With the holidays literally around the corner, are you worried that your child’s sleeping might regress or get worse over the festive period?
To be fair you are probably right to be a bit worried. There is so much going on!
Between the travel, the excitement, the constant attention from relatives and friends and then all of that travel again, the holidays are the single easiest way to throw all of your hard work out with the wrapping paper.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you can have a think and perhaps put in a bit of strategic planning and a bit of willpower, you can keep that carefully orchestrated routine(!) running just the way you did at home.
There are two major potential problems that might affect your little one’s sleep over the holidays. One is travel and the other is family and friends, so I just want to tackle both of those topics individually.
First off, travel.
If you’re thinking about trying to fix any sleep problems, but you’ve got to take a trip, my suggestion is to put off the training until you get back.
If you’ve already started, not to worry. Taking a trip typically won’t help your little one sleep better, but if you can maintain some semblance of normality until the end of your trip, you and baby should be ready to get back to business as soon as you get home.
If you’re driving to your destination, a clever trick is to schedule your driving time over baby’s naps. Car naps aren’t ideal, but compared to no naps at all, they’re the lesser of two evils by a mile. So if at all possible, set off right around the time that your child would normally be sleeping.
If it’s a long journey try and schedule a bit of a break so your little one can get a bit of fresh air and exercise to make the rest of the day and journey a bit easier on everyone!
If you’re flying, well that might be a little bit more tricky!
It’s no secret that planes and babies just don’t seem to like each other, so I suggest that you do whatever gets you through the flight with a minimum amount of fuss. Hand out snacks, let them play with your phone, and otherwise let them do anything they want to do.
The truth is, if they don’t want to sleep on the plane, they’re just not going to, so don’t try to force it. It will just result in a lot of frustration for both of you. (And, most likely, the passengers around you.)
You might want to have a chat with the air hostess to see if they can perhaps help or at least smile sympathetically at you when you are pacing the isles! They are generally really friendly and happy to help.
Alright! So you’ve arrived, and hopefully you’ve managed to maintain some degree of sanity. Now, I’m sorry to say, comes the hard part.
Because in the car or on the plane, everybody is on your side, right? Keeping baby quiet and relaxed, and hopefully asleep, is just what everyone is hoping for.
But now that you’re at Grandma and Grandad’s place, it’s just the opposite. Everyone wants baby awake so they can see them, play with them, take a thousand pictures, and get them ridiculously overstimulated. And it’s exceptionally difficult to tell all of these friends and family members that you’re putting an end to the fun because baby needs to get to sleep.
So if you need permission to be the bad guy, I’m giving it to you right here and now. Don’t negotiate, don’t make exceptions, and don’t feel bad about it. Firmly explain to anyone who’s giving you the “I’ll just sneak in a take a quick peek,” routine that baby’s sleeping soundly and you’re not taking any chances of them waking up. Let them know when baby will be getting up and tell them to hang around, come back, or catch you the next time. Or better yet, tell people in advance when to expect some baby time based on baby’s schedule.
I know it sounds harsh, but the alternative is the potential of a regression right back bad sleep. They miss a nap, gets all fired up because of all the new faces and activity, then overtiredness kicks in, cortisol production goes up, and the next nap is ruined, which results in more overtiredness which derails nighttime sleep, and before you know it, you’re headed home and it seems like baby did nothing but cry the entire trip.
It really can happen that quickly so try and find a middle ground to keep everyone happy!
So OK, you’ve decided to let everyone know that you’re are really keen on keeping your childs routine fairly normal. She took her naps at the right times, and now it’s time for bed. The only catch is that, with all of the company staying at the house, there’s only one room for you and your child.
No problem, right? Bed sharing for a few nights isn’t the end of the world, after all. (or is it?)
I wish I could make it that easy for you, but again, you want to make this as little of a deviation from the normal routine as possible, and babies can develop a real affinity for co-sleeping in as little as one night.
So this may sound a little unorthodox, but if you’re sharing a room, what I suggest is simple.
Make it into two rooms. If you can try and create a partition of sorts by hanging a sheet from the celling or perhaps putting your child in the bathroom. I know it sounds a bit mad but really, a decent sized bathroom is a great place for baby to sleep. It’s dark, it’s quiet, she won’t be distracted by being able to see you, and people accidentally walking in and out of the room are much less likely to distract her.
And while we’re on the subject of “no exceptions,” that rule extends to all other sleep props. You might be tempted to slip baby a dummy or rock her to sleep if she’s disturbing the rest of the house, but your child might well latch on to that really, really quickly, and chances are you’ll be waking up every hour or two, rocking them back to sleep or putting her dummy back in, which is going to end up disturbing everyone a lot worse than a half hour of crying at 7:00 at night.
Now, on a serious note, I find the biggest reason that parents give in on these points is, quite simply, because they’re embarrassed. There’s a house full of eyes and they’re all focused on your child, and by association, you as parents.
The feeling that everyone is making judgments about how you’re parenting is nearly overwhelming in these family gatherings, but in those moments, remember what’s really important here.
Your child, your family, and their health and well-being.
There may well be a few people who feel a bit jaded because you put your child to bed just when they got in the door, and your mother might tell you that putting your child in the bathroom for the night is ridiculous, but remember you’re doing this for a very noble cause. Perhaps the most noble cause there is.
A good nights SLEEP!!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and all of your families! xx
How do you feel about the dummy? Are you worried it might be causing your sleep issues? If so have a watch of my video