Vacation…. Sleep friend or Foe?

23rd May 2016

Last week I had my family come over from England, so we decided we would have a week vacation down on Pensacola beach here in Florida. Beautiful house, beautiful beach, what could be wrong I hear you say?

Sleep can be an issue when you go away from home. Your child is used to a certain bed and routine, so this could make things very difficult for you. We certainly had a few nights of restless sleep and a few night’s of our 2 year old waking up.

At home, our son is used to sleeping in a nice big crib and in a dark room with a good nap and nighttime routine. On vacation he had to sleep in a pack n play, which was not an issue (the first couple of nights!). By the 2nd night of being at the beach house, we ran into our first set of problems. His bed was set up in the master closet, which was perfect as it had a ton of space for him where he would not be disturbed and neither would we. Well, he found the drawers on the 2nd night and was constantly opening and closing them no matter how many time we went in to lay him back down. So, we had to move him into the middle of the bathroom. Problem solved, right?

Then we came to his nap on day 4. Normally an excellent sleeper during the day, this was the first time he has ever gone without his daytime nap. We would go in and check on him every so often but for some reason he would not go to sleep. No big deal, we just brought forward bedtime by an hour. Night 4 was a very adventurous time for us. After I had been in bed for 5 minutes he started to scream, naturally you can tell if your child really needs you so I went to him. I found him cold, wet and naked in his bed. He had taken all of his clothes and his diaper off, and fallen asleep for 2 hours like this. Quick wipe down and change sorted that issue, but of course I was awake for a while keeping a close ear on him in case he started to undress himself again.

Night 5 – We had a huge storm. Heavy rain and wind so strong the whole house was moving. This he slept through! But, come night 6 and my husband and I were awake for 4 hours from 12.30am on, listening to a certain someone moving around in the bathroom, not settling at all. In the end I went in only to find that he had managed to get under his pack n play mattress and was stuck. After I had put him back where he should be, he had a very restless night.


It’s very hard to take a toddler on vacation for the week, but I have to say it was worth every minute. He loved the beach and playing with his cousins.

If your planning a vacation this summer, my tip to all of you is to ‘Keep your schedule’. Meaning, if you normally do bedtime at home at 7pm then keep your 7pm bedtime. The same goes for naps.

If you are going to an area where the time change comes into play, then I would suggest this – If you are moving forward by 1 hour, then just do your bedtime at 8pm, this is good for late dinners and late mornings. But, if your looking at a 3 hour time difference then you would need to get your child on that new time zone while you are away.

If you can, give them their own sleeping space. Even if this means hanging up a sheet across the room so they cannot see you if they awake during the night. This will really help with night wake ups.

Above all, PATIENCE. You have to keep in mind that no one likes to be away from their bed and normal routine. Adults even struggle with sleep while they are in a different place. I know I did on this trip!