One of the questions I often get from parents whose babies are FINALLY sleeping well is, “Now that I have to keep this schedule, will I ever have a life?” And the short answer is- yes! With a little creativity and consideration, you can find a healthy balance between respecting your child’s sleep schedule and making sure you’re getting out, socializing and not always skipping events. Read on to find out how!
So here’s the thing. Part of respecting your child’s sleep needs and helping them to be good sleepers includes sticking to a good schedule. If you don’t commit to this schedule the majority of the time, you will probably end up falling back into difficult sleep habits, refusing naps, night wakings, or any other unpleasant sleep issues you were having before your little one sleep trained. This usually happens because you start a cycle of being overtired by constantly skipping naps or general inconsistency.
Also, if you have a younger baby, remember that the days of multiple naps only last so long. A little after a year, many babies are quite ready to make that one nap transition, and one middle of the day nap is MUCH easier to plan your busy day around!
However, if your baby is needing multiple naps still, there are ways to keep your schedule as best you can while also getting out. You obviously don’t want to feel chained to your living room every day! I do only recommend doing this once or twice a week at the most.
A Katelyn-approved nap on the go requires a few things. 1. A general keeping of the schedule 2. Setting the mood 3. At least 30 minutes to sleep.
- A general keeping of the schedule. Know your child’s proper wake times, and look at the time they should be tired for their nap in relation to your event or play date. Does it make sense for them to take a nap in the car on the way there? While you’re there in the stroller or carrier? Or in the car on the way back? Knowing this, plan to follow the two steps below.
- Set the mood. You guys know I’m crazy about sleep so yes, I have absolutely brought white noise in the car for a drive that I knew would overlap with nap time. lol. You know what is also fantastic as white noise? The air conditioning in your car on full blast. If it gets cold, you can set it to a neutral or warm temperature and aim it at the windshield. Bring a blanket or lovey or anything comfy that helps your child feel comfortable enough to fall asleep, and give it to them at nap time. Drive and cross your fingers 😉
- At least 30 minutes to sleep. 45 minutes is even better. A baby’s sleep cycle lasts between 20-50 minutes, so if you are able to get them through about one sleep cycle, it at least counts as a “meh” nap ???? Anything less than that and they might get overtired before their next nap, so be on the lookout for sleepy signs!
Let’s run through a couple scenarios.
SCENARIO ONE: So, let’s say that your baby wakes at 7am and needs a nap by 10am, and you are wanting to go to a play date with friends starting at 10:30am. My advice would be to get in the car early at 9:45am. Turn on white noise. Bring the lovey or blanket that makes your little one feel the most cozy. Go through the Starbucks drive through or whatever you want to do to pass the extra time, and drive around while letting your little one get at least 30 minutes of shut eye in the car seat before you arrive.
SCENARIO TWO: Your little one wakes at 7:45am and needs a nap at 11:00am. Your friend playdate starts at 10:30am. Their nap falls right in the middle of playdate! Eek! Bring your sling, baby carrier or stroller with you. Let your baby play for a while and get some energy out, but when nap time rolls around, put them in the carrier or stroller and do your best to induce sleep. You can also bring a little portable white noise machine like this one to help this along. Remember, she just needs 30-45 minutes in order to make sure she doesn’t get overtired before her next nap.
Finding a balance between getting out and socializing and making your sleep schedule a priority isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it!