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Want to know what it’s like for a sleep consultant to travel solo with her two young children? Well, today’s episode is a recap of my short trip to visit my sister-in-law with my 5-year-old and 2-year-old sons while Daddy was out of town.
You don’t want to miss:
How we set up their sleep space while giving them some control
How we handled the unfamiliar situation of the boys sharing a room
How I handled bedtime fears from a storm [HINT: not the same way I’d handle it at home!]
PLUS, how I’m crazy and forgot that I have an allergy that sent us home early!
Links and resources:
Episode 8: All About the SlumberPod
Free download: Travel Checklist
My favorite Toddler Clock: The Hatch
Follow me on Instagram: @goodnightfamilies
For more about me, what I do, what I offer, and more free resources check out my website.
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Hey there, this is Michele Dispirito with Good Night Families and you're listening to the Sleep and Sanity podcast, where I help you with your little one sleep and hopefully help you find your sanity along the way. Today I'm going to be doing something a little bit differently. I am going to be sharing about my solo trip with my two boys this past week over to visit my sister-in-law. So my husband was out of town and instead of staying home with the two boys I decided that we take a little mini road trip out to Charlotte. It's about three hours or so from our house here and so, just wanted to share my experience taking a little road trip with my five-year-old and my two-and-a-half-year-old. Stay tuned…
Today's episode is brought to buy the SlumberPod. The SlumberPod is a breathable bottomless privacy pod that fits perfectly over a play yard, Travel Crib, or toddler cot to create privacy and a pitch-black sleep environment conducive to great sleep. To grab yours today go to SlumberPod.com and use code GOODNIGHTFAMILIES20 to get $20 off.
So going on a vacation is not really a vacation when you have little kids. I've heard it's called more of a trip than it is a vacation. But I still did have a very good time with my two boys especially because we went to go visit my dear sister-in-law out in Monroe. She has two little ones - two girls, three, almost four, and then a one-year-old and then I have two boys who are five and two and a half. So it was fun being able to hang out with her and then hang out with her little girls and watch the cousins play and it is just hilarious the dynamic. The differences between boys and girls. Her one-year-old is very observant, obviously at that age, but her three-year-old is very much more cautious than my boys. My boys are more "let's just do the thing and see what happens" and she's more like "let me see what happens and see if I want to do it." So it was really funny and a good time.
So to get into what I want to share with you today, we're going to be talking mostly about traveling in the car with the two boys solo and how I handled that and then how we handled sleep, of course, while we were away. So my sister-in-law obviously knows me very well and knows how I am when it comes to sleep. So she was very kind and prepared the playroom for the boys to share that room. She put tinfoil and tape on the big window because it's the room above the garage so there's just this one huge window on the one end. So she used tin foil, probably a whole box to cover that window, and then had some blackout curtains. My youngest actually slept in the SlumberPod, so that wasn't necessary for him per se, but my five-year-old does not sleep in SlumberPod anymore. He has a cot that we use for him. He actually loves the cot. There have been times that he has just slept in his cot at home instead of in his bed, but whatever. As long as he's sleeping. I don't really mind what he's sleeping on. So he had his cot we brought both of them their favorite things. So my oldest had his pillow his blankets and then he has a doll that he sleeps with. We named her Rosy. This is the doll that we got him before my youngest was born to kind of help him be around the baby but not really you know, it would just help them transition a little bit and he has very much attached to it. So he had that as his comfort item. And so then my youngest, we brought his sleepsack we brought his favorite stuffed animal because like I said he's two and a half so even though he's still in a crib/pack and play. He has a stuffed animal that he loves. That we brought and his sleepsack. So we brought the cot, the SlumberPod, the pack and play, a fitted sheet for the pack and play, a fitted sheet for the cot, and like I said his pillow and blankets and those favorite items. We also brought the Hatch. I brought an additional sound machine. It's a small one that doesn't get very loud but I put that one underneath the pack and play. As I said, it was very low. It wasn't loud. It was just another way to protect my youngest's sleep space because he was sharing a room with my oldest, so just to help him not hear all the things. I put that under his pack and play. Let's see, I brought the monitor. I set that up. There is a spot in the SlumberPod to be able to put the monitor in but because my boys were sharing a room, I also wanted to be able to see my oldest because he wakes and stuff I wanted to see kind of what was going on so I will put it near the pack and play so I could still hear my youngest but still and then be able to see and hear my oldest. So we did that. And yeah, that's pretty much… we did bring box fans, which were not necessary, but we have a truck and so I'm like whatever they fit so I throw them in the back. But that's something that we sleep with. That's more of our sound machines than even the Hatch. The Hatch we use mostly for the light to know when the boys need to be in bed and when they can get up and that sort of thing.
My oldest did his quiet time the one day we were there. He actually loves his quiet time which I'm grateful for. We all love a little bit of alone time. Some people just don't realize they need it. So that's what we brought when it comes to sleep stuff.
So to get into the nitty-gritty of how our actual sleep went. So we left on Tuesday of last week. On the way we dropped off our dog at a kennel, we called it her little vacation that she got to go spend some time with her friends at the doggie spa. So she was there we headed on out and the boys did really well for the most part. Most kids do not like being in the car for that long, but they did great on the way there we just listened to some audiobooks. We listened to some kids' podcasts, we listened to some music. We talked and ate a ton. I'm already a little worried about the teenage years. But they ate and so we got there, probably around 11 or so.
When we pulled in we were able to have lunch and we got there and enough time for my youngest to take his nap. He's at the age where if he misses a nap, it's not going to completely wreck that night or even the next day. And so since we had just gotten there and my niece definitely needed to go down for her nap, it would have just made the day very full of naps because by the time she got up from her nap would have been the time that my youngest would have gone down for his nap. So we didn't really want to be tied to the house and so we made the executive decision to allow my youngest to skip his nap for that day. And then we went to the pool so that for sure wore everybody out. Especially my youngest because he did not nap before we went.
And we went after we did that we came home and we did dinner. And immediately after dinner, we started the bedtime routine. My oldest did not have to go to bed that early because he already doesn't nap and even though he missed his quiet time, he was fine to not go to bed super early, but my youngest for sure needed to so we did a quick bedtime routine. I had already had all of his stuff set up that was one thing that I did do not long after we got there was prepared their sleep space. I talked to my oldest about where he wanted to sleep. Where did he want his cot? They have a nice couch up in their playroom so that was an option for him to sleep on and he decided he still wanted to sleep on his cot. So we arranged the room the way that he was happy with because that was something that like my solid line was for that night was that he needed to stay in his cot in that room, wherever he wanted to put the cot. I didn't really care so long as it was in that room. So we chose a good spot with good positioning for both the cot and the pack-and-play and SlumberPod and got everything set up so that when we got back from the pool and after we had dinner, all we had to do was just get ready for bed and go to bed and so like I said my oldest didn't need to go to bed at that time. But he said he was really tired and he really wanted to go to sleep and so I didn't really want to argue with him. So we got him ready for bed and put him to bed around the same time that we did for my youngest and I told my oldest because typically at home if he needs something after he's gone to bed he just calls for us because we do still have a monitor in his room because we also sleep with a sound machine so I wouldn't be able to hear him at night if he's calling out for me. So anyway, that's typically what he does. But what I told him when we were there since he was sharing the room is that he needed to come and get me if he needed anything. So I knew that that was just setting me up a few visits from him before he finally fell asleep but that's okay we're on vacation. Things are gonna be different and that's rather him do that than holler for me and wake up my younger one because my younger is a great sleeper but even at home he cries for a few minutes before he falls asleep. And when I say a few minutes, I mean like one to two minutes. Part of it, I think is his age. He is really just testing that boundary. So when we're on vacation in a different space, he still tests that boundary again and I think especially because we're in a new space, but anyway, once he settles, I for sure don't want him disturbed by his big brother hollering for me. So sure enough, my oldest comes out. There were at least two times probably three. And the first time I knew what it was for like before he even came out of the room. We let him sleep with some water next to his bed and I hadn't gotten that before we went up to the room. So I was getting that prepared as he was coming out of the room. So I was like, “Oh, I know you're gonna need this here you go.” I got him back into the room tucked him in said I love you. And it was then that he's like, “You know, I actually want to go out there.” And so I told him that his cousins were getting ready for bed too at this point and there's not much he can do. So suggested he lay there and try and get some sleep because he said he was tired. So I went ahead and left again and then he came out and got me for who knows what I don't even know. Oh, I remember it was because he wanted to listen to some music. So I got some music for him. And like I said, this is totally out of the norm. And there's no shame in that that vacation time is a bit different than home life. So anyway, I got him some music and I knew that he wasn't really that tired. And so I laid in there with them because we ended up putting the cot right up against the couch that was up there. So I lay on the couch while he lay on the cot. We listened to music together. And he was a little chatty. And so I asked him why he said he wanted to go to bed early and he said it was because he was just so excited to sleep in his cot. Well, I get that, I guess. And so I offered for him to be able to get up because it was still fairly early for him. He normally goes to bed around eight and it was maybe seven. So I was like, you know what we can definitely do a do-over if you want to come downstairs and hang out with me and sit with me on the couch and we'll talk to your aunt and then we can just hang out and he said no thanks.
I was like, “you'd rather stay here?” He was like, “Well, I want to go down there and play.” That wasn't on the table. So he decided to just hang out on the cot and he was really tossing and turning. So then I offered, “Would you rather sleep in my room?” Because the room I was staying in was big enough for his cot to stay in. So he wanted to do that but the room didn't have any blackout stuff over the window. So I was like, “Okay, well how about you stay here and rest and I'll go blackout the windows, and then I'll come and get you.” So as I'm blacking out the windows with the tinfoil and all things, he fell asleep. So he did not sleep in my room that night. He slept through the night. My youngest slept through the night and got them up around their normal time they woke around seven and my oldest actually did end up... No, my youngest woke up my oldest, but that's kind of the gamble you take when you room-share. It wasn't a huge deal. We still had a great day. We had fun that day.
We did do the quiet time and nap time. We did them all at the same time. So the youngest, my niece, who takes two naps at a year old, and then my other niece who is almost four does a quiet time. Sometimes she naps. So anyway, we did all of the bigger kids' naps and quiet times at the same time. I moved the pack and play and the SlumberPod into the room that I was staying in so that my oldest could do his quiet time in the playroom, which he was so excited about because it was a room full of toys that he has never really played with. And there's a bunch of girl toys he doesn't have a Barbie Dream House, Barbies, and little ponies and stuff so it was so fun for him. So he did his quiet time in there. We had his Hatch still in there, so it had the timer and all the things. We had the kids' podcast that he listens to during quiet time playing so it was very much like it is at home. It was just in a new place. And so he had a great time with that.
My youngest took a nap in the room that I was staying in so he had his privacy and didn't have to worry about him being disturbed. And we had a good quiet time and good nap time. Then we kept playing.
That was Wednesday. Wednesday night we were getting ready for bed and we were doing more of like a normal timeframe of bedtime. So we did dinner and then we were up doing a bath and as they were doing a bath and they were in the bathtub and I had this weird cough thing in my throat. Which, I don't know where else you would cough. But it was it just felt really strange. It felt like something was stuck in the back of my throat. So I'm like trying to get that out and I don't know what was going on at the time. So that was weird. I was rearranging rooms again because like I said, we did naptime in my room. I was trying to move the SlumberPod and pack-and-play back to the playroom and then as I'm shuffling around trying to get this thing out of my throat and all this stuff, it started storming outside, which wasn't a huge deal because my kids aren't terrified of storms, thankfully, but the storm just progressively got worse and worse. And as we wrapped up bathtime, we've brushed our teeth, and we're in the room that I'm staying in to do bedtime story and all of that stuff, this storm intensifies and it's like lightning, crack of thunder. Then you can hear the stuff outside just shaking we hear a bang on the side of the house and turns out it was their umbrella outside that had like flown out and hit the side of the house and all that stuff. So it's causing a bit of anxiety for the boys and honestly, even a little bit for me because I'm like this seems pretty intense. So long story short, the boys end up sleeping in my room. I'm trying to get them to sleep in their designated spaces, so they're not in the bed with me. But because we're in a new place and the storm is pretty intense and we're just like in an unfamiliar place, I told my oldest he could sleep in the bed with me. It was a double bed so I just put pillows between us so that he wasn't smothering me. I wasn't smothering him we had space but we are in the same place and then with my youngest, he is more afraid of loud noises. And so having him in the pack and play, I did get them in there, and then it sort of thundering really bad again and he was just like, "Mommy hold you!" If it was at home, it’d be one thing, but we were not home and it was a new place. So I got him out of the pack-and-play and let him snuggle with me. He did ask to nurse I said, “No, not right now.” I'm not worried that that would start a new habit or anything, but at the same time that is just for me, personally, a boundary that I did not want to cross at that time. So he snuggled up with us in the bed for a little bit and kind of dozed some. As all this is happening, my throat is starting to feel even like that sharpness is kind of progressively getting worse and I have no idea what's going on. And I was worried that I was starting to get sick, but it just felt so different than normal.
So anyway, it's like 11:30 pm at this point. I look at the time and I'm like, “How in the world is it only 11:30?! Like surely it is later than that.” But sure enough, it's only 11:30 pm and my youngest has woken up and I just knew that we weren't gonna be able to make it the rest of the night with him in the bed as well. So I took the risk and put him in the pack-and-play that was right next to our bed and I knew that there was a good chance that he was going to wake up my oldest, but I figured we all just need to get some sleep. If I'm getting sick, I need to just get some rest and I had already had it in my mind that we will be heading home the very next day. So we planned on staying until Friday. The next day it was Thursday. So it wasn't that much of a difference, but I get him into the pack and play, and sure enough, he is very upset about that decision. And he does cause my oldest to stir a little bit, but he was able to get right back to sleep. I don't even know if he ever really fully woke up and it only took my youngest just a couple of minutes for him to calm and settle and he fell asleep and we all slept the rest of the night, which was wonderful. And I woke up still feeling very strange. My tongue felt funny. Even my lips felt weird. So we decided to just pack up our stuff and head home. We were all ready to be back in our own beds.
Anyways, so the travel home was a good one. It was a little bit harder for the boys because we had literally just done that trip two days before and another three hours in the truck did not sound very fun and it wasn't terrible. But we made it home. We did make a pitstop this time which was very helpful. We were able to stretch our legs, use the potty, grab some snacks, hit the road, and head home. So we get home and we unload and all of that and it turns out that I was not getting sick. I was actually having an allergic reaction. So I forget that I am allergic to olive oil. I know that's very strange, but I can eat it when it's cooked but I can't eat it raw unless it is the extra light-tasting kind. So anyway, my sister-in-law had made a homemade salad dressing and it was delicious. But typically when I have an allergic reaction to olive oil, it starts on my lips, then my tongue, and then my throat. This time it was backward. It was my throat tongue then my lips swelled up like crazy on Friday, so I don't know. This is now the following Tuesday and it still feels weird. So I don't know. Anyways, I'm just glad that I wasn't getting sick. No one else was able to catch anything. And we were able to enjoy the rest of the weekend at home. I got a lot of stuff done here and all of that.
So anyway, the whole point of this is to just show you that you can have a great plan and expectations when it comes to sleep or really just vacation in general with children, but it doesn't always go to plan and that's okay. It can still be a good vacation. Right, Bud?
Yep. He's in here helping me.
We definitely needed to catch up on sleep once we got home. So we did earlier bedtimes and I allowed them to sleep in, especially my oldest because he, as I said, does not nap, so I let him sleep in as late as he wants to, or can. And then for my youngest, I just do a much earlier bedtime for him, let him sleep in a little bit, and then do a slightly longer nap. And we're all pretty much caught up.
So I hope that this encouraged you and allows you to just have that freedom on vacation to not feel like you have to be so rigid when you have that solid boundary and good sleep at home. It doesn't have to be wrecked when you come back from vacation. And that's a thing too, my oldest did ask if he could sleep in my bed the first night we got home and I said “No, we don't sleep in mommy's bed at home.” So that is a solid boundary that we have for our home. And he respected that and did well, so we made that transition home as smooth as possible.
Sometimes you have to reinforce and remind them of the boundaries at home but we had a good time and there's that.
Thank you for tuning in for this slightly different type of episode. I hope that it was helpful and encouraging to you and until next time, here is to your sleep and sanity.