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 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!