Summer is officially here which means travel season is in full swing. For parents of young children the mere thought of a vacation can bring on anxiety. From what to pack to where to stay to how to adjust their schedules – vacation takes on a whole new meaning once you have little ones. Vacation essentials like staying out late and sleeping in are replaced by early dinners and even earlier mornings. Most parents will find that even the best sleepers will experience some minor disruptions and schedules can easily go by the wayside. While some of this is just a normal and inevitable part of having small children there are a few things you can do to make travel more manageable.
1) Start with a well rested child. A child who has healthy sleep to start will be able to adapt much more easily to changes in schedule or routine.
2) Stick to your routine as much as possible. This can be challenging but it will help ease the transition for your child and let him know what to expect. Try to especially follow your bedtime routine which will help signal it is time for sleep. You may need to soothe your child a bit longer than usual as they get used to their new sleeping environment.
3) But be flexible too! Don’t forget you are on vacation and things likely won’t be perfect so just do the best you can do with what you have. Remember you are making memories!
4) Bring along the comforts of home- be sure to pack your child’s lovey, noise machine, bedtime story, special blanket, favorite pj’s, etc. This will help nap time and bedtime go more smoothly. You may even bring along a used crib sheet so that it also smells like home.
5) Choose their sleeping space wisely- babies and younger children can often sleep in their crib in a closet or bathroom to ensure a dark, quiet space. Older children may be a bit more difficult to accomodate but do your best to recreate the environment they have at home.
6) Traveling first thing in the morning tends to be easier with small children for various reasons- lighter traffic, fewer delays, they are rested and in a good mood. Be sure to take breaks to allow them to get some fresh air and/or exercise. Road trips especially offer lots of opportunity to have picnics and play time. Additionally, try to avoid travel during nap time if possible. Getting a good nap will not only keep your child in a good mood but it will also help with nighttime sleep.
7) Be prepared for early risings the first few days- just like you, it may take your child a few days to adapt to the new surroundings.
8) The more you travel, the more used to it your child will get and the easier it will become.
9) For the older child prepare them ahead of time for what will happen and what to expect.
10) Upon arriving home jump right back into your routine without hesitation- it may take a few days to get back on track so be prepared and be patient.
11) HAVE FUN!!!!