While I don’t think it’s possible to completely solve the vacation-with-children sleep debacle, these sleep-boosting tips will help you maximize your rest-time while away from home.
#1. Bring Your Own Pillow- Whether it’s fluffy or flat, we’re all attached to a particular style of pillow. Bring your pillow from home as well as your children’s favorite blankets. Just don’t leave them behind when you check out of the hotel.
#2. Set Up a Restful Environment- An hour or so before bedtime, help the kids wind down by dimming the lights and playing soft music. Take a bath, read blogs, give back rubs- all of these relaxing rituals will prime your littles for sound slumber.
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#3. Consider Natural Sleep Aids- After chatting with your healthcare professional, determine what natural sleep aids may benefit you and your children on restless nights. We haven’t resorted to pharmaceutical sleep aids, but we have used natural products like Natural Calm and Rescue Remedy A calming cup of chamomile tea can also help wired travelers unwind.
#4. Crank Up the White Noise Machine- Early in our parenting days, Dr. Harvey Karp (the Happiest Baby author) ingrained in us the value of white noise. A portable white noise machine or white noise CD/digital file can help drown out the noise of the dance team partying next door or the honking street traffic outside. My friend Kristen (who travels with six children in tow) says, “We take a box fan to put in the room where we sleep, so it will sound like home (we all sleep with box fans in our rooms at home). Also, it helps block out any outside noise if you are in a noisy hotel or something.”
#5. Get a Suite- We just used Hotwire for the first time, and we wound up with a fabulous suite on the Riverwalk in San Antonio for a great price. It was such a treat to have room to spread out and a bedroom door to close. These perks spell longer sleep and happier parents.
#6. Active Days- Wear them out. That’s our goal on most any vacation (case in point- our yearly Family Sports Camp). Completely exhausted kiddos usually sleep well. Just get them to bed before they’re overtired.
#7. Manage Naptime- Kids have an inclination to resist naps on vacation until they finally give in and fall asleep around 6pm In our family, late naps usually mean trouble at bedtime, so we try to have them nap earlier in the day or else not nap at all. If we’re out and about all day, the toddler can always nap in her backpack (we’ve used an assortment of baby carriers from pouch slings and ring slings to wraps. For toddlers and long hikes, my favorites are soft-structured carriers like Boba and Ergo).
#8. Dietary Triggers- If your kiddos have any dietary triggers that derail their sleep, take heed to avoid those foods. Whether it’s red dye or gluten, a food that troubles your child usually troubles your sleep. Often, I find myself throwing caution to the wind on vacation and drinking too much caffeine into the evening hours- another no no that bothers my sleep. Reckless abandon with food is fun, but sleep is even better.