It’s the “travel hangover” – getting back from a trip with suitcases full of laundry, a counter full of mail, and a baby who isn’t sleeping.
Okay maybe it’s not that dramatic, but it is really common for sleep to get a little (or a lot) off track when you’re on vacation. Naps may have frequently been on the go or skipped; bedtimes may have been pushed later; or you may have wound up bed-sharing or feeding at 5:00 a.m. to buy a few extra hours.
Between the different routines + schedule plus any time-zone changes, you may find yourself dealing with a whole host of sleep issues once you’re back home.
But your great sleeper is still in there and sleep will get back on track. Here are 3 steps that will help!
If you’re reading this thinking, “I never had a great sleeper to begin with” then I’d love for you to stop reading here and download my free 4 tips to solve night wake ups guide. The next time you travel as a family, your child will be a sleep champ. Click here to grab it!
Step 1: Do your normal bedtime routine
While you were traveling, you may not have had a ton of consistency doing your child’s normal bedtime routine each night. A lot of activity often yields skipped steps or entire routines altogether.
Unless you’re getting home well after bedtime, I’d encourage you to make it a point to do every single step of your bedtime routine on your first night back at home.
We want to get that bedtime routine back on track from night one (or night two if you get home too late) because they are such an important sleep cue for your baby.
A consistent and predictable bedtime routine not only provides contextual cues of what comes next, but also prompts the brain to send wind-down signals to the body to start relaxing in preparation for sleep.
Sometimes, all your child needs to jumpstart their normal sleep is being back to routine at bedtime.
Step 2: Have a few low key days
Staying on your child’s normal sleep schedule while traveling is best-case scenario, but this is very rarely possible. Between time-zone changes and extra activities, it’s really normal if your child returns home carrying some amount of overtiredness.
Just like we as adults need to rest, recuperate, and do the mountain of laundry when we return home from a trip, your child needs the same (minus the laundry, though that would be helpful).
If possible, plan to have a few low-key days at home to prioritize great naps and on-time (if not early) bedtimes to catch up on sleep.
Step 3: Restart sleep training
This one isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds, I promise.
Especially if habits around sleep were totally different while traveling, it is possible that your child needs a reminder of what they are capable of + what the sleep expectations are at home. While you were away you may have held for naps, reintroduced an early morning feed, or wound up bed-sharing, but if those things don’t typically happen at home, don’t let them return with you.
If your child is struggling to sleep independently like they did pre-vacation, then re-sleep training is the next step.
Implementing your original sleep training plan for a second time is not going to be as dramatic as the first time around. Your child already knows how to sleep this time – they just need to be reminded. (By the way, if you didn’t have a formal sleep training plan the first time around, I have some for you!)
There’s no need to start this on night one if you don’t want to, but definitely plan to re-start on night two. The quicker you jump back into what’s “normal” at home, the less time it will take. Most of the time things are back to normal within 2-3 nights.
Helping your child get back into their sleep groove doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The three things you want to focus on are:
- Do your normal bedtime routine on night one
- Plan for a low-key day the next day (and the one after that and the one after that)
- If the previous night was tough, jump back into your previous sleep training plan to reset those sleep habits.
Remember that every child is unique, and some may take a bit longer to readjust than others, and that’s okay! If you find yourself needing more guidance and support, please reach out. I want to help make sure your vacation memories are cherished and that your sleep stays on track too.