Dear Sleep Deprived Mama,
So you’ve gone on vacation, made memories, and sunk into debt…Sleep Debt that is!
The hard truth to any vacation ending is that reality comes back…and quick! You thought being back in your own home, own bath, own bed, and at your own table, would magically fix your little sleeper’s week of “being flexible.” You entered into an alternate reality! (How do I know all of this? I was just there!)
Here are three of my best strategies to get back to normal after a vacation:
Pay Off the Balance
Invisible Bricks. Sleep Debt is a real thing! Consider lost sleep as an invisible brick. Vacation tends to pile invisible bricks into that backpack of denial you carry each day until you eventually realize the full burden of missed sleep. Not sure if you’re carrying a load? Crankiness, tiredness, heavy eyes, irritability, and yes, hyperactivity are all examples of invisible bricks stacked up against you.
Lighten the load. As soon as you get home, bump bedtime earlier by 30 minutes for a few days. It’s not too early where it feels uncomfortable, but it takes the edge off and gives your sleeper the opportunity to work off the lost sleep.
Push Pause. Don’t think sleep is just for your kids. You may be tempted to wash all the laundry, reply to all the emails, and post all of those pictures. STOP. Early bedtime rules apply to you, too! Once the kiddos are out, head to bed yourself.
2. Make the Right Investment
Priceless Memories. Memories of the quality time you spent together on vacation still linger with your child. You may want to jump straight back into your normal life routine as soon as you pull in the driveway, but find ways to bring those quality vacation moments into daily life.
Time Well Spent. Put the phone away during your child’s bedtime routine. If they are a toddler, spend 10-15 minutes just playing together in their room. There’s no better way to end the day than “filling up their bucket” with intentional time together.
3. Manage Expectations
Remind. As soon as you step back into a “normal” day at home, remind your child of what the house rules are. Do you have rules around electronics? Remind them. Do you have rules around snacks? Remind them. Do you have a routine for bedtime? Remind them!
Give Them Credit. If your child is over the age of 22 months, I highly suggest role playing! Use stuffed animals or even yourself. Have the child guide them/you through the bedtime routine motions. See what they remember about getting ready for bed at home, and let them lead the way.
Expectation Cards. Need some reminding? I’ve got you covered! My Bedtime Expectations Cards are perfect for kids of all ages to remember the steps. Print them out postcard size, review them, color them, and talk about the steps before/during/after bedtime routine. Review these cards multiple times a day for a few days. Give praise along the way for doing such a great job and soon, they will be right back into the healthy habits.
Want to know more about getting your child on track?
So, Mama, now you’ve got a plan! While it might take months to clean out all the sand from the car, you’ll definitely be enjoying great rest again in just a few nights.
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant