Military Moves Part 8: Kids and Sleep
The effects of sleep deprivation are no joke my friends!
Posting season. These two little words carry so many emotions with them don’t they? If you were blessed by the posting “Gods” this year (or cursed, depending on your situation of course) I’m sure there were a number of challenges you and your family had to over come! But if life in your new home has posed some serious troubles on the sleep front with your kids, it can make any other challenges you may be going through feel 100x worse! The effects of sleep deprivation are no joke my friends!
Refusing to go to bed? Major Meltdowns?
So, how are your kids sleeping in their new digs? Did you have to transition siblings into the same room? Did you choose this time to switch your toddler out of their crib and into their big-kid bed? Are they just all of a sudden refusing to go to bed at night? Maybe they’re dishing out some major meltdowns? Whatever the case may be, maybe I can help you out by offering a few tips.
Consistency and predictability make our kids feel safe
All of my tips centre around the concept of consistency. This is a tricky one to maintain when you’re moving houses! This move could really turn their whole world upside down for a while. The good news is that kids are resilient! And this transition will come to an end eventually. In the meantime, consistency and predictability make our kids feel safe. They need to know where their boundaries are in their new environment so they can safely explore within those boundaries. When we abandon the normal routine it fosters instability and insecurity for them. These feelings show up looking like defiance, tantrums or whining. Then they start testing to find those boundaries all over again. So, what does consistency look like at bed time?
Tip # 1 - same bedtime routine
Keep the steps in your bedtime routine the same from the first house to the next, and every hotel in between. Let them feel the comfort in that familiarity. If you normally read 1 story at bed time in the old house but now you’re giving into demands for “one more” over and over, you’re feeding the instability that leads to the tantrums that flare up when you later try and tuck them in. Also be sure to follow the same steps in the same order every night.
Tip #2 - environment as similar as possible
Keep their sleep environment as similar as humanly possible. This is when I love the use of white noise machines, and a lovey or comfort blanket/stuffed animal. Keep those things with you (not the moving truck). Use these to your advantage not only at the new house, but also in the hotel while you’re waiting for your furniture and effects to arrive at your new place. This is not the time to transition your child to a different bed, or out of their crib. If possible, you should also try to avoid making changes to room sharing. These are monumental changes in your child’s life, especially for the young ones. Their world is already rocked by a new home and all that comes with that transition, try to postpone those other shifts until the dust settles.
Tip #3 - prioritize bedtimes and nap times
Make sure you’re keeping bedtimes and nap times at the top of your priority list.I know there’s a lot of demand placed on you during this move. And I know that you’re human, so sometimes bedtime and/or nap may have to shift, but try your best to keep on schedule. Remember, life with an overtired, cranky child becomes infinitely harder than trying to carve out the necessary time in your schedule to keep their sleep on track. Well established sleep schedules can usually allow for a half hour window, but that window is greatly dependent on each child’s own tolerance. Some kids are just more flexible than others with their sleep needs. It’s also important to remember how much more challenging it is to get an overtired child to go to bed, than a child who is in that sweet spot of their “awake window” coming to a close.
For more information on child sleep needs, awake windows or any number of sleep questions out there, or to look at working together to help your family get some sleep, be sure to check out www.sweetsleepbycory.com, or follow Sweet Sleep by Cory on facebook or instagram.
Cory Biederman is a currently serving CAF member who originally obtained her BA in political science from Guelph University. She certified as a paediatric sleep consultant through the Sleep Sense program in 2018 with Dana Obleman as her direct mentor, as well as an awesome network of fellow sleep consultants with overwhelming experience. The science and impact of sleep has been her passion since having her first child in 2016.