How To Keep Your Child Rested During Travel And Still Have Fun!

Spring is finally here! Some people are in the midst of travelling for spring vacation or trying to finalize a summer getaway with their family. As a mom, the concerns I have while travelling with my three favourite people – my husband, four year old and almost two year old – are much different than my non-parenting days. Things I think about today: do I have everything for the kids – diapers, snacks, colouring books and oh, snacks – lots... especially if you are going to be going on a plane! Once packing is covered, the next question that pops into my head is: where will the children sleep and can we still have fun and keep routines in check? Absolutely! This is one of the most common questions I get as a Sleep Consultant. So here are my top three tips to keep your child rested during travel so that you can still have a fun family holiday!

1.     Don’t over-schedule: Remember how I spoke about how preparing before vacation is different once you have children? This same rule applies once you arrive at your destination. You now have a child that needs sleep to be at their best during the day. Let’s face it, an overtired child who is exhausted (picture dreaded melt down!) is not what you had in mind when you planned your family holiday. So, try to honour your child’s needs and remember his or her limits. You know how much your child can handle.  Some ways that you can still be flexible: plan a fun and eventful morning, with a more restful afternoon and a dinner out. Skip a nap one day or have it on the go (i.e. stroller or car) but make sure that you are back for bedtime.

2.     Get help from the sun: Are you travelling to a new time zone? The best thing you can do once you arrive is get onto the new time as quickly as possible. Children will normally adjust more easily than adults do. Sunlight can help shift your child’s biological clock during daytime hours, so open the curtains or better yet, get outside for a family walk. As you’re approaching bedtime, do the opposite – dim the lights an hour before bed, use black out blinds or room darkening shades to promote melatonin (the sleepy hormone that the body naturally produces).

Remember, the years of making sure that you have enough fishy crackers and raisins on the plane don’t last forever! So enjoy planning and going on holidays with your family – have an amazing time!

Diane Dauphinais

Diane Dauphinais is a Certified Sleep Specialist and owner of Sound Of Sleep Consulting Services in Ottawa, ON. She has had the privilege of helping families in the Ottawa area achieve the rest they seek both for the child and the entire family. Diane is happily married with two wonderful children who love their sleep!






Mindful Kids in the Capital

by Ali 11 : 365 N is for night The beginning of school has been pretty hectic around our house. Just finding the balance between school, work, lunches, dance and homework has left my two girls and I feeling frazzled at times.  This feeling of frazzled has, unfortunately, migrated to bedtime. My youngest daughter, now 10, has always had what I’ll so lovingly call “sleep issues.” From a colicky baby who needed to be rocked to sleep to a child, to a toddler with night terrors, to a kid who spent most nights in my bed, she still has difficulty both falling and staying asleep at night. Needless to say, stress doesn’t help the matter. In comes a new strategy we’re exploring called Mindfulness For ChildrenBasically, Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to your life and your surroundings on purpose, without judgment. The recent studies I’ve read say that Mindfulness can reduce anxiety and stress in kids (and adults) and them develop social and emotional intelligence, resulting in better self-awareness and less stress which leads to happier kids. And I’m all for using it to help DD relax and fall asleep – after all, when she sleeps, I can sleep. So here are a few of the ways we’ve been trying to introduce Mindfulness into our day:

Mindful Walking

When we’re out for a walk, whether it’s to the corner store or just around the block, we are now starting to really pay attention to our surroundings. I will ask her to feel her arms move as we walk.  I ask her to notice how her feet feel as they hit the ground. I encourage her to pay attention to her five senses – the sights, sounds, smells, feel and taste of the walk. DD finds this a bit amusing but we’re getting better at it.

Mindful Listening

I find this one is best before bed and helps to settle DD. We spend a few minutes just listening to the house. We try to guess what the sounds are and what’s making them. This also helps because my daughter has a lot of fears about sounds and being alone at night. When we try to make sense of the noises, she calms a bit.

Mindful Breathing

This one has worked the best for us when I’m trying to settle my daughter before bed. We lie on her bed together and focus on our breathing. She’s pretty good at it, we’ve practiced relaxation since she was little as a way to relax and calm down. We focus on breathing in – holding it—and then focus on our breathing out. I often talk her through the breathing saying things like “In with all the good, night time thoughts, and out with all the stress of the day. Often, in the middle of the Mindful Breathing, my daughter will finally settle and then I hear her deep slow breaths turn into sleeping breaths (my very favorite sound). These techniques aren’t perfect and they do take some practice but it really has helped my daughter and me at night, especially at 2 in the morning when she’s awake (again) and we need to start all over.

If you have any sleep strategies for older kids, please share! I’m all ears!

Ali is a psychotherapist, blogger, social media enthusiast and chocoholic. She is also a Dance Mom to two awesome girls. She is the owner of Second Act Consignment Dancewear and creator  of Therapy Stew. She blogs at AliGoldfield
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