Ah it’s holiday season, time to dust off those sunglasses and hats, remember what sun cream is –oh no wait, if you’re holidaying in the UK you may not need any of those items.
But still, after a loooong time trapped in lockdown, for some babies / toddlers this will be the first time they have ever stayed away from home.
For most parents going away is actually a very anxiety fueled experience, especially us women. I mean, we’re packing for potentially 3 or 4 maybe even 5 humans. We have to potentially pack for multiple weather fronts, outfits for daytime and night time, not to mention all the other stuff.
AND BY OTHER STUFF I MEAN, weaning things if your baby is on solids, comfy toys, entertainment in the form of games and toys for wherever you are staying. Toiletries, nappies, the separate shampoos that the little ones use, their own toothpaste, I haven’t even started on the sleep bits yet……
Then there’s the stuff you need for travelling with – I usually have a separate bag for all that. So snacks, snacks and more snacks. Wet wipes, bags to put rubbish in, books, toys…OMG I could go on but you know the struggle!
KEEP CALM IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY
The first thing I always like to say is don’t freak out. This is a holiday and you deserve to enjoy yourself. The whole point of a holiday is a break away from the routine, the cleaning and the mundane ness that can become our lives as mothers. You don’t want to come back feeling like you need a holiday after the holiday – yes that is sometimes how I feel.
One of the most common concerns when holidaying with little ones is will my child suddenly stop sleeping and will I undo all my hard work?
The answer is NO, if your child was in a good routine and sleeping well before you go away a week of disrupting that will not mean everything falls apart on return. They will just slot back into place again, although it may take a few days.
If your child wasn’t sleeping great before you go away, you might struggle with sleep on holiday and this is just because overtired babies and toddlers are always going to battle to sleep.
The best thing you can do, is to get into better sleep habits before you go away. So start having a consistent morning wake up and bedtime as that will help you to structure the day.
Not wanting to freak you out but the main thing you want to avoid is overtiredness, knowing the number and duration of naps your child needs will help you once on holiday not to be battling with the sleep.
Check out my routine guides HERE if you want a detailed plan of action before you go away. Even if you have a newborn, a little planning beforehand will help you out hugely.
Bedtime is always tricky when away because of meals out in the evening. Where possible try and have lunch out instead, that way baby can take their big nap in the buggy and come back for bedtime in their beds.
Otherwise, dinner out is fine but be prepared with some props that will encourage baby/toddler to sleep at that time. Read on for more tips from me about what you can do to prepare for sleep on holiday.
MY TOP TIPS ARE
Bring home comforts that they normally sleep with. You want to try and replicate the home environment as much as possible. This may be toys, sleep bag even a pillow.
Try your best to stick to the usual sleep / wake times. This may mean waking up at the same time in the morning and trying for naps around the same time. If this isn't possible than focus on getting them their usual day sleep amount across the day.
If you're eating out and bedtime will be later, let them have a power nap a couple of hours before bedtime. Keep it short and this may not work for older toddlers.
If you will be out for nap time, bring the buggy, get a blackout cover for it, use a white noise machine or ear defenders if you're worried about noise.
My recommendation for blackout solution is Snooze Shade and you can check that out here. They have covers for buggy's as well as an amazing travel cot that completely blacks out!
SET YOUR EXPECTIONS
I think it’s useful to set your expectation before you go away that sleep isn’t going to be ideal. I don’t think you need to assume it’s going to fall apart but it’s harder to make plans and there will likely be more naps on the go.
This is fine, often on holiday little ones get very stimulated by the changes in environment and so they will fall asleep on the go more than they would perhaps normally.
You don’t want to be on holiday and obsessed with sleep, do whatever you need to do to get them some sleep. If that means cat napping all day then so be it.
If all else fails you can try a couple of early nights to help keep overtiredness at bay. Try not to introduce any new sleep associations while you’re away as these can stick.
Sleep WILL happen, it may not be the usual way or the same timings but it will happen, all you can do it try your best and then get back on track when home.
When you do get home, early bedtimes for a few days will help to catch them up on any lost sleep.
Overall your main objective with sleep on holiday is to stay calm, prepare best you can but accept that things won’t be perfect and that’s okay. You won’t undo your hard work in teaching your child to sleep well if you stay consistent in how you put them to sleep.
If your child isn’t a great sleeper anyway, you may want to work on at least getting them into a structure during the day before you go, so that you can make sleep a little more predictable.
The main thing that is hard to achieve on holiday is routine and sticking to structure but if you at least keep an eye on awake windows (don’t know what they are? I got you covered with my FREE guide, grab yours here). That way you are avoiding overtiredness which is what will disrupt night sleep.
Bringing home comforts will help as well as black out solutions don’t forget to check out my recommendation Snooze Shade here.
If all else fails early to bed will help but things will go back to normal once you return home. Remember to enjoy yourself and relax - it will be okay. Happy holidays.
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