Summer is finally here! I don't know about you, but I waited for this summer for literally more than a year. Last year I was pregnant and had my baby in June; I was going through postpartum and didn't enjoy being out that much. I was so ready!
Ok, back to what you really want to know about, sleep! During summer break, a lot can happen than can interfere with your baby's or kids' sleep. First of all, days are longer, you have more activities, and most of these activities take place outside, so obviously, kids are more tired. Also, it's vacation time! (yay!) Even though it's just for a weekend or a few days, sometimes this change in our baby's schedule can have an impact for longer than that.
Days are longer, we have more hours of sunlight, no school, and almost every activity takes place outside. Being exposed to sunlight, running, swimming, and all that makes our kids more tired.
Some tips you can deal with overtiredness:
If your kid is not taking naps anymore, it's ok to let her take one every few days. A 30-minute nap can be more than enough.
Do quiet time. Try to squeeze some relaxing activities during the day; I like to do it after lunch when my one-year-old baby is napping, that way I get some quality and quiet time with my five-year-old daughter Renata.
Be aware of sleepy cues because if they are having fun, they won't tell you they are tired or even yawn (for a younger baby). It's our job to anticipate their needs and get some rest for them before they get all cranky and then harder for them to nap or relax.
Keep an age-appropriate schedule. One of the reasons your baby might be overtired is because he is not getting enough sleep, have in mind his sleep needs and try to do all the needed naps and appropriate bedtime even when traveling.
Changing their schedule on vacation
If we are traveling, we try to make the most out of every day. You don't get a trip to the beach every day, right? The thing is that if we are not conscious of our baby's and kid's needs, the result can be a very cranky baby and a not-so-peaceful evening.
Yes, you can have a late bedtime every other day, but most babies and little kids are very sensitive to this, and after 2 or 3 days they might be fussy and it is hard for them (and for us) to enjoy anything.
Here are some tips:
Keep an 80/20 mindset; be on schedule 80% of the time and be flexible 20% of the time. For example, if you are skipping a nap, try to have an early bedtime.
If you are traveling to a different time zone and want to change your baby's schedule, start working a few days before the trip in 15 minutes increments. As soon as you arrive at your destination, make the switch and make sure he is getting enough sunlight during the day and complete darkness for naps and nighttime (this applies if you travel to a +/- 3 hours difference).
If you are traveling to a place with a different time zone (let's say Europe), you need to be patient; it takes one to two days for our bodies to regulate the night and day cycle.
Be patient and flexible. Some days the schedule will work and some won't; try to enjoy and have patience with them.
No matter how crazy your day was, try to do at least a resumed version of your routine. The crazier the day, the more your baby probably will need it.
I always read to my 5-year-old before bed, so I always take at least one book when on vacation. We can miss any other element of the routine, but not the book, she might even fall asleep before finishing if too tired, but reading puts her in the right soothing mood to sleep.
With my one-year-old it's easier (at least for now), he is not that used to the reading part, so just a quick bath, bottle, wash teeth, sleep sack, and crib.
A quiet and soothing sleep environment is essential for good quality sleep, no matter where you are. I'm sure there are kids that fall asleep anywhere and don't care about light or noise (not my case).
With a little effort you can keep a nice environment, here are some tips:
Use blackouts, there is a portable version you can take with you anywhere. Remember that sleeping without any light helps melatonin production. Some hotels already have blackouts installed, I always ask first.
If you are able to do it, book a room big enough to have at least one separation between where the bed is and the rest of the room; this way you can put the baby to sleep in a room and still enjoy the day. I know it might be more expensive, but sometimes it is worth it, especially if you have kids with an early bedtime.
Consider the noise. Older kids might be outside playing while you are trying to put your kids to bed. Use a sound machine to block these noises. And if you are traveling, you can use a portable white noise machine because there is going to be noise at 7:00 pm.
I hope you find this information useful, especially if you are traveling soon!