How to manage your child's sleep over this holidays
The holiday season is a major source of stress for many parents today. I'm sure this year will be no different and will bring its own set of challenges with it. I don't know about you guys, but I am ready for 2020 to be over. How about you? Hopefully 2021 will be kind to us!
Let's unpack the things you need to know and do to set yourself and your family up for success this holiday season whether you are hosting or traveling.
Tip #1: Be realistic with your expectations going into this holiday season.
My biggest tip for anything really is to be realistic and upfront with your expectations.
Let me give you an example of some very unrealistic expectations from my own life. When my husband and I got married, we never discussed our expectations when it comes to housekeeping. My husband grew up with his mom keeping the house cleaned, and I grew up with my dad doing most of it. You can imagine how that played out, right? I remember us sitting in the living room of our first apartment looking at the disgusting dishes that had been left in the sink while we were waiting each other out on who would do them. It ended up in an argument and a few tears from me). Now if we had discussed our expectations from the beginning, we could've avoided the whole fight completely.
That example is a pretty different from sleep, but the principle remains the same. Don't set yourself up for failure. Before you leave home or before your guests arrive, sit down and talk with your partner about what your expectations are.
Do you want to let your baby sleep on the go? Do you want to make sure your baby is home or in a similar environment for naps and nighttime sleep?
I've seen to many parents, including myself even, that get trapped in the situation of letting their baby nap on the go, in the car, or somewhere that won't give baby the best sleep possible. Then they are left to pick up the pieces afterwards when baby is fussy later. If you set those goals beforehand, it will make this time much easier.
Tip #2: Talk with your family and friends on what to expect from your child.
Does your baby wake in the night and cry out? If so, be sure to communicate that with any house guests or whoever you are staying with that they should expect this during the night. It's very likely that your visitors will be fine with it, but in the case that they aren't, be sure to be upfront with them and let them know what to expect so other arrangements can be made.
Tip #3: Be confident in yourself!
No one else knows your baby like you do! We've all be there though. Everyone has an opinion on how we should be raising our children and what we should be doing, and they are all different from what we're actually doing. Be confident in the choices you have made for your baby and stick with them. Your family members aren't who has to deal with the bad habits that can be created if boundaries aren't set.
Tip #4: Try to keep your baby's sleep space as similar to home as possible.
Many times when you have house guests and no spare bedroom, guests get placed in the baby's room. This means baby must sleep somewhere else. My suggestion is to put your baby in your bedroom. If you have something like a Slumber Pod, that would be the perfect situation, but if not, don't worry! We mamas are flexible! Do what you can where you can. Being completely honest, we've put our daughter's pack-n-play in the bathroom so that we could all get some sleep. It worked out perfectly!
Make sure you at least have a way to blackout your windows so your baby stays in a dark environment. A blanket and some command strips work great for this! Be sure to bring the sound machine to drown out any outside noise.
Tip#5: Keep as much consistency in the routines as possible.
When we have house guests or are traveling, nap and bedtime routines tend to go down the drain. As a routine lover, I can personally attest to having my entire day being thrown off if my routine is off. Our babies can be the same way.
Make an effort to keep as much of your routine the same as possible. For example when our family has a busy night or is traveling, we always make sure we are home at least 30 minutes before bed to at least give our daughter a quick wipe down with a warm, wet rag, read a book, snuggle, and put her in bed. This simple routine is just enough to signal to her that it's bedtime.
Tip #6: Be flexible and understanding.
I know you're probably thinking, "You've just told me all these things about keeping the routine and staying strong!" It's okay! Don't worry!
In the end, spending time with your family like you do over the holidays is time that you won't get back. This time with your baby goes by so quickly. Don't miss out on cherishing and soaking up this time just because you are worried your baby will start to fall into a regression.
A night or two will not ruin your baby. If you decide to stay out later one night or if your baby sleeps in a different environment, it will all be okay. Your baby might even surprise you on how versatile she is!
Most babies will get back to their normal sleep in about 3-5 days. If you find that your little one if taking longer to get back into a routine, contact me so we can chat about what I can do for you.
Tip #7: Tantrums will happen! Give yourself and your child some grace.
We all know how stressful and tiring it can be to be around our entire family all at once or to have to be constantly entertaining guests. Our children feel this same stress because they are not used to this. They aren't used to having Aunt Sally and Uncle Bobby constantly there playing with them. Our kids need time in the day to decompress and unwind just like we adults do. Sometimes a snack and a nap really is the cure-all, right? I wish someone would tell me that I needed to just have a snack and take a nap!
If your child has a tantrum in front of your family, try not to panic. Just know that your child is trying to communicate with you in the best way she knows how. In this moment, your child is probably feeling so overwhelmed that she just explodes. It's totally okay, mama. You got this. Take a breath. Give some grace.
My suggestion is to try and plan some down time for your children during the day. Even if they are no longer napping, just an hour of quiet time will help them so much. This will give them time to recharge and be ready for the rest of the day. You might even be surprised to find that they take a nap!
Tip #8: Remember that this is time that you won't get back.
This time that you get to spend with family is time that you won't get back. Babies are flexible and can get back to normal pretty quickly. We recently lost my husband's grandmother, so we are realizing just how precious this time with family is. Remember that during this holiday season.
Okay we did it! We are home, and the holidays are over. Now what?
Get back to your child's normal routines as soon as possible. You might have to revert back to your original sleep training technique for a few nights in order to get your child sleeping normally again. Keep your schedule and activities really light for a few days when you get home so that you can really focus on getting back into your routine.
If you decide you need some help getting back on track, please contact me today so we can set up a free 15 minute consultation call to find a plan that will work best for your family!