When possible, our preference is to sleep in condos when we travel as a family. But, sometimes we end up in one hotel room. We don’t ever enjoy having to move around in stealth mode while we wait for the kids to fall asleep.
Most recently, we had adjoining rooms in a hotel in Sydney, Australia because our family of 5 was apparently too big to occupy one room. That was definitely a great way to stay in a hotel. We didn’t feel like we had a 7:30 bedtime, and the kids were able to fall asleep at a decent hour.
We’ve tried all kinds of things to get our kids to fall asleep in hotel rooms. Some have failed, but others have been a success.
Next time you try to sleep with the whole family in a hotel room, try some of these tricks to get your kids asleep.
Tricks for Getting Your Kids to Sleep (at a decent time) in a Hotel Room
1. Keep a regular schedule. If your kids usually go to bed at 8:00, shoot for 8 on vacation, too. There’s no reason to make things more complicated than they already are.
2. Give them a little slack. No, I’m not contradicting my Trick #1. I’m just reminding you (and myself) that vacations are exciting and sometimes it’s hard to settle down right away in a new place. Let the kids have a few minutes to get all of the ants out of their pants.
3. Keep your routine. If you generally bathe them, read a story, then sing to them, do the same thing in the hotel room. Sure, the tub will be different and they may not have their Thomas the Train bed sheets, but the routine can still be consistent.
4. Ignore them.* After you have all your little chicks in bed, pretend like you’re not in the room or that you can even see your children. Try to avoid talking to them so they get the message that it’s actually time to fall asleep. If you have a small reading light or flashlight, you could do some reading in bed. This one is hard, which is why we usually proceed to Trick #5.
*Obviously, if they are being boisterous or the baby is crying loudly, be considerate of your hotel neighbors and do something about it.
5. Leave the room. But don’t go too far! If there is a patio connected to your hotel room with a door that doesn’t sound like a freight train when it’s opened, enjoy some time there with your spouse. Though many hotels don’t have this luxury, most have a restroom. Admittedly, we have spent many evenings in the bathroom waiting patiently for our kids to fall asleep. It certainly seems like our kids start counting their zzzzzzzzzzz’’s sooner when we’re not in view. Might as well enjoy a hot bath or even take the laptop into the bathroom to watch a DVD.
6. Split the kids up. Our kids have so much fun together, but that can be problematic at bedtime. Sometimes we’ve had to put our kids in different beds so they’ll fall asleep. Warning: This decision makes for an uncomfortable night of sleep for mommy! How does a 2-year-old take up so much space anyway?
7. Be creative. One time, I had to play Uno in the bathroom with my two oldest (ages 4 and 2) while the baby was falling asleep. We just took some extra bed sheets and towels and made ourselves a comfortable seat on the floor. Then I made them tiptoe into the room so they could go to bed. They were less likely to talk because they knew they might wake the baby.
Another time I made a separate “room” by pulling the big curtain around the crib so my wee one wouldn’t be distracted by us during her naptime.
Look around the hotel room and see if there is a way you can rearrange the beds to make things easier for your family. (Just remember to put it back when you’re finished!)
8. Use the TV or don’t use it. Depending on your children, some may stay awake watching the evening news. Others may get bored and fall asleep.
9. Tell your kids what you expect. Say something like, “I realize that it’s so exciting to sleep in a new place, but it’s really important for you to go to sleep. Otherwise you might be too tired to enjoy Sea World tomorrow.” Give them a few minutes to talk, but enforce your rules just like you would at home.
10. Wear them out during the day. If all else fails, keep them as busy as bees during the day. Eventually they’ll have to sleep, right?
How do you get your kids to fall asleep when you’re in a single hotel room?