to take them out in the evenings for dinner with you, and they’ll hopefully also offer you a lie in as a holiday treat. For example, if you’re in Spain, they’re two hours ahead. So 7:30pm UK time is 9:30pm Spain time. This allows them to potentially go to bed a bit ‘later’ and wake a little ‘later’ once you have adjusted to Holliday time but they’re still on UK time. Keep their naps the same as they would also have UK time. It also takes out any stress of trying to change their sleep patterns when you arrive and get home.
If you’re further afield and the time distance is greater, just go with it. Switch to the new time zone ASAP then follow their usual routine in the new time zone. You might need to factor some extra naps and adjustments the first two days and during day light hours expose them to day light as much as possible to help their circadian rhythm adjust.
Remember if your little one is sleeping in a new environment to you all, check the room and sleep space for safety measures. Ensure there are:
No loose blind cords or strings
Bedding is secure, flat and firm
Beds are not next to radiators or directly under air con units
Travel cots are secure and don’t have any parts missing and don’t place any towels or blankets on top of the mattress,
Check the temperature of the room - this may not be possible to check the exact temperature of the room but if it feels too hot or too cool, dress your child appropriately for bed time. Remember less is more and feel their chest or the back of their neck to check their temperature.
Ultimately you’re on holiday! While ideally it would be great if your little one slept brilliantly while you’re away, this might not be the case and you may need to offer them more support. Also warmer weather or increased activities can mean they need a bit more sleep than usual while you're away. Once you’re home you can get back into your usual routines!
Packing list for sleep:
Pjs long and short sleeve
Portable blackout blind
Portable white noise machine
Usual bubble bath
Teddy/comforter if they have them
Bottles/sippy cup for bed time milk
Calpol travel sachets (It can sometimes be confusing finding alternatives when you’re abroad so packing some back ups can be really useful)
Working out your baby or child's sleep needs can be daunting and it can also cause worry that you may disrupt them or make their sleep more unbalanced that it currently is.
This is where working with a professional can help you look at your little one's current schedule, the issues you're facing and where they are in their development and whats going on in their home life and help you to build a schedule that works for your individual.
If you would like more help with your child's sleep I can help create a tailor made plan for your family based on your individual needs. Explore my packages for something that suit you