Summer and Sleep
How do we balance summer fun with sleep schedules for our little ones? Certified Sleep Consultant and Prana Practitioner Johanna Snyder offers her expertise.
The days are getting longer, and the temperatures are getting warmer. Summertime is just around the corner! In the summer months, we tend to want to let loose and relax our daily routines and schedules. We want to spend more time playing outside and enjoying the weather.
As much as we want to embrace the carefree summer months, throwing in the towel with your schedules can mean your child’s sleep suffers. It is important to enjoy the summer, but also stick the schedule (most of the time!). It is all about a healthy balance.
Make sure to have backyard family BBQ dinners, impromptu sprinkler running and bubble blowing nights, or s’mores over the firepit. Just try to keep these as special occasions, rather than the norm. How do you balance the fun with a good night sleep? If you know it will be a late bedtime one night, make sure to have an early bedtime the following night. If you know you are heading to the beach for the day and naps might be disrupted, try to have an early bedtime that night to help prevent an overtired child. If one nap is in the stroller, aim or the second nap to be a motionless one! It is all about enjoying your summer, but respecting your child’s sleep needs.
Summertime also might mean a time for a much-needed family vacation — time to head to the beach, go to an amusement park, or visit a new city. Sandy beaches, blue skies, clear water, fun rides, ice-cream cones, sightseeing, and sleepy, cranky children. Wait! One of those things does not belong. Traveling with your children can be wonderful, but when they do not get enough sleep, it can make a week at the beach more exhausting than fun.
I know it seems like a challenge, but there are ways to ensure everyone gets sleep, so you can all enjoy your time away. Here are my five tips to keep your travels fun and your little ones rested!
1. Stick to your routine. Try to honor your child’s typical nap and bedtimes. Every day/night won’t be perfect, but if your child sleeps at the appropriate time most days, she will get the most restorative sleep. Recreate the same home pre-nap and pre-bedtime routines to make things familiar and comfortable for your child.
2. Create a similar environment. Bring your white noise machine, sleep sacks, lovies, or even a favorite blanket from home. For older children, bring the toddler clock and a copy of their sleep rules. The same rules apply while you are away! This helps make a new environment feel more like home. Do not forget to pack some favorite bedtime books!
3. Keep the room dark. Light has an enormous impact on sleep. When the early morning sun creeps through the shades or it is not quite dark enough at bedtime, children will have trouble sleeping. There are lots of quick and easy solutions to darken a room. You can hang towels or garbage bags on the windows. I always bring painter’s tape with me so I can hang things without ruining the walls. You can also purchase affordable room darkening shades online. I happen to love the Redi accordion shades.
4. Be flexible. If you are sharing a room with your child, you might need to be flexible with the space. You can try to place a pack n’ play or portable crib in a quiet area or behind an open closet door (away from a window). Remind early risers to rest in bed so they do not wake everyone else. While motionless sleep is the best, if a nap has to be in a stroller nap one day, it is better than no nap at all!
5. Have fun. Everyone might sleep a little less while you are away, but you can still enjoy and explore. Try not to pack your days, allowing some time for resting and remember to smile, laugh and enjoy your time away!
Lastly, when you get back home return to your regular routines right away. This will help your child get back on track with sleep!
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