Having children certainly does not mean you need to be confined to the great British summer until your little ones are 18! It is important to choose the right destination and prepare but a holiday can definitely be an enjoyable (and even relaxing) experience no matter how old your little ones are! Choosing a country which does not take too long to get to and does not have too much of a time difference can really help, especially if it is your first time abroad with your little one(s).
Preparation is key to a more relaxed journey with children! Make sure you know what the airline provides and plan for any worst case scenarios to avoid whilst in the air (a leaky nappy on your jeans will make for an uncomfortable, and aromatic, journey if nobody has spare clothes)!
On that note, don’t forget spares, of everything; clothes, spare food (including bottles), plenty of spare nappies and any of your usual necessities for the journey to avoid any uncomfortable situations! With older children make sure you have plenty of things to entertain them…plus some of their favorite snacks!
In relation to sleep, the ideal situation would be to book your flights around your little one’s routine but, realistically, that is unlikely to be possible. All sleep rules can be put on hold when you fly – let your little one, especially babies, sleep whenever they will sleep. This may not be too much of a problem during a short flight but if your flight is longer than a couple of hours you need to bear this in mind.
What can you do about the time difference?
Once you are settled in you need to think about the time difference. If you are in a European country with an hour or two difference you may want to consider keeping your children very close to UK time. This will mean there are no issues upon your return but, also, a lot of European countries are used to eating later. This can cause huge problems when your little one is used to a 7pm bedtime but the restaurants don’t open until then! If your children are over three they may be able to manage ok but if they are younger, this can be a parents’ nightmare!
Things get trickier if you fly north or south so you don’t have a time difference. Tenerife is a perfect example of a popular holiday destination but one where you may find dinner starts at 6.30pm which may then be followed by the children’s disco, so that 7pm bedtime is pushed an hour or two…probably along with your patience when your overtired little one has tantrums at dinner and at bedtime!
We were in Tenerife during the peak summer holiday season..and it was fantastic! Now I do need to admit my little ones have great sleep skills so we are a little ahead of the game but it could still provide a challenge! We booked through Tots to Travel who provide amazing, stress and worry free holidays thanks to their safety checks and the “kit” they provide! Our hotel, Villa María, puts children first, in surroundings you can’t fail to love – somewhere you would have chosen to go even pre-children! Their pool bar is open almost all day (so no tired children trying to make it through to a late dinner), there’s a mini market if you want to totally stick to your little ones routine. Their fully organised day of entertainment has the children’s disco at 5.30pm (with table service from their bar so you can sip a glass of wine or cold bear whilst your little one is entertained by the amazing Bea)! Their restaurant may not open until 7pm but this lends itself to older children anyway and the pool bar has a great children’s menu, together with an adult friendly menu too!
From the glass of Moet upon check in, noting is too much trouble. There is a play room (and all important bar) just off the main square so you really can relax! The extras are all taken care of too, a thoughtful extra mattress in the travel cot and toy doggy to cuddle meant my 20 month old didn’t find sleeping away from home too tricky at all!
Bedtime – how to help your little one settle
At bedtime if you find your little one struggles to settle in their new environment what do you do? Just what you do at home! Make sure your little one is settled then just check on them as you would at home, before long they will have settled to sleep and within a few nights, will be back to their usual sleep skills!
Ideally, especially if your baby or child is older than 8 months, try to make some sort of private space for your baby to sleep. Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your little one, so that if s/he has a wake up in the middle of the night s/he is not so excited to see you that they end up wide awake thinking it’s play time! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child is great if that’s an option for you (a two bed villa worked well for us).
If your children are sharing a room with each other the first night or two might be a bit exciting, leading to some boundary testing. Again just stay consistent and they will soon be back to sleeping soundly (at a reasonable bedtime)!
How to deal with naps on holiday
This leaves naps, do you need to ensure every nap is in the travel cot? Rest assured the odd nap on the go won’t undo all your good work or your little ones sleep skills. Just be cautious about having lots of naps on the go, the motion might be something your little one comes to rely upon so ensure they have plenty of cot naps…great for getting out of that midday sun!
The best piece of advice…
Enjoy this amazing time together and try to make memories which will last a lifetime!
If all this talk of great sleep skills really seems like a foreign concept, do get in touch! I would love to help you guide your little one towards their independent sleep skills, and not just for their holiday! Jenna@littledreamsconsulting.com