Many parents feel very stressed at this time of year as sleep schedules can completely go off track. If you have a great sleeper already, the anxiety can be quite significant because you are worried that staying up later, missing naps and not sleeping in the comfort of their own crib or bed is really going to impact the entire family. I like to share with parents the 80/20 rule at this time of year or times when families are traveling. We would love to see naps schedules being perfect and bedtimes being on time but that's just not how life happens. Give yourself some grace and aim for 80% of the time naps being in their crib/bed and 20% being in a different location. Once the visiting and traveling is over, get right back into their normal schedule so it does not become an issue with sleep. This being said, let's look at a few tips that can help you during this time of year.
Here are a few tips to help you through:
1. Try and keep your nap and bedtime schedules at their regular times as best as you can. Allowing a 30 minute extension every now and then will not throw their sleep schedule out the window but be mindful of their sleep needs and how fast asleep debt can build up.
2. Try scheduling any activities around naps to help your child stay well rested. A well-rested child is a much happier child and will be able to handle the outings and activities much better.
3. Protecting their sleep will also help everyone have a better day and night. Keep a mindful eye on your child's sleepy cues.
4. Don't be afraid to say "No". It's ok to politely decline an invitation if you feel that your family's sleep will suffer greatly from it.
5. When you do go out with the little ones and you know it is going to be past their bedtime, remember to bring their PJ's with them. Changing into their PJ's before the car ride home will help ease the transition into their own cribs/beds....especially if they fall asleep in the car!
6. Spending the night away? Safety first!!! Bring all you can to help your little one settle quickly and safely in the new environment. This may mean a few extra minutes of cuddles and bringing your own pack 'n play but it will be well worth it. Having their regular PJ's, favorite stuffy and a safe place to sleep will help them relax. If you have been using a portable sound machine bring it along to help filter out the unfamiliar sounds that may prevent them from falling asleep. You can also find some more helpful tips with travel in our Traveling With Children article on our website.
7. Last but not least....Don't forget about Mom and Dad!!! With the craziness of this world right now, many tend to forget about their own sleep needs. Put those electronics away an hour before bedtime and try to keep your regular bedtime routine so you can stay well rested. This will also help you cope with the stresses that some may feel during this time of year.
Still need help with some bumps in the road? We offer a FREE 20 minute "Discovery Call" phone call to discuss your situation. Contact Babes & Beyond to get started and for a personalized sleep plan for your family.