Travelling can be tiring at the best of times, let alone when you have two children in tow. This summer I will be travelling back to the UK, performing the mass summer exodus from Qatar as temperatures rise, with the boys in tow. Boys that don’t always sleep. Add travel into the mix and it’s a bit trickier. Your input tends be required more in order to help your children sleep.
Whilst there is only a 2 hour time difference between Qatar and the UK, it is still a time difference. Coupled with a seven hour plane ride, an hour’s car journey and generally throwing them both off routine for a little bit sleeping doesn’t always go to plan when we get back to my mums house.
The good news? It doesn’t last that long before you get back into your natural rhythm and routine.
The better news? For those of you who are a little apprehensive about your upcoming journey, take a look at my tips on how to help your children sleep while travelling, and hopefully you’ll avoid a serious case of the cranks. For everybody.
Travel Around Nap Time
While it would be nice to travel first thing in the morning, arrive at your destination at a decent time and make the most of the day ahead, this isn’t always doable. Quite often you’re at the mercy of airline schedules. For us, to fly back into Birmingham we have two options first thing in the morning and the middle of the night. This year we’re trying for first thing in the morning giving both boys chance to get some sleep the night before.
If you can I would advise setting off on your journey after your child’s regular nap or sleep time.
So, if your child tends to nap in the morning, plan to leave in the afternoon when you know they will have got some much needed rest. This will make the travelling experience smoother for both you and them.
Granted, you can’t guarantee that your child won’t drift off mid-journey but, they’ll be far less grumpy when you have to wake them up if they’ve napped prior to the flight.
This is because the first nap tends to be the most restorative and helps to curb fatigue for the rest of the day.
When your child is napping, this is the optimum time for you to catch some z’s.
Pack Sleep Accessories
It’s all very well packing some extra toys in your suitcase in a desperate attempt to help your child but, when you’re away from the comforts of home, toys alone aren’t enough to make them feel at ease.
The solution? Sleep accessories.
Whatever your child needs whether it’s the soothing white noise from ewan the dream sheep® a sheet from their cot or bed, their trusty sleeping bag you’ll be grateful you ditched the additional toys. In our case for the two year old it is now Buddy the bear that needs to come everywhere with us.
If your child doesn’t have a favourite or special sleep toy don’t worry, the four year old has never been attached to anything. We’ve used a variety of the above while we are away to help; white noise is extremely soothing for babies and toddlers plus, it’s able to drown out those unfamiliar noises that remind your child they’re away from home. The familiar scent of a sheet will help your little one child transition to a new sleeping environment.
Be sure to take sleep accessories away with you on your trip to ensure that your child has no difficulty falling asleep. In turn, you’ll feel more rested as you won’t be up all night trying to console them.
Be Mindful of Time Differences
Time differences can easily throw our bodies off, therefore it’s important to allow a few days to adjust, whether you’re arriving at your destination or returning home.
There are many top tips you can follow here, some people say that moving their home routine time an hour earlier each day helps, but that’s not always practical with school and work. I’ve found that following these five tips to help you and your children settle works best for us. I’ve also found it takes your body around a day per hours difference to settle, which is going to be interesting for us as we head from Qatar to the Caribbean in December for another cruise – I told you we were cruise converts.
Recreate Bedtime Routines
By recreating bedtime routines, you can help your child achieve the sleep they need. If they’re used to being bathed and read to every night, it’s important to stick to this regime when you go on holiday. This will help them settle and adapt to the new setting.
They’ll already find it strange being in a different place therefore it’s important to be consistent to avoid tears and tantrums, which can result from delayed or irregular bedtime routines.
Hopefully these tips will help you and your child to sleep well in the lead up to, and during, your holiday.
Basically, if your child doesn’t sleep then you won’t sleep either, so it’s important to do everything that you can to ensure that wellbeing needs are met. Though sometimes you can do everything and your child still won’t sleep, two year old not sleeping anyone?!
If you’d like to discover sleep tips then look no further than Happy Beds, the UK’s fastest-growing bed and mattress store. Joy Richards, the sleep specialist at Happy Beds, can enlighten you with her helpful guides and advice.