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Vacations are usually a time to let loose and escape from the everyday routine. While this may work for parents and some kids, it doesn’t work for everyone, especially little ones. Should you stick to a baby sleep schedule and other daily routines on vacation? Yes. And these tips will help you do just that.
Before having kids I had no idea about the importance of a routine, especially the importance of maintaining a baby’s sleep schedule. Even as a teacher who preached the importance of a routine in the classroom, I didn’t understand how important it was keep to a baby schedule.
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Once I established a good routine with my first child, I still didn’t understand the importance to sticking to it on vacation. After our first vacation to Charleston ended up being stressful, I realized how important it is to keep the kids, especially babies, scheduled while on vacation.
Baby Sleep Schedule and Daily Routine
The number one reason we stick to a routine is because a tired baby is not a happy baby. They cry through meals, make a scene no matter where you go, and end up making life miserable for everyone around them.
Keeping our kids on a predictable routine, especially as babies, has allowed us to enjoy our vacations much more than if we were to fly by the seat of our pants. They know what to expect, they don’t get overtired, and they enjoy themselves, allowing us to enjoy them and the vacation even more.
Here are my tips for sticking to a baby sleep schedule and daily routine on vacation:
Get a Suite
I know, I know, I’m the Fabulously Frugal Traveling Mom and I’m telling you to spend more on a hotel room. Crazy, right?
Well, let me assure you, it’s worth it. Unless you want to put your baby in the bathroom or closet, a suite is going to be your best bet. This means you don’t have to wait for nighttime to put the baby down. The baby can have an afternoon nap in one room while you stay up in the next. We always get a suite similar to Buena Vista Suites in Orlando.
Get Takeout for at Least One Meal a Day
Unless you have the perfect baby, you won’t be excited to sit down at a restaurant for 3 meals a day. There is only so much eating out that a baby can handle.
Try eating breakfast in the hotel before you get out for the day. You could also pick up a take out dinner from a nice local establishment. Pick up a bottle of wine and treat yourself to a date night once the baby and older children go to sleep!
Try to Stick to Baby’s Bedtime Routine
You’re on vacation so this doesn’t have to be super strict. Allow them the chance to rest at normal rest times. If your kids are small enough for a stroller, try letting them sleep there.
The key word here is try. Give your kids the opportunity to rest. Don’t stress if they don’t sleep. It’s vacation after all! At least giving them the opportunity to meet their sleep needs is helpful.
Allow Yourself to Break Routine for Special Events
Let’s face it, you’re on vacation. You’re not going to stick to your routine 100% of the time. It’s OK to break away from sleep habits, but make sure it’s something really special. If you’re at Disney World consider letting them take their afternoon nap at the normal time, but allow them to stay up for the fireworks. Or let them skip the nap for a fun filled day and let them go down early for bedtime. (Read about the 8 best things to do at Disney with a baby.)
If you allow them to break from routine for the really special moments then it makes it even more special. It’s a big deal to a kid to break from routine for something really cool.
Schedule in Play Time
Babies play at home, right? They should play on vacation too. Find a park where they can crawl or toddle around. You could even head back to your hotel for a little bit to let them roll around the floor and play with familiar toys. Unless they are used to staying out and about all day at home, don’t expect them to be happy out and about all day on vacation.
I love sticking to my routine for many reasons, but here are my top two:
More Down Time for Parents
Have you ever gotten back from vacation and stated that you need a vacation from your vacation? I know I have! I’ve said this even more since having kids! Here’s a fun thing about sticking to a routine: It meets the baby’s needs as well as the parents’ — you get more down time too!
It’s tempting to let the kids stay up late with you while you experience new things, but it’s absolutely amazing to put those kids to bed early and crawl into bed yourself. Vacations can be exhausting; don’t forget to give yourself some downtime so you and the baby wake up refreshed and happy.
Make It Easy to Get Back into the Routine Once You Get Home
This is always the biggest perk for me. If you stick to the routine while you are away, it makes getting back home a complete breeze.
You don’t have to stick to a crazy strict schedule of events on vacation to keep your baby on a routine. It’s still OK to go with the flow. After all, you know your baby better than anyone else! I promise that you can make your vacation enjoyable if you keep your baby happy by giving them plenty of rest, play and food when they expect it.