The snow is on its way out (hopefully!) and perhaps you are planning a family getaway! Feeling a bit nervous about it all? I get it. We are planning two days away with our two and five year-olds and I can’t wait, but there are a few things that I know need to be in place so that we can all enjoy our time away and keep our patience in tact. Here are my top tips to keep you covered for enjoying your spring time vacation!
Plan, plan, plan!
Part of getting away for vacation is about being flexible, taking a break and having fun. In order to do so, you must plan ahead. If you have a baby, a toddler or pre-schooler this is especially true. Here are some important items that will help make planning easier!
- Make a list. Write out a checklist of what you absolutely need to bring and check each item off as it goes into a suitcase. Bring your list with you so that you can have peace of mind by knowing that each item has been packed before heading back home. This will keep you from forgetting your iPad and preventing a melt down with a stuffy that gets left behind.
- Travelling by plane? Make sure that you have everything you need to feed your baby, plenty of diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes just in case. Try to condense it enough so that you can store it under the seat in front of you and avoid going into the overhead compartment which can be tricky.
- Taking a road trip? A DVD player or child’s favourite story book can be helpful if you are going to be travelling by car with a child between the ages of two and five years old.
- Healthy snacks. Prepare to have plenty of good healthy snacks on hand, such as homemade trail mix, sandwiches, muffins or your child’s favourite fruit to avoid buying sugar filled or fried food options at the airport or highway stops.
Keep in mind that the odd missed nap or later than usual bedtime isn’t the end of the world, but you do want to schedule important outings ahead of time so that your little one does not miss out on quality sleep each day and night. Otherwise, the overtiredness will be sure to show up at some point, which is not fun for you or your child.
- Travel days will be travel days, so just do the best that you can until you arrive at your destination. If you are going on a plane, the goal is for you and your little one to be comfortable until you arrive – if he decides to take a nap and it isn’t his usual nap time – don’t sweat it. Then, once you reach your destination, follow your child’s nap times and bedtimes as usual.
- Separate sleeping space. Just a few nights of sharing a bed with your child when he is not used to sleeping with you can lead to a habit that might become challenging to break once you get back home. Hotels usually have cribs available if you ask, or you can bring a pack and play if you are staying at a friend or family member’s home. Plan for a room with a bed for an older child or purchase a travel bed for toddlers/pre-schoolers if you travel a lot.
Make sure to have other important key sleep items on hand:
- A favourite lovey or blanket;
- Sleep sack for babies – Halo has a variety of fabrics and sizes – www.halosleep.com;
- Sound machine to create a familiar background sound and block any noise while baby sleeps; and/or
- Gro blinds to keep the room nice and dark during sleep times.
If you are travelling to a new time zone, the best thing to do is try and get in line with the new time as quickly as possible. Use sunlight to help keep your child awake and darkness to increase melatonin (sleepy hormone). Both are incredibly helpful strategies for resetting your body’s internal clock. The regular daily routines of meal times, bedtime routines, etc. are extremely helpful in cuing your child’s mind and body for what comes next. For example, if nap time happens right after lunch, following this same routine will help your child adjust very quickly to the new time.
Vacations can happen few and far between during the course of the year. Remember to have a wonderful time away with the most important people in your life!
Still need help with getting more sleep for your family? Check out my upcoming online workshop More Sleep For Baby that will have your baby and you sleeping soon!