Sleeping on the road can be difficult for kids (thus, difficult for parents). We've found the best way to get some zzzzs while traveling is to mimic your sleeping arrangement at home. Although, you can't magically transform your hotel room or your room at Grandma's into your child's usual pad, you can bring some of the same comforts on the road. With that in mind, here are a few tips to sleeping success:
- Stick to your schedule. Try to maintain your child's usual nap time/bed time, even in a new time zone. So, if your child's bedtime in Chicago is 7:30 p.m., try to put him down around 8:30 p.m. in New York. (Obviously, the greater the time difference, the harder this rule is to follow).
- Lug with you any gadgets your child usually has in his room at home. For example, we always pack our son's sound machine (he likes the rain setting) and his DVD player (to play his favorite lullaby CD). Don't think of it as packing two extra pounds. Think of it as packing two extra hours of sleep.
- Encamp your child in his new bedroom - create a quiet area for your child to sleep. Unplug telephones, and put a do not disturb sign on a hotel door (the last thing you need is room service waking your little one!) If you can afford a suite or adjoining room in a hotel, stash your child in that area, away from the adults. Darken the room by hanging a sheet over the window, or close a hotel's blackout curtains.
- Encourage sleep with routine - go through the motions like at home. For example, every night, I brush my son's teeth with his favorite purple beaver toothbrush, then put him in pajamas, then read a book, then snuggle, then place him in bed. Do the same thing on the road - don't let Grandma take over, or change the order of the routine.
- Pack your child's crib/bed sheet so that his new bed seems more familiar. Similarly, bring anything your child usually sleeps with, like a lovey (we don't dare leave home without our son's green froggie blanket), blankie, stuffed animal, or pacifier.
Keep in mind that even if you institute all of these tips, your child will likely log less hours of sleep on the road than he would at home. Try not to obsess over it. Children are resilient, and you can all catch up on sleep after you return home.