I’ve heard someone say this before and found it very true, “A “vacation” is when you and your husband go somewhere without your children. A “trip” is taking care of your children in a different location.” You may be thinking, “well gosh Taylor, thanks for being a Debbie-Downer?!”. I promise I am not trying to be, but this statement has a lot of truth to it. Yes, taking trips to see family can be a lot of fun, but there is defiantly some work involved in making it all happen smoothly. With the holidays just around the corner I know this is going to become a hot topic soon! You may have to start thinking about things such as, “whats the best way to travel with your children?”, “what will the sleeping arrangements be once we get to our destination?”, “will all of our sleep training go down the drain from one trip?”, “what all do we need to pack?”. Don’t fret! These are all questions I am going to answer today in this blog post. That way you are prepared for your upcoming holiday trips and can enjoy them to there fullest while staying on track!
#1: How will you travel to your destination?
You really only have two options as far as transportation goes: car or plane. Depending on how far your destination is usually dictates which form of transportation you should forgo. I would say if the trip is under 10 hours by car go for the car ride. If it’s 10 or more hours by car I would book a plan ticket. If a plane ticket is not an option then drive and break up the trip in 2 or more days staying at a hotel each night until you reach your destination. If you decide to go by car remember that your ETA will not be what your GPS predicts it to be! Prepare to make lots of stops for your children to get out and stretch their legs, stop and eat, change diapers, etc. The days of trying to beat your GPS ETA prediction by 30-60 mins is long gone my friend. Take your time, make it fun, be safe, don’t rush.
#2: What will be your sleeping arrangements be?
Before you make your trip be sure to know what the sleeping arrangements will be before leaving. Will you have the option of giving your child or children their own separate room for sleep or will you need to share a room with your child? If you do have the option for your child to have their own room, bring things with you that will allow you to set up the room like their nursery at home. If you follow me you know that you want their room to be completely dark, full of white noise, a cool temperature in a safe sleep space. If possible, have a family member take a picture or video of the room that your child is going to be sleeping in before you leave for your trip. If you see a window in the room, bring a blackout curtain! If there is not a ceiling fan in the room bring a fan from home that you could use during your stay.
If you do not have the option for your child to have their own room during your stay consider purchasing a Slumberpod. This is a portable pod that can be safely placed over your baby or child’s pack-n-play. It gives your child the darkness they need to get good solid sleep and also creates separation in the room that can help prevent the likely hood of your child co-sleeping. When your child sees you in their sleeping environment when you are normally not visible at home it can throw them off and usually does. The Slumberpod keeps you on track! (Use my code NESTCODE20 for $10 off at checkout.) If a Slumberpod is not an option consider a laundry room, bathroom or closet that could be used in the house as a sleeping environment. This is a safe option as long as their is a vent in the room! These are usually great spaces because they don’t normally have windows so creating the darkness that your child needs to sleep well is not hard to accomplish.
#3: How will you stay on track while away from home?
The biggest part of all of this is the sleeping arrangements. The other key parts to staying on track are keeping some routine established while away (bedtime routine is the biggest one!) and also your approach to night wakings.
Now we know that taking trips means that you are not going to be on schedule like you normally would be and that’s OKAY! This is hard for me too. I love control. But I know that living on schedule all the time is not realistic and really not that fun. Remember 80/20. 80% of the time be consistent and 20% of the time be off schedule and do something different! This is the beauty of sleep training. When you establish a healthy sleep foundation and your baby has learned how to self soothe and connect sleep cycles, going out and doing something different is not going to completely destroy everything that you have worked so hard for. It’s okay to be off schedule while away from home. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do any kind of normal routine. My rule of thumb is try to do the morning routine and the bedtime routine the same. Everything else in the middle can be different if need be. That means that if you know you have a lot of fun things planned one day during your trip, try to at least get the first nap in the crib or pack-n-play (maybe even the second if you have a little) and then also try to stick to bedtime routine as much as possible. Is it okay if bedtime routine is later than usual due to going out one night, yes. But the actual routine before bedtime I would keep the same! That’s why establishing a bedtime routine from the beginning is so nice when traveling. Even though you are in a different location your baby/child still recognizes the bedtime routine and knows that it’s time for bed.
This is a question I get a lot from my clients and followers: “what if they wake in the middle of the night while I’m away from home?” Good question! First of all if they usually sleep through the night and are waking randomly while away, I would say approach it like you would normally. You want to make sure they are okay and not sick, and if everything is okay and they are just having a night waking I would personally approach it like normal. “But what if they wake others in the house?!” It’s true. Your baby may wake others in the house if you do this. In my opinion, it’s my child and I know them best. Everyone has their own opinion on how to approach a baby waking in the night. None of them are wrong, but for me I am going to do what I know is best for my child and family. If that’s too uncomfortable for you, you can always go get your baby but just know that you may create a new habit that you will have to break once you get home. If a new habit has formed while away from home when you get home go straight back to normal with how you usually approached night wakings and you should be back on track in no time!
#4: What all do you need to pack?
If this is your first trip with your baby/child you will soon realize that they require a lot more than you originally thought. You will need to pack sleep items, food/nursing/feeding items, comfort items, clothes, medicine, hygiene products, toys, and the list goes on and on. It can get overwhelming fast! That’s why I have created a Travel Checklist that you can download off my website for FREE! It’s going to lay it all out for you in a simple format so that all you will have to do is print and check off everything on the list while packing.
Most of all. HAVE FUN! Life is short. Prepare as much as you can in advance to make things as smooth as possible and then once you arrive to your destination make sure you focus on those memories made with family. That’s what you will end up remembering anyways. Love you guys!