By Mim Jenkinson
If you’re anything like me, even if your kids are fairly good sleepers at home, the thought of a hotel stay brings an element of fear. Will their usual sleeping habits go out the window? Will we all end up like sleep deprived zombies during our holiday bliss?
Being partial to travelling (who isn’t?) and with two kids under four, I’ve had a bit of experience in this department. And I’m here to tell you, sweet dreams can be achieved. Here are my top five tips for a night of solid slumber for the whole family.
1. Plan ahead
When choosing your accommodation, look into whether it will cater for your family’s specific needs. Do you need an extra pull out bed? Can your little kids sleep in with you? Will the hotel provide a travel cot to save you taking yours? Is linen for it provided too?
Natalie Ebrill, Registered Nurse, Child and Family Health Nurse and Baby Sleep Consultant at Sleep and Settle advises “If you’re sharing a room and the children usually sleep in their own rooms at home, consider creating a visual barrier between yourself and the kids to discourage visual stimulation and extra overnight waking.”
Another good tip Natalie adds “Try taking the linen off the cot or your toddlers’ pillow case from home with you, so the bedding smells familiar and is comforting.”
2. Assess your surroundings
Before you settle in, check around the hotel room to see that it’s baby-proofed to your kid’s needs. Put sharp objects or breakables in drawers or on shelves. You’ll sleep better knowing this is all sorted!
Then decide where your kids will sleep and let them know early on so that they can get used to their new surroundings. Clear a space for the cot or pull-out bed and have that ready so at bedtime, there aren’t delays or distractions.
3. Timing is everything
If you can, try and stick to the sleeping schedule you have at home but this will naturally relax a little when you’re away. If you’re out sightseeing for the day, think about taking your little kids’ PJ’s with you. That way you can change them on the way back to the hotel and if they fall asleep on the way back, you can transfer them into their bed without waking them.
“Parents may also like to consider using a ‘Sleep Cover’ for the stroller at sleep time to help create the sleeping environment when out of the accommodation such as the ‘Snooze Shade Plus’ or the ‘Fly Babee’,” says Natalie.
4. Set the scene
Is your child used to a completely blacked out room at home? Most hotels have blackout blinds fitted but think about taking a travel black out blind with you just in case.
Do they have a favourite book to read before bed? Or a favourite stuffed toy next to them? Sleeping bag? Take those with you too.
Music can help too. “If the little ones are having trouble settling down to sleep easily, play some relaxation music to calm them to sleep,” says Natalie.
5. Remember, you’re on holiday
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Unless you’re super strict, some days you are going to be staying up much later than usual. Just go with it and do the best you can. Hopefully the memories you create on holiday far outweigh the sleepless nights that might follow.
Time to plan that holiday?