I am one of those mamas who bring their kids everywhere. No judgment if you are not; I get it! Traveling with children is not, I repeat, NOT a vacation.
Unless of course, you consider wrestling hyenas (with an audience) a vacation. Especially the bedtime routine when traveling. Yikes. That being said, there are tons of benefits of traveling with children, which is why I do it!
First, although my children won’t remember all of the places that we have been, I truly believe that traveling changes the wiring of a child’s brain. They might not have a vivid memory of the trip, but I believe their view of the world changes.
Second, I love to share my passions with my kids! I have a serious case of wanderlust, and I adore the looks on my children’s faces when they see or go somewhere new.
Finally, I have found that my children are more flexible and better-behaved when I take them everywhere. Errands or vacations, exposure to new situations has built our kids’ patience.
For our family, one of the hardest things about traveling with children is sleeping! Five people in one bedroom or hotel room does not make for a peaceful night’s sleep. Overtired kids out of their bedtime routine when traveling are shockingly unreasonable the next day.
Here are four tips to keep your kid’s bedtime routine when traveling. These tips have helped us want to continue to travel together!
1. Pack all bedtime “props” that you have at home
For us, this is a whole range of “must-haves”. Our oldest unwinds by reading before she falls asleep. She needs to have a book.
Our youngest two children sleep with a noisemaker at home; that gets packed in the suitcase, too. Also in the suitcase: various stuffed animal friends and blankets. On car trips, we literally pack our own pillows.
Although packing space is a hot commodity, we have learned that bedtime props are a valuable use of the limited room in our suitcases. The more bedtime feels like home, the better our kid's sleep.
2. Keep your bedtime routine when traveling as close to normal as possible.
A strict bedtime routine is not always possible, and that’s okay! But if your children are accustomed to having a bath, reading a book, then crawling into bed, keep that routine consistent wherever you are!
The consistency of the routine will alert their little bodies that it’s time to sleep.
3. Spread out!
If you are not a “spread out” family, feel free to disregard. But our family has three children with fairly significant age gaps between them.
If any of us has a prayer of getting any sleep while traveling, we need to spread out. For our infant, I have been known to put our pack and play in large closets just for extra quiet.
A portable toddler cot, like the MyCot, is fantastic for our preschooler. We put his own pillows and blankets on there, and he is right at home.
Portable toddler beds also come in handy if you have a child who comes into your room at night. Keep it next to the bed, so said child does not feel alone, and you are not sleeping with a terrified starfish. Ahem.
To spread out, options could include booking a hotel suite, or rearranging the furniture in your room. Be creative!
4. Lower your expectations on sleep (just a little).
Your children will sleep less on vacations than they would at home. That’s okay. Squeeze in naps when you can, grab a venti coffee, and make memories with your kids.
You will go home someday, and your kids will eventually return to normal. It’s worth it. I promise.
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About the Author:
Stacy grew up in Minnesota but spent the next several years of her life traversing the globe, temporarily setting down roots anywhere and everywhere. Stacy is extremely passionate about the world of adoption and foster care, having spent a year in Uganda adopting her oldest daughter in 2008. Stacy married her husband Jesse in 2011, and they moved to Oklahoma City to grow their family. They currently have three children; a 12-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy, and a 1-year-old boy. Though she will be parenting for the rest of her natural days, she deeply appreciates the age differences between her kids. Stacy obtained a Master’s degree in child psychology in 2007, but currently uses it only on her own children! A stay-at-home mama since Baby #3 was born, Stacy has stayed busy keeping her children alive and relatively entertained. She loves her little crazy crew fiercely and uses writing as her creative outlet. When she’s not chasing her kiddos, Stacy is likely traveling or daydreaming about traveling. She also enjoys coffee shops, copious amounts of “cop drama” shows, and perusing Pinterest for ideas that have little chance of ever getting done. But they’re good to have. Just in case.