15 Dec Tips for Surviving the Holidays
With the holiday hustle and bustle, many parents who have children sleeping on a predictable sleep schedule are worried that they might regress a little over the holidays.
And I can assure you, this is a legitimate fear.
The very thought of deviating from your little one’s new routine and sleep schedule may like a huge risk to deviate too soon from what’s working so very well,
Between the travel, the excitement, the constant of family and friends, the holidays are one of the easiest ways to throw all of your hard work out with the wrapping paper and turkey bones.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! With some strategic planning and an iron will, you can keep that carefully orchestrated routine running just the way you did at home.
There are two major obstacles to 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, let’s talk travel.
If you’re thinking about starting sleep training with your little one, but you have a trip planned in the few weeks, my suggestion is to put off the training until you get back. looking (But, if for an excuse to cancel your trip, keeping to your baby’s sleep schedule is a good one. Just sayin’!)
If you’ve already started, not to worry. Taking a trip generally won’t help your little one sleep better, but if you can maintain some semblance of normalcy during your trip, you should be able to get right back into it once you return home.
If you’re driving to your destination, schedule your driving time over baby’s naps. Car naps aren’t ideal, but are better than no nap at all, and are definitely the lesser of two evils. So if at all possible, get on the road right around the time that baby would normally be taking their first nap.
If you’re really committed, you might even look for some parks, tourist attractions, or other outdoor activities that are on your route where you can stop when baby gets up. These stops are great chance to get out into the sunshine and fresh air, which will make that next nap that much easier.
If you’re flying, well, my heart goes out to you.
It’s no secret that planes and babies just aren’t a good mix, so I suggest (and this is the only time you’ll hear me say this) 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.)
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…
In the car or on the plane, everybody is on your side. Everyone wants you to keep baby quiet and relaxed, and hopefully asleep.
But now that you’re at Grandma and Grandpa’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.
I’m giving you permission to be the bad guy here. 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,” that baby’s in the middle of sleep training 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 an almost immediate backslide right back into day one. Baby misses 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.
I’m not even slightly exaggerating. It happens that quickly.
Alright you stuck to your guns and let everyone know that you’re not budging on baby’s schedule. She took her naps at the right times, and now it’s time for bed. And now you realize with all of the company staying at the house, there’s only one room for you and baby.
No problem, right? Bed sharing for a few nights isn’t the end of the world, after all.
I wish it would be that easy, but again, you want to make this as little of a deviation from the normal routine as possible, and babies can develop a real liking 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 one room into rooms.
I’m not saying you need to bust out the lumber and drywall, but I do suggest hanging a blanket, setting up a dressing screen, or, yes, I’m going to go ahead and say it, put baby in the closet.
That sounds crazy, but really, a decent sized closet 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 pacifier or rock her to sleep if she’s disturbing the rest of the house, but baby is going to latch on to that really, really quickly, and chances are you’ll be waking up every hour or two, rocking baby back to sleep or putting her pacifier back in, which is going to end up disturbing everyone a lot worse than a half hour of crying at 7:00 at night.
More often than not, I find the biggest reason that parents give in to old habits, quite simply, because they’re embarrassed. There’s a house full of eyes and they’re all focused on the new baby, and by association, the new parent.
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 baby, your family, and their health and well-being.
There may well be a few people who feel a bit jaded because you put baby to bed just when they got in the door, and your mother might tell you that putting your baby in the closet for the night is ridiculous, but remember you’re doing this for a very noble cause. Perhaps the most noble cause there is, allowing your child to get quality, sleep, essential for her well-being.
So stand tall and remember that you’re a superhero, defending sleep for those who are too small to defend it for themselves. If you want to wear a cape and give yourself a cool superhero name, you go right ahead. WonderMom, UberMama, The Somnum Inducere, if you’re feeling really fancy. Just remember that, like any superhero, you may be misunderstood by the masses.
Ignore them. You’re on a mission.
If there are no sleep basics in your home, it’s time to drop me an email, give me a call, a plea from the rooftop, anything…tell me you need sleep! And I would love to help you! I offer FREE 15-minute, no obligation sleep evaluation phone calls, simply click here to get one scheduled.
Don’t do another sleepless holiday season. Let me help you get your sleep back!