It’s summer and summer means; V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! When on vacation with children, ensuring adequate sleep can be challenging. Vacation can disrupt sleep, unless you plan for it. With a few hacks, you can ensure that everyone gets a good night’s sleep (aka a smart night sleep) while traveling. Here are some sleep hacks for vacation with children:
Choose accommodations wisely:
This is my #1 vacation sleep hack. The right place to stay can make or break your sleep while on vacation. When selecting accommodations, opt for family-friendly options that offer separate sleeping areas or rooms. This allows children to have their own space, reducing disruptions and promoting better sleep for everyone. It also allows you as the parent to not have to go to bed when the kids are going to bed. Our family loves to travel in suite-type hotels or vacation rentals.
Pack a Sleep Bag:
Coming in at #2: Pack familiar comfort items such as stuffed animals, blankets, or pillows that your children associate with sleep. Having these familiar items with them can provide a sense of security and help them relax in a new environment. Having it all in one bag (i.e. the “Sleep Bag’) is convenient. If you arrive close to bedtime, then all you need to worry about unpacking is the sleep bag, at first. The rest of unpacking can come after the kids are asleep.
Create a sleep-friendly environment:
Environment is so important! Take steps to create a sleep-friendly environment wherever you’re staying. We all sleep better in cave-like conditions: dark, cool and quiet. Use blackout curtains or blinds to block out excessive light. It is best to minimize noise by using a white noise machine.
Tip on the white noise: place it close to your child’s door, to block the noise from where it is coming from.
Tip on room darkening: you can never be sure if the vacation rental will have blackout curtains, it is a ok to pack black garbage bags and painters tape.
Stick to a routine:
Try to maintain a consistent sleep routine as much as possible. Stick to regular bedtimes and wake-up times, as best as you can. Your child has an internal biological sleep clock. They will sleep better at specific times of the day, based off of their internal biological clock and jostling their normal sleep routine too much can end up in bedtime battles and / or sleep disruptions.
Establish or maintain sleep rules:
If you already have a set of sleep rules for your children, there is no reason that they have to go out the window on vacation. Stay consistent. If you have not established any sleep rules, this would be a good time to do so, especially if your children are sharing a room with you or a sibling. These can be very simple rules, communicating when it is time to sleep and when it is ok to get up.
Keep your bedtime routine:
Help your children wind down before bedtime by maintaining your normal bedtime routine. This can include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music. Consistent and predictable bedtime routines signal to their bodies that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep.
Plan for downtime:
Vacation is exciting and often action packed, but allowing for periods of downtime during the day to prevent your children from becoming overtired. Overstimulation and exhaustion can make it more difficult for them to settle down at night. If they become overtired, it is much harder to fall asleep at night. Take breaks, find quiet spaces, or engage in calming activities to help them recharge.
Be flexible and patient:
Remember that vacations can disrupt routines. If your child is already well rested, I suggest sticking to the 80/20 rule of sleep: 80% of the time you stick to the plan, 20% of the time you can vary from it.
It may also take time for your children to adjust to the new environment. Be patient and understanding if they have difficulty sleeping initially. Offer reassurance, comfort, and support to help them settle into a sleep routine while on vacation.
By implementing these vacation sleep hacks, you can improve the chances of your children getting the restful sleep they need, allowing them (and you) to fully enjoy the vacation experience.
Wishing you memorable and restful adventures with your family.