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Sleep is for the weak – the challenge of holidays, children and bedtime



Our trip to Cornwall was utterly wonderful, but H and I came home absolutely shattered (perfect timing with Blogtacular that weekend then!).  We all loved playing on the beach, and in the hotel pool, and running around on the headland in the sunshine, and I’ve been wanting to go to Eden for so long it was amazing to finally get there, and to find it was everything I’d hoped it was fantastic, but by the end of the trip I think we were both largely being fuelled by fudge, and I know I had a snooze on the long trek back up the M5 and I rather suspect that when it was my turn to drive, so did H.

The reason for the exhaustion, beyond the sea and sunshine, was sleep.  Or rather a lack thereof.


I never thought that we were particularly bound by a schedule; we’ve always tried to tune into the children’s natural rhythms and use that to loosely plan our days but I suspect that the side effect of three children is that you almost unwittingly end up with a very distinct routine.  And when it comes to bedtime that goes supper, bath, story, milk for those still nursing and then night night.

We tried to stick to it as best we could but with the girls having naps in the car as we drove some decent distances around the west country and then being so excited by Grandpa and swimming pools and hotels and interconnecting rooms and all the rest of it, they either really struggled to calm down for bedtime or were just so overtired that they got a second wind.  And little master Pip Squeak rather fed off that energy.


It’s not terribly easy to persuade a baby into being sleepy when he’ll nurse for a few seconds and then pop off to have a nice little look around, and then some more milk, and then another look, and you can see how it goes.  In the end on one night I took him out for a walk wrapped up in the sling and he was asleep before we reached the top of the hill and on the other his exhausted sisters had already been put to bed by H before the rest of us came up from supper so it was a little easier.


But with Pip we also had the challenge of the travel cot.  At first I thought his hatred was directed specifically at our travel cot, it’s a nice innocuous green with pictures of apples on it but perhaps Pip doesn’t like green or apples; but then he showed similar distain for the hotel travel cot and we knew it was the genre he objected to.  If we were lucky we’d get him asleep and lying in the cot, but it never lasted very long and the usual reaction to my trying to lower him down was a howl of dismay from a boy I could have sworn was utterly and completely fast asleep.

I think I may have worked that one out though, I think our boy just likes his home comforts and isn’t terribly impressed by a travel cot mattress after his nice comfy spacious cot at home.  This theory is largely promulgated by the occasion one night when he was roaring indignantly as I went to pick him up.  I lifted him out, the wailing stopped instantly, and when I laid him down on my bed, just while I got us sorted, he produced a beatific smile, closed his eyes and promptly went back to sleep without another word.


Suffice to say there were some long nights, for us and probably for anyone staying in any of the rooms near us.  But I feel that there’s something we’re not doing that we could do to help.  That or I’m just desperately hoping it’s not a phase I just have to go through.

So as we love to travel, and are planning all sorts of adventures for the summer, I need your help, all you experienced travelling Mamas, and more specifically your top tips for encouraging little ones to go to sleep in the summer.  I’m contemplating getting some travel blackout blinds, we try to keep to the routine as much as possible, but I’m going to stop short of getting Pip a travel double bed with memory foam mattress – what am I missing?

Thanks to Mattressman for the prompt for this post. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page