It’s holiday time, and for many of us, that means packing up the kids and taking a vacation. Even if your kids are sleeping well and you have a great routine, a vacation can throw a wrench in the works. Most of us can make it through even the worst sleep situations while on our trip, but when you return home, you want everything to fall back into place, right?
Sometimes returning from vacation brings even more sleep challenges. Many kids revolt once they return from vacation – tantrums at bedtime, night waking, early rising, and more. Why do they torture us after we took them on such a lovely trip?
Kids crave routine and regularity. Even on a short vacation, they come to expect that whatever the sleeping situation was there will continue. So when they get home and find that they can’t share a room or a bed with the family, or that they have to go to bed earlier, they have something to say about it.
Here are 5 tips to help you transition back to your home sleeping routine:
Articulate the rules. The adults in the house need to be on the same page so everyone can enforce the rules and routine. Explain to your kids (even the little ones can understand) that vacation was a special treat, and now that you are home, you are going to return to our house rules. Write down the rules and routine to remind the older kids.
Clear your schedule. For the first several days after you return from vacation, try not to plan any activities late in the day. Keep it simple and stay close to home. Then you can make sure your evening routine is calm, unrushed, and the kids get to bed on time. Your kids may be overtired from less than ideal sleep on vacation, so consider an earlier bedtime for the first week you are home.
Reinforce the routine. Chances are that your routine while on vacation was different from your normal routine at home. When you return, remind your kids of their bedtime routine and stick to it strictly the first week or two after vacation. With younger children who still make, make sure their daytime schedule is back on track and naps are at the right times. Use positive language not just about vacation, but also about how nice it is to be home. “Isn’t it great to be back in your own bed with your animals?” Give small rewards to congratulate your children when they get it right.
Give extra attention. While not strictly linked to sleep issues, I think that kids get used to having more of our attention when we are on vacation. Once we return home, to our jobs and our daily lives, we may not be spending as much quality time with the little ones as we were while away. So kids may seek that extra time with us during the night or at bedtime. To keep from creating bad nighttime habits, try to pay a little extra attention to the kids in the daytime if possible. Or plan some special time for the weekend and discuss that with your child during the week.
Expect some setbacks. Try to manage your own expectations. As your kids adjust to life at home again, they may wake during the night or very early in the morning. If you are suffering from jet lag, assume your kids are suffering even more. While these disruptions may be frustrating, it is normal and kids take a few days to a couple of weeks get back on track.