Chances are you are one of the 55 million Americans that will be traveling this holiday season. Go on your family trip this year — without walking through it in a sleep-deprived daze.
Look, travel is hard on everybody. Exciting, yes. But also totally and utterly overwhelming sometimes, and kids are way less equipped to deal with it. They get hungry. Bored. Grumpy. Overwhelmed. Overstimulated. And then when they finally arrive at their destination, everything is new, and sleep is so overrated.
A kid whose sleep schedule is altered can throw off any possibility of having a good time though, so don’t let this runaway train get away from you. Here’s how to keep your kids on their sleep schedule while you travel.
#1 — Stick to Your Routine
Across time zones, red eyes, and hotel check-ins, it’s important to stick to your routine as much as possible. Bring everything you need to replicate what you do at home and do it in roughly the same time and order.
#2 — Stick to Your Napping Schedule (As Much As Possible)
Getting kids to nap during travel, short of being in a car, is pretty tough. Even in a busy airport or on a crowded flight though, there are ways to make it happen:
- Buy a stroller with a really big canopy to help block out people and distractions.
- Use a baby carrier with a hood you can pull up over the baby’s head.
- If you’re stuck on a layover, ask the airport staff about private lounges or quiet spots to sleep.
- Try out some noise-canceling headphones for older kids (just be careful with cords).
#2 — Get There Before Bedtime
When you get to a new place, the last thing your kids are going to want to do is just lay down and go to sleep. They’ve gotta open all of the drawers in the dresser. They’ve gotta jump on the beds and look out the window. Pick up the phone and babble gibberish at the lady at the front desk.
Do yourself a favor and plan your flights and travel arrangements so that you arrive at your hotel at least two hours before bedtime. This will give you time to get settled in and for the excitement to wear off enough for your kids to fall asleep.
#3 — Create a Familiar Space
I know you’ve already packed half of your house for this trip, but if it’s for the sake of sleep, it’s worth the extra baggage fee.
Bring as much as you can to recreate your child’s sleep space at home: their favorite lovie, a nightlight, a blanket, even just their pillowcase. Create a space in your hotel room that’s all theirs for sleep and try to wall it off from the rest of the room as much as possible.
#4 — Create Sleep Space Separation
It can be tough to sleep in a room full of people if your kids are used to sleeping in their own room. Obviously spring for an adjoined room if you can (and bring some baby monitors), but if you can’t, get creative instead.
Use blankets and big clamps to make a fort over a floor bed. Use a baby gear rental service like Baby Quip to rent travel beds and pack and plays. Give them their own space so they’re less likely to be distracted by whomever else is in the room.
#5 — Let Go of Expectations
Traveling with kids is complicated, and it very seldom goes according to plan. Try to let go of expectations as much as possible. Stick to your routine, but if someone skips a nap or stays up too late, do not let it elevate your blood pressure.
Stress will only make this process more challenging, so if your kids start fighting you on sleep, repeat the tired mama mantra to yourself:
Traveling parents — how do you manage sleep schedules when you’re out exploring with your kids? Tell us on Facebook or Instagram — *asking for a friend. @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!