The holiday season is full of fun and family. It is a time for memories to be made and to celebrate the holidays with the ones you love. Though, holidays and sleep do not always mix well. Are you ready? Here we go: throw in a little bit of travel, some late nights, a pinch of skipped naps and a dash of well-meaning family. Ta da!
You now have a recipe for an overtired child.
Their brightest and best in their personality will be masked by feelings of crabbiness or hyperactivity. These ingredients are necessary to reach your destination and to can celebrate the holidays with your loved ones, but it is possible to tweak the recipe a bit and keep your child well-rested. Let’s add a few ingredients:
1. Plan Out Your Travel
Whether you are driving or flying, the trip is bound to get in the way of your little one’s nap schedule. My advice: to plan your travel with consideration of your child’s naps. If you are driving, plan to take those naps on the run in the car. If you are flying, you may just need to bend some rules and help your baby to sleep. Now, napping on the go is not as restorative as in a crib or bed, so expect that you might need to do a slightly earlier bedtime on the day of travel.
2. Set The Environment
We all sleep better in cool, dark and quiet conditions, right? A sleep conducive environment is one major part of ensuring your child gets the rest that they need. Sleeping in a strange place can be unsettling for a small child, but if you prepare and set up the temporary sleep environment for them, you will surely run into fewer hiccups. So, pack the Pack-n-Play, sheets that smell like home, their favorite lovie (if they are older than 12 months) and don’t forget the monitor.
Even if you are room sharing, try to stick your child’s schedule and independent sleeping habits. The more you can stay on track, the less you have to recover when you return home.
3. Stay Consistent
One of the best ways to ensure that your child is as comfortable as possible is to stay consistent in your communication and predictability. A great place to start on this is with your bedtime routine. If you can keep your bedtime routine the same as it is at home, when you travel, it will help a great deal. Another place to think about maintaining consistency is in your response
4. Have Flexibility
To maintain healthy sleep, staying consistent and offering sleep on an age appropriate schedule is very important. However, this does not mean that you need to stick to this schedule 100% of the time. Stick to it 80% of the time and then have some flexibility 20% of the time.
5. Make Up For Lost Sleep
Skipped naps and earlier bedtimes are inevitable. If you can make up for that lost sleep with a slightly earlier bedtime that day or the day after, your child will stay well rested. A bedtime that is even just a little earlier can do wonders to keep your child well rested.
6. Trust Your Gut
Lastly, it is inevitable that well-meaning friends or family will try to with assist advice or help. They may believe that if you put a baby to sleep later, they will sleep later. They could also believe that you never wake a sleeping child. There are so many sleep myths out there. Try to remember that they are just trying to help. But, stay strong and have faith in the decisions that you’ve made for your family.
With a little planning you can enjoy your celebration and avoid the holiday sleep hangover. And remember, when in doubt, add a dash of an early bedtime to make up for lost sleep and keep your child well rested. Happy holidays!