It's the most wonderful time of the year again. The holidays are so busy, but also full of magic and nostalgia which make it so special.
For us mamas, it's magical but also exhausting. We all already know that mamas make the world go 'round, but our job really picks up during this joyful season.
School is out and daycares close, so that leaves us to do all the things aaaand keep the kids alive all day. As I'm writing this, my (truly wonderful) husband is napping while our 4 children are running around being wild, as always. That's another subject for another day though.
We all know Mrs. Claus is the real MVP.
During the holidays, some of us travel and some of us stay home. Either way, the creatures are stirring and those silent nights might be rare and/or non-existent. I pray that you have many silent nights, but know with all of the visitors, sugar, parties, travel, and more....it can be hard and seem almost impossible. So, I'm here to lend you some advice and tips to make your holiday season not feel so overwhelming.
My biggest piece of advice:
Remember the Reason for the Season. As Christians, we celebrate the miracle of pregnancy and the birth of Baby Jesus. Let's not forget Mary, who was a rockstar giving birth in a stable and being vulnerable and trusting enough to follow her calling. As mothers, we light the way for our children during this time. Family time and memories should be made and enjoyed. It's ok to let our hair down and get off schedule. We just need to know to jump back on the next day/night. Consistency is what matters most and that can still be achieved (to some degree) when traveling and/or having a house full of people.
In order to keep things consistent and somewhat conducive for some silent nights, here are some tips:
1) Make the sleep space as similar to home as possible.
Keep it Dark: If dark curtains aren't available, use blankets over windows, tape tin foil over windows (no joke), or put the pack n play/crib in a large closet. The SlumberPod is an amazing product and you can use my code: MAGNOLIAFAMILIES20 for $20 off.
Take your sound machine! That familiar sound is so helpful. The sound machine and monitor are a must. *some cars have regular outlets in them, so use the sound machine in the car if you wish. I do this! I love YogaSleep Sound Machines and they even have travel ones.
Bedtime Gear: Sleep Sack, Lovies (if used and correct age), or any other object that normally sleep with should be taken.
2) Try and keep to your normal schedule as much as possible.
Get up and start the day. It's tempting to let them sleep in while on vacation, but I suggest getting them up no later than 7/7:30am so that the rest of the day doesn't get thrown off and therefore could possibly mess with night sleep.
Watch those Sleepy cues. The first day after travel can be tough for babies and children just like it can be for us adults. Try and be aware of sleepy cues and get them down for a nap as soon after seeing cues. You may notice that you see sleepy cues earlier than you usually do, but this is normal. Your child is showing you they are tired, so let them sleep.
Adjust bedtime according to the day. If naps are missed, or baby/child is fussy, then adjust bedtime to earlier than normal. Anytime after 5pm is acceptable. Yep, you heard me. There is no shame in a 5:30pm bedtime if need be. You'll thank me later. Oh, and an early bedtime is not only helpful for your child, but gives you some grown-up time! Cheers!!
3) Be Rested Before You Go.
Before you travel, try your best to make sure you and your kids are getting plenty of sleep. Follow your normal schedule as closely as possible for at least 2 weeks before leaving. That way, if sleep is funky on the trip, your child isn't already overtired. When it comes to travel and vacation time, you won't be able to follow the schedule all of the time so, if you're rested before, some "off days/nights" won't completely deplete those "sleep tanks" while away.
4) Relax and Enjoy your trip!
Vacations are supposed to be fun. Don't worry too much if things don't stay on exact schedule and some naps don't happen. You have the tools to adjust. If the nap occurs in the car or stroller, that's ok. If grandma wants to rock them longer than normal, it's ok.
Make those memories, let tomorrow be a new day, and try again.
5) Reboot When You Get Back Home
When you get home, get back on track with routine and schedules ASAP. You might find you need to fix bad habits that got started on vacation.
More than likely you will have had later nights than normal while on vacation, so utilize an earlier bedtime to fill those sleep tanks back up! Not forever, but for at least a few nights.
If you have a toddler, it's important that you get back on track with a consistent bedtime routine and maybe some family bedtime rules. Toddlers love predictability and consistency so get back in a good groove right upon return. Remember, it will take a few days to get back in a groove, just stick with it and you'll see some success.
P.S. If you're switching time zones, here are a few tips.
If it's only one or two time zones over, you can simply keep your baby on their regular schedule, but on the new time zone.
Make sure you get tons of sunlight. If traveling East, get that early morning sunshine in to adjust things up all day. If traveling west, get lots of natural light and sunshine during late afternoon and evening to help baby push to that later bedtime. Sunshine affects our Circadian rhythms so use that sun to your advantage.
Merry Christmas from my family to you & yours!!
Wherever you may be, I wish you all the best this year for Christmas and New Year's Celebrations. Enjoy these moments; they can be so tough, but they are also passing by quickly. I'm reminding myself of this.
We know the creatures will be stirring, but my Christmas wish for you is that you have some silent nights and your heart lights shine extra bright.
With much sincerity and lots of love,