Taking your family on the road for the holidays can be a daunting task. One of the toughest moments to navigate is bedtime. Many of us have a routine at home that we cling to like a life preserver. At home, the kids know their bedtime ritual and there are few surprises. Whether you're staying with family or in a hotel for the holidays, the only thing you can expect are surprises.
The goal is to plan ahead, stay disciplined and be patient — especially at the beginning of your trip. It might be a holiday for the kids but if they're not getting proper rest, it won't be a holiday for any of you. Try these tips:
1. Be consistent.
The most important thing you can do is to try and keep the same routine you have at home. If bath time is at 7, then do your best to stick to it. Same with bedtime. It will be tempting to give your kids more latitude — and that might work in some instances — but be consistent, especially at the beginning of your trip.
2. Pack heavy.
If your kids love to sleep with a special blanket, stuffed animal, and pillow, make sure they are all safely packed for the trip. Also bring your child's favorite books, soothing music CD, and a noise machine, if these items will fit on the plane.
3. Make it like home.
If possible, try to make sure the room your kid will be sleeping in has a similar feel to the room they sleep in at home. If you use blackout curtains at home, try putting up a dark-colored sheet over the window to block out that morning sunlight. If your kids use a nightlight, bring one from home or make sure Grandma has a similar one. By making their home away home more like home, you increase the chances they will get a good night of quality sleep.
4. Be discreet.
If the room your child is sleeping in houses your aunt's antique doll collection, it might give your child some scares with a phobia of old-time dolls. Ask your aunt to consider removing the collection for a few days to make life easier on your little one.
5. Do a walk-thru.
If your kids get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, make sure you walk through their route before they go to bed so they get a feel for the floor plan. The last thing you want is a sleep child walking into a wall at 3 a.m.
6. Talk about it.
Sleeping at a family member's house can be intimidating for a child. There are strange smells, noises, and objects in the room that can make it difficult to rest peacefully. Talk to your child before you go away to make sure they know what's coming and prepare them for it. Reassure them that you are right down the hall and make sure they know how to get to you in the middle of the night.
7. Adjust your schedule.
If you are sharing a hotel room with your kids, you might have to change your routine, too. It might mean lights out at 8 p.m. and no television if it disturbs your children. The bottom line — you might have to sacrifice for the sake of a good night's sleep for the little ones.
8. Think of everything.
At home, you have control over most the environment. On the road, you have to plan ahead. If your toddler is able to open doors, is there a staircase nearby that she might not realize is there? Figure out a way to protect her. Do your best to replicate home, realize that this is only temporary, and be patient with your kids. They're adaptable and so are you.