It seems that every time my family travels somewhere my child loses his ability to sleep. Usually by the end of a trip he kind of begins to grasp the concept, but even then toddlers are unpredictable creatures, when you think they’re going to zig they zag, and when you think they’re going to zag they just throw their sippy cup on the ground and do their best banshee impression. The holidays bring out the inevitable, the decorations, the festive sweaters, all the carbs, being forced to listen to your Trump loving uncle’s tirade about the election, and of course, the travel. Many travel to see their loved ones around the holidays and if your child is anything like mine, he or she may not do so well sleeping away from home two doors down from Aunt Betty who snores loud enough to wake the dead. And because sleep is necessary for parents to function here are some stages to help you cope with the inevitability that your kid will not sleep during your holiday trip home to see your folks:
“This year it will be different.” It’s sweet really, but it’s naïve. Right off the bat you may be optimistic that your little ray of sunshine will have no sleep problems while your away— this is something that I swear children feed off of. The moment you have this twinkle of positive thinking in your eye is when they strike. And by strike I mean quite literally they go on strike and stop sleeping. Denial is all part of the process, but just ride it out because you have a rollercoaster of emotions ahead of you.
Usually by night two or three this hits. “WHY WON’T HE JUST SLEEP?!” I know you don’t mean to feel this insurmountable anger, but sleep deprivation will do that to a person. The worst part? Junior will not accept a bedtime routine from anyone else but you, so while your family and friends are downstairs playing games, drinking some of grandpa’s homemade wine, and sharing stories, you’re stuck in a bedroom singing “Let it Snow” for the 13th time because you literally can’t think of any other song to sing.
My child is still too young to understand the concept of Santa, but I’m putting this in my back pocket for the future. “Santa will go on Amazon Prime right now and make sure you have _____ on Christmas morning if you just go to the f to sleep.” I’m not above bribing with cookies and Daniel Tiger, and I’m certainly not above bringing Santa Clause into this, too. But no Elves on the Shelf, I simply refuse to do that one.
This is more of a nightly occurrence after the 3rd wake up, usually due to someone in the house who is not used to living with a small human. Get that baby down, mama. And the minute you do so grab yourself a glass (bottle) of wine and sip (chug) it. After all, who knows how much time you have? 15 minutes? 3 hours?
By night four or five you realize that there really is no hope for a decent nights sleep until you get home, so you might as well ride it out. The sooner accept that you will have no sleep on your trip to visit your family, the sooner you can accept that there is literally nothing you can do about it. Well, actually there is one thing. Store this pain, suffering, and memory of sleepless nights in the back of your mind and remember them fondly when you wake your kid up before 9 a.m. on this same trip when they are a teenager. Then have them fetch you a coffee while they’re at it. Hell, you certainly deserve it.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and hoping that Santa brings you some sleepy dust. If he doesn’t bring that then I hope he at least drops off some espresso and some wine.