It's no surprise when I say - the holidays are a crazy time for most families. Some of you may be traveling with little ones for the holidays, and some may have guests coming to your home. Regardless of how you plan to celebrate the holidays with your family, it is best to be properly prepared in terms of your child's sleep.
1. DO WHAT YOU FEEL IS BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that's just it, it is their own PERSONAL opinion. Perhaps your cousin doesn't follow a strict sleep schedule, and chooses a more "go with the flow" style of parenting, that is fine, she has chosen what works best for her family, and you have done the same for yours. You know your children best! You know where your children will sleep best, you know how your children will act when not properly rested. Do not feel guilt tripped into doing anything that you do not want to do, or may hinder your child's sleep. You are not required to attend every single holiday event your family is invited to. There will always be a difference of opinions during family events, move on and do not let it get you down.
If you are a Type A person like me, relaxing and letting go of control can be a difficult task. If you want to enjoy family events, and stray from a schedule, do it! This holiday season, I recommend relaxing as best as you can! Straying from your little one's schedule for a short period of time won't cause a lifelong impact on your child's sleep. A few days after returning home, and sticking to a consistent schedule, your little one will fall back into place.
REMEMBER THE 80/20 RULE. KEEP TO YOUR SCHEDULE 80% OF THE TIME AND YOU WILL BE FINE!
3. DO NOT MAKE BIG CHANGES PRIOR TO EVENTS/TRAVEL
If you know you have events, travelling and a busy schedule coming this holiday season, do not make any sudden changes to your child's routine beforehand. This means nap transitions, sleep training, and any other schedule changes should be completed at least 1 week before the events/travelling is due to happen.
4. DO NOT OVER SCHEDULE YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILDREN
One of the biggest mistake’s parents make during the holiday season is trying to pack everything into an already tight schedule. The fact is, once you have children attending everything can not only be difficult for parents, but it can be difficult on children. It is best to slow down, and make your children's sleep a priority. My biggest recommendation is to allow at least ONE nap/quiet time take place in a playpen, crib, safe sleep safe, etc. It is very easy for children to become over-stimulated with an over packed schedule. Breaks, and restful sleep is important for children, and parents!
5. SOME CONSISTENCY STILL MATTERS
Relaxing and allowing your child to stray from a nap schedule, to attend an important event is fine every now and again. However - there are still parts of your little ones sleep that should remain consistent. Day sleep recommendations should still be taken into consideration to avoid your little one from becoming over tired, and bedtime should still be at a reasonable hour. Being consistent with your child's nap/bedtime routines will help your child feel more prepared for sleep after a busy day, or in a place that isn't familiar to them.
Children get overstimulated, and going from a busy event to sleep can be difficult for even the best sleepers. Even if your child is the best sleeper are home, if you are traveling for the holidays and staying in an unfamiliar environment, things may be different.
This brings us to the next part of the list: Special tips for traveling!
1. BE PREPARED
Does your child sleep with a lovey? Use white noise at home? Pack all of the essentials that your child uses at home to get an restful sleep. Bring proper equipment to cover windows to create a dark environment which encourages better sleep. You can purchase the slumberpod (For US), Snooze Shade (For Canada) to make a dark environment much easier while traveling!
2. BRING BEDDING FROM HOME
This is a trick I have personally found made traveling easier as a mother myself. Take the sheet and special blanket (if there is one) straight from your child's bed. Why? Because not only does your child's bedding FEEL familiar, it also SMELLS familiar.
3. DO NOT START CO-SLEEPING IF YOU DON'T ALREADY
This is a problem a lot of parents encounter while on vacation. Schedules get thrown off, the child is not sleeping as well and the parents cave and bring the child into bed with them. This is a big no-no for babies who are independent sleepers, and can easily set your child back in terms of independent sleep.
4. BENDING THE RULES IS OK
It is fine to bend the “rules” some. Offering some extra comfort is fine, especially if your child is frightened during the night because it is a strange place. If you do not already assist your child fully to sleep, this is not the time to start. Offering reassurance is different than assisting to fully asleep.
5. ROOM SHARING
If you are not already sharing a room with your child at home, do not start now. If you are staying in an open room hotel, try to find a spot for the child’s bed where you cannot be seen. If this is not possible, try to find a spot for you and your company where the child cannot see you. Once your child is asleep, it is fine to enter the room again. You may find that your child doesn’t sleep as well if you are stuck sharing a room, this happens because he is now used to sleeping alone and can sense your presence. There is an exception to this rule: Typically after 2 years of age, children are okay with sharing a room while traveling, and can easily adapt back to their own room once home.
Trips do not need to be canceled in fear of ruining schedules and night sleep, When you return home, if sleep is still off, reach out and we can chat!
Sleep & Visitors
1. EXPLAIN TO VISITORS/FAMILY THAT SLEEP IS A PRIORITY
The holidays can be tough when family who aren't typically around come to visit, and of course want to spend time with your child/children. It is important to vocalize that sleep is important to you, and your children. Stand your ground for what is important to you as a parent.
2. INVOLVE FAMILY IN ROUTINES
If your child is easy going, you may be able to allow out of town family to be involved in nap & bedtime routines. Maybe Grandma can bath baby instead of you that night. This will help family feel more involved, but also keeps sleep as a priority.
3. PLAN AHEAD
The first nap of the day is typically the best nap for children who have more than 1 nap per day. Try to schedule guests to come after that nap ends, or towards the end of it. If you know you have family coming during a nap time, plan ahead and increase the volume on your sound machine for that nap, This will help ensure your child is still getting a good nap, and not being awoken before they are ready.
Traveling, or staying home for the holidays, both can be equally stressful. This holidays season, take a moment to soak it up and try not to stress about things falling out of place. I hope this list helps your holiday season go smoothly with your family!