One of my most FAQ after working with a client and helping their child form healthy sleep habits (and if you’re following my healthy sleep habits series on social media, you’ll know all about those!) is how do I still have a life?!
I get it. You can feel like a slave to a schedule when you’re child is finally napping well during the day and sleeping well at night (and so are you, mama!). You don’t want to wreck all of your hard work, right? The good news is that while it is important to clear your schedule for the period of time you’re working with me, once your child isn’t in a constant sleep debt / overtired, you can have some flexibility.
But you can also maintain your schedule, have a life, and have a well-rested, flexible kid at the same time. It just takes some creativity!
So here are some ways to maintain your schedule (and I’ll include some ways to get back on track if your schedule gets derailed at the end)
1. Plan around naps. Probably the easiest thing for me because I’m very type A and my head looks like a hourly calendar at all times 😉 It’s important to note that they won’t always have multiple naps a day and a one nap day is much easier to plan around. Throw in 2 kids though on different nap schedules… and it really does take some creativity!
2. Plan for a car nap, stroller nap, or carrier nap if needed. I always weigh what the plan is vs my sanity. Is it worth a little crazy to have fun or do something for the day? Absolutely! If it’s not, we don’t go because we’re the ones dealing with a cranky kid. Remember that naps on the go are not as restorative, but so long as it’s not every nap, every day then you’re fine to use those tools as needed. But try to plan for that nap to happen at least close to their normal nap time.
3. Control the schedule! You can wake a sleeping baby, believe it or not. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but LIFE. So if you have to be somewhere at 10:30 and your child naps 9:30-11, I would do something like wake them 30 minutes earlier in the morning to shift the schedule or cut the nap to 30/45 minutes and let them nap longer for a different nap. Or use earlier bedtime if needed.
Now, if you really just can’t adjust and things are going to get off the rails for a full day event, here’s some tips for approved naps on the go!
1. Aim for a normal-ish schedule. If your child is used to napping at 2 specific times of the day, shoot for within 15-30 minutes of normal nap time. All you need is a 30-45 minute nap to reset your child and help them make it through the day.
2. Set the mood! If you can, set up a sleeping space for them. If not, at least bring their lovey and white noise (or use an app on your phone). I’ve stuck my phone in the pocket of our baby carrier for a nap when we’re out and about. It’s a very strong sleep cue for our little ones!
3. Get them home for bedtime, possibly a little earlier than normal and let them make up some sleep they missed from a busy day. Keep in mind, it can take a few days to make up the sleep debt so keep it low key if you got really off schedule for the days following.
And finally, if you get off the tracks resulting in short naps, night wakings, or early mornings, then my advice is to go back to the basics! Whatever your sleep training method was, make sure bedtime is appropriate, you’re responding appropriately to night time wake ups, and not starting your day too early to perpetuate the early morning.
Finding the balance between a well-rested kid and a social life isn’t always easy, but can be done with a little bit of creativity and respect for your child’s sleep needs. Remember, it’s just a season. You won’t be a slave to naps and bedtime forever!
Need more help?
While it can take some creativity to maintain a schedule, it can be even more difficult to create one that works for your child! If you’re struggling in that area, you can view my packages and see if there’s one that fits your needs. If not, I’d love to create something custom for you!