Most parents will know that once you add kids into the mix - that holidays are not quite what they used to be! Even if you all manage to pull off sleeping well in unfamiliar environments, you can often come home to find that some of those temporary fixes have now become a more permanent arrangement. Like our last family holiday where we left with an excellent sleeper but after 6 of us sharing the same room for 2 weeks, came home with a baby that now needed to be vigorously rocked to sleep and waking every couple of hours overnight. Not so much fun! So what went wrong?!
The reason sleep problems can so easily arise after holidays is in part why you went away in the first place. That is, the break from the usual day to day routine. Kids are creatures of habit and so even after a relatively short period away, they will get used to the “new” way of doing things and then don’t understand why this doesn’t continue when you get home. When it comes to solving these holiday sleep problems, there are 3 things to keep in mind:
1. Prioritise Sleep When You Get Home
Part of the fun of being on holidays is relaxing some of the rules and this often includes later bedtimes for everyone. Once you get home though, try to have a quiet few days to get everyone back into routine. If everyone is tired after travelling, and especially if they didn’t sleep well while you were away, prioritise sleep and get everyone into bed nice and early to catch up on sleep.
2. Go Back To Your Usual Routine
Again, it’s very common that when you go away there will be parts of your usual routine that you can’t or don’t do. The most common of these is to provide more help to your baby to go to sleep or to re-settle if they wake overnight. The first couple of days home can be tough as everyone readjusts but the sooner you can get back into your usual routine, the quicker everything will get back to normal.
3. Be Consistent In Your Strategy
If your baby takes a step backwards in their ability to settle to sleep independently you may have to do some sleep training in order to get them back on track. Despite what you may have read there are in fact many different ways to help babies learn to sleep on their own. Some are more gradual or you may choose to jump straight back into the way they were settling before holidays, depending on how strong the new association is or how quickly you want to change it. The key is to find a strategy that you are confident with, as you are much more likely to be consistent and follow through.
Kate has a Ph.D. in Sleep Psychophysiology from the University of Melbourne and has worked in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and their 4 small children and now runs Babysomnia where she takes a mother- and family -centric approach to getting better sleep. If you need any help with your baby’s sleep visit her website to book a one-on-one consultation and like her on Facebook