As parents, we know that getting kids to go to sleep on any given day can be difficult. Now, throw in being at a hotel or a tent trailer and you have a whole new set of challenges on your hands! The excitement of the day is still coursing through their minds and bodies. Settling down for sleep is the last thing on their minds!
At home we have a bedtime routine. At 7pm, it’s time to start tubby night if it’s Wednesday or Sunday. Then it’s pajamas, a quick snack, brush teeth, a book or other relaxing activity and then we snuggle until they fall asleep.
We try to keep the routine as close to possible while traveling, but it usually ends up something like this. Tub time? The hotel bathroom may be a shower only or the kids don’t want to take a bath in a different tub. Or perhaps, we’re camping and then the tub is non-existent. Move on to snack time and now instead of a semi-healthy snack like we have at home, my kids are eating whatever we have on hand, be it crackers, chips or other non-desirable snack. Okay, well at least we can do the pajamas and the teeth brushing. On-time lights out while traveling? Ha – what’s that?! Lights out! Oh! It’s dark and there are shadows the wall that they have never seen before. Or there are the sounds of people at a nearby campfire or if in a hotel, sounds of people walking up and down the hallway.
It’s looking like these kids may never get to sleep!
Don’t give up to letting them fall asleep in front of the television just yet. Because we’ve all been there! This post assumes that you know keeping a similar bed time routine is necessary as well as keeping the room the dark, quiet and of course, don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite sleep friend whether a blanket, lovey or stuffed animal.
Here are some ideas that have worked for us!
Rub Lotion on their Feet
If you can’t do the bath thing to help them get ready for sleep, then rubbing a small amount of lotion on their feet (or hands if you have an older child) may help. I know it may sound silly, but try squeezing a small amount of lotion into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together and then rub your hands up and down the length of their feet. Don’t forget to rub gently and between their toes. It may feel cold to them at first or they may give you a few giggles but definitely worth it for the smiles and into a relaxing state for sleep.
Create and Share a Made Up Story
Shut the lights off, snuggle up and start the story. Our stories always have our boys as the knights or heroes of the story and they are usually saving a parent or a friend. This type of story may not get them sleeping but it will get the thoughts of the day a little further from the front of their minds so they can get ready for sleep. The story can be as long or as short as you want it to be and you can even start talking in a much slower and lower voice so they do start to fall asleep.
Deep Slow Breaths
I’ll warn you, that if you do this with your child, you may also start following asleep. So, if you were looking forward to some quiet time with the kids asleep, don’t say I didn’t forewarn you. Walk them through taking a deep breathe in and then slowly exhale. You may even want to tell them to put a hand on their belly so they can feel their belly fill up with air when breathing in and then go down when exhaling. Another idea is to have them clench their toes tightly and then release them. Then tighten their legs and release them. Continue with their hands, close them into tight fists and then open them. Again, this one works for me so be ready for sleep when you try it!
A night-light is helpful for most kids at night. But, this is no ordinary night-light! Turn the lights off and turn on your Constellation Night Light made by Cloud b. The room will fill up with a starry night sky projected up onto the walls and ceiling of the room. The instructions contain real star locations to find, however, we usually would stare at it and/or make up a quick game of ‘what can you see?’ in the lit up constellation.
Another awesome feature of the Constellation NIght Light by Cloud b, is that has a 45 minute timer for automatic shut off. This unique night-light can found on Amazon.com. I’ve included a direct affiliate* link here. We love the turtle and ladybug. Whichever animal you pick, the constellations are the same.
Make Brownies or Pancakes
Not real brownies or pancakes! I will pretend I’m making brownies on their back by first having a child lay on their belly. Both my boys love this so much, they ask for it often when we are away from home and can’t sleep. The feel of mom’s hands on their back and smoothing voice helps to get them relaxed for sleep. I usually pretend I’m dropping eggs on their back, by plopping my hand down on them. I then ‘mix the batter’ by stirring my fingers around on their back. Next it’s time to ‘cook’ by rubbing their backs or flipping my hand back and forth for pancakes flipping. Use your imagination while walking through the steps of making brownies or pancakes.
Getting kids to sleep while on vacation is possible!
Don’t let over exhausted kids ruin your daily travel plans. Try one or a couple of these ideas to get your little ones ready for sleep. With a little patience and creativity, your children will be asleep and you can all get ready for the next day of adventures.