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  • Annika Brindley

Holiday Family Visit and Sleep



Most children do not get their room whenever you travel or visit family, especially if you have a big family with Aunts and Uncles and little cousins of different ages also needing a place to sleep! If you get lucky, you may score a separate bedroom at Grandma's house while visiting your family over the holidays; but you may not.

Children can share a room when they travel away from home, and it can be a very positive experience for siblings. A shared room on vacation works best when you already have two great sleepers. The change is temporary and not precisely how you do sleep at home, but good sleepers have what I call "Sleep Resiliency" and can easily sleep in different environments and situations.


However, if you have two challenged sleepers, that is a sticky and tricky situation. If you are jumping through hoops to get your children to sleep at home, even in separate rooms, getting them to sleep away from home together is that much harder.

One way to handle this situation is to put your younger child to sleep first and then tuck your older child in a bit later. Staggering bedtimes will not fix your child's sleep problem nor eliminate the possible sleep crutches you have, like lying with your child until they fall asleep, but it can ease siblings' antics of them wanting to play or jump from bed to bed during bedtime routine!


It is a good idea to avoid convincing your child that sharing the room with his baby sister on the trip will be great. Why? Because he may not think it's so great, and he needs space for his genuine feelings. Besides, nobody likes to be convinced of anything, especially a toddler. Convincing is very different than being excited. You can be excited and positive, but you have lost your parental footing if you find yourself running in circles doing a whole bunch of convincing.


If you attempt to put your baby in the same room as your toddler at Grandma's house, but your baby typically wakes up at 4:00 AM, and your toddler sleeps until 7:00 AM, it will also be sticky and tricky. You may need to keep your baby in your room and create a makeshift partition. I like to grab a couple of chairs and drape a sheet over the chairs but away from your child's travel crib for safety. This "wall" can create a bit of a barrier and a little room for your baby in your room. Remember to bring your noise machine too!


Your toddler will feel positive and safe if the room share is a parental decision and not theirs. A clear and grounded decision is beneficial for both parties. If your toddler has too much say in the sleeping arrangements, he may change his mind last minute, and the last-minute shift can be derailing. Be very clear with your children about where they are sleeping, how it will be, and what is expected of them.


Siblings of different ages sharing a room can be an excellent choice for your whole family, and it can be a new and fun experience on vacation. Just make sure you take an honest look at your situation, don't merge them to "Fix" a current sleep issue at home as that won't work.


Plan before you forge ahead on your journey. Talk to your parents and your siblings about your current sleep situation. Ask your brothers and sister what their children's needs are as well. It is a great time to get honest and ask what you need to make the visit the best it can be.