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!






The Soother Fairy Came!

SootherThis is my daughter with her soother.....about 3 years ago. She is now 4.5, and yes, still has (had!) a soother. I know, I can hear the gasps now. Trust me when I say this - the timing has never been right. This is a kid who has no other comfort other than her pacifier. She can take or leave any of her stuffed animals, and there is no special "blankie" in the house that is reserved for her. Her only comforts in life have been nursing and "suckie." And since we stopped nursing a while back, suckie took its place. She has been using it only at nighttime for the past year (and very limited daytime use before that).

My husband and I have been talking about removing the pacifier for a couple of years now. It hasn't been done for several reasons:

1. It works! She sleeps well with her pacifier and it means minimal hand-holding at nighttime.

2. Our dentist approved. I know - many other dentists will tell you that it's a problem past the age of 2, but our dentist was ok with us restricting daytime use and trying to encourage her to use it less during sleep.

3. We're lazy tired. We have a 15 month old who has not been sleeping well for a long time, and the thought of losing more sleep scared us!

But alas, the day came. Our dentist told us it was time. Our daughter bites down on the soother throughout the night, which has resulted in a big gap in her bite. This needs to be rectified before adult teeth come in. Plus, she's much older now and able to understand reasoning as to why it needs to go.

So with poking and prodding gentle encouragement from my husband, we came up with a Soother Fairy plan. Just like the tooth fairy, the Soother Fairy comes and takes away the soothers, while leaving a special gift in their place. Hubby went clothes shopping at Carter's and found her some really nice outfits we knew she'd get excited about. He also wrote her a special card, congratulating her on becoming a big girl.

It's now Day 5, and things are going very well. The only problem we've encountered is early morning wake-ups - without the soother in her mouth, she's having a harder time sleeping in!

Did your child use a soother? At what age did you take it away?


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What to do when your kids won't sleep - a book that helped us

My 7 year old is a lot like me - a night owl. Every night he would lie in bed and wiggle around and simply not be able to fall asleep.  I sympathize 100% - I still feel that way most nights.  But while I sympathized it also made me more than slightly crazy.

DreadYrBdHe was up past 10 every night, impossible to wake up in the morning and a grouchy and frustrating person; we were all at a loss at what to do.  A google search suggested a book: What to Do When You Dread Your Bed: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems

I was honestly at a "what is there to lose" point so went ahead and bought it.  This book saved the day.


How it works

It's a workbook for a child so the kid in question should probably be in the 6-12 year old age range so he/she can work through it themselves and really understand the concepts.  It wouldn't work for my four year olds.

It goes through all kinds of concepts on why sleep is important, how habits are formed, and how to overcome fears. The best part?  It reinforces a lot of those lessons with MAGIC TRICKS!

It gets the child to make decisions about what will work and what won't and then they follow through an action plan of a consistent routine.

How are things now?

I don't know if this will work for everyone, but our son bought in to the logic behind everything and ultimately he was willing to implement the suggestions in the book.  It took a couple of months to slowly implement but we are now rarely hearing from him after 8:30 pm and he's actually usually asleep by 9.  He's become a far more pleasant person, often running around in the morning helping to make lunches and get everything organized instead of dragging around, crying and complaining of a stomach ache.

It worked for us.  If you have any questions, leave a comment I'd be happy to offer any extra insight.  If you had something help with getting your kids to sleep better also please leave a comment.  I know so many parents who struggle with kids who just can't seem to get to sleep.

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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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Question of the month : Sleep

Kids in the Capital is all about parents in Ottawa helping each other out by sharing tips and advice. Each month we ask a parenting question and we want to hear all the gems of advice you have to share. Just leave your answers in the comments! And if you have a question you’d like to see be a future question, leave it in the comments too! Sleep, or really, the lack thereof, is one of the biggest hurdles in parenting.  Being tired can make everything else so much harder.

My four year old is no longer going to sleep until after 9 just about every night.  This seems too late to me but despite all our efforts (waking him up earlier in the morning, running him like crazy after dinner) he just isn't tired.

Is 9 too late for a 4 year old? How late do your kids go to bed? Have you found strategies that have helped a kid who "isn't tired" relax, wind down and go to sleep more easily?  Please share!

Also, we're starting to use our Facebook Page more actively.  I posted this question there yesterday and got a lot of great feedback.  Please use this space if you have any questions for other parents (there are hundreds of them who could offer great advice!) - we're here to build community and help each other!

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