Planning a family trip but wondering how to handle your child’s sleep routine? Learn 7 smart ways to maintain your child’s sleep schedule on vacation. This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Regalo. All opinions are 100% mine.
I had been planning our family trip, down to the sites to visit, the restaurants to eat, and the rental house we’d stay. But as much as I had planned for what we’d do once we got there, I realized I hadn’t considered my kids’ routine, particularly their sleep schedule.
Even now, I work hard to keep a nap and bedtime routine at home, so much so that my kids hardly sleep anywhere else. You know those pictures of kids who fall asleep in the middle of eating a bowl of spaghetti? That would never happen to mine.
Because my kids—other than the occasional car ride—can only sleep in their beds.
So the thought of going to sleep anywhere else but at home scared me a bit. We’d been following the same sleep routine to a T. Would our vacation be one disaster after another?
How to maintain your child’s sleep schedule on vacation
Thankfully, we were able to enjoy ourselves and get the sleep we needed. The kids adjusted to their temporary sleeping arrangements and went on outings between their regular routine. The best part? We returned home with no major overhaul or sleep habits undone.
If you’re planning a trip with your family, follow these tips to avoid ruining your child’s sleep schedule on vacation:
1. Keep a consistent schedule before leaving
Routines get a bad rap sometimes. We assume strict schedules push flexibility aside, and kids can’t enjoy spontaneous activities or a late night out. But a consistent routine actually allows your child even more flexibility because he’ll be more open to change.
With a consistent schedule, your child will see your family vacation as an exciting diversion from the norm. He’ll be less likely resist the changes, knowing that a vacation is a special treat.
Plus, keeping a consistent schedule before leaving gives you and your child a chance to practice your routine often enough that it becomes automatic. The familiarity of the routine, even in a new environment, will make sleep smoother than if he had nothing consistent to compare it to.
2. Bring familiar items related to your child’s routine
I had made a big mistake.
I planned my kids’ sleeping arrangements except for one important item I had left at home: A fan. Not because the weather was hot, but because at home, the fan provided the white noise they needed.
So when we arrived and slept for the night, my kids took forever to fall asleep because of the pitch silence in their room. Plus, without the white noise muffling their sounds, I also had to tiptoe around the rental house so I wouldn’t wake them up.
Lesson learned: Bring the items you need that will simulate your child’s sleep environment at home. This includes a white noise machine, lovey, any special blankets, nursery songs, pillows or bedtime books he relies on to fall asleep.
3. Provide your child with his own sleeping space
On a previous trip, I thought I’d save some money by having our then-toddler share the bed with me. I figured he was tiny, and he might feel overwhelmed sleeping in a large bed all by himself.
Not my best decision. Even with ample space, the little guy still took over the bed and woke me up with constant tossing and turning.
My advice on how to get a toddler to sleep in a hotel? Provide him with his own sleeping space so he doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
Regalo portable cots are perfect toddler travel sleep solution—you can still save money by getting a single room while provide him with a sleeping space all on his own.
The cots are also useful for camping and outdoor adventures. They’re more comfortable than simple sleeping bags on the ground, and make for an excellent spot for your child to lounge or nap.
You can also get longer cots for bigger kids or roomier sleep, and even a deluxe version for added comfort. And the cots are useful after travel too—think sleepovers, camping and picnics.
4. Maintain the same routine as much as possible
One of the reasons your toddler suddenly won’t sleep on vacation is a lack of routine.
With vacation a special treat, it’s understandable if you skip a nap or push bedtime back a bit. But if possible, try to maintain the same routine even when you’re on vacation. Your child may feel overtired, especially from all your outings.
For instance, try to head back to your hotel or rental for naps, and keep the same bedtime if you can. At first I thought this would be difficult, but then I realized many of our outings could fit either before or after the naps, and few of them needed the kids to stay up past their bedtime.
Maintaining the same routine helped make our stay more enjoyable, especially when the kids were able to get the rest they needed.
5. Give your child plenty of downtime
It’s tempting to pack every minute of your vacation with something to do, almost like you’re trying to make it worth your while. But with so much going on, plus adjusting to a new environment, a packed schedule can make your child feel overwhelmed.
Instead, give him plenty of downtime. He can recover in your hotel or rental if the schedule feels too hectic so he’s refreshed to go on the next outing.
Schedule downtime by padding each outing with time to lounge at home, or you set aside several hours to a whole day without an agenda.
6. Get a different room for your child
As frugal as a single hotel room may be, a huge downside is that you’re sleeping in the same room as your child. This may be fine during the day, but come bedtime, both your bedtimes will likely be disrupted—she’s sleeping past hers while you’re sleeping earlier than yours.
Try to get a hotel suite that includes a separate room for your child, or rent a home with a separate bedroom. This allows you to make use of the other spaces without calling it a day come your child’s bedtime.
Regalo portable cots will come in handy here as well. If you’re worried your child will feel overwhelmed by a large bed all by herself, use a cot that fits her sleeping needs better.
7. Don’t forget time differences
Depending on where you go, you may have to adjust for the time differences between home and your destination. Account for time spent on a plane, or what time it’ll be when you land.
Then, adjust our child’s schedule at home, gradually if need be. Let’s say you’re traveling to a place that’s two hours ahead of your time zone. Change his daily schedule a few weeks before leaving so the new time zone isn’t so jarring.
Before kids, a vacation may have been a time to relax away from home, but with kids in tow, family vacations aren’t always relaxing or conducive to a toddler sleep schedule.
Thankfully, your routine doesn’t have to change too much, even while on vacation. Maintain your child’s sleep schedule on vacation by keeping a consistent routine before leaving, as well as during your time away.
Bring sleep items that are part of your routine to make the new environment feel more familiar. Give your child his own space, such as providing a sleeping cot, and even his own room. Include plenty of downtime to buffer the constant outings, and adjust for time differences gradually.
Vacations don’t have to ruin your child’s sleep schedule—even if forgetting to bring the fan might.
Interested in the sleeping cots? Get a Regalo Portable Cot right here