We're fortunate to live in the same state with our parents -- close enough for a day trip now and then. But we still find ourselves needing to spend the night away from home, either visiting friends and family or taking a vacation. And the hardest part for us has consistently been sleep.
We moved Junius to a big boy bed when he was two, so he's been the easy one. And when Pippi was a baby, she survived in the pack-and-play okay for a while.
Then we took her to stay with friends in Charlotte.
She had just turned two years old -- still sleeping happily in her crib at home, but probably too big for the pack-n-play we parked at the foot of our bed. She tossed, turned and sobbed all night. "I go home. Seep my crib," she wailed. It was so pitiful. She was miserable, we were miserable, no one slept. We left after lunch the next day to avoid another disastrous night.
For months after, we simply didn't travel overnight. But then there were vacations and other trips we couldn't pass on. And thus began our trial-and-error approach to solving the Pippi problem.
Here's what I've learned about sleeping away with a toddler who's too big for a pack-n-play and not yet ready for a bed:
- The very cute toddler-sized air mattress with built-in princess pink sleeping bag was not the answer. She loved it when I pulled it out of the box, wouldn't get off of it when we inflated it in, snuggled right into the sleeping bag when we zipped her up. And then she was done with it. Took forever to get her to sleep, then we found her like this (photo above) an hour later. She's sound asleep in that picture -- on the floor, with her head on the mattress. We slid her back into the sleeping bag, but she was awake and in our bed an hour after that.
- Putting her in the trundle bed at her grandparents' house next to her brother was not the answer. They talked and giggled and wouldn't go to sleep. They switched beds back and forth. And in the middle of the night, when we thought they were finally sleeping, she hopped up, ran into the living room and retrieved a pile of toys to take back to her bed. She ended up in bed with me and her daddy slept on the trundle with Junius that night.
- Same scene, different day at the other grandparents' house when we tried putting her in the twin bed (with rails on both sides) beside her brother.
- Tucking her into the queen- or king-sized bed with us meant she eventually slept -- but we didn't. She rolls around, throws elbows and kicks in her sleep. Oh, and she wakes up at the crack of dawn, ready to play.
- And finally, the solution. If she sleeps fine at home in her crib, then get a crib. Duh. On a weekend trip to Virginia Beach, we asked the hotel to set up a crib in our room. Worked like magic. She slept so well, we didn't even mind when she woke up smiling with the sun at the foot of our bed and sang out, "Hi Daddy!" Later in the summer, we stayed with a friend who still had a crib in storage -- magic again. And on our end-of-summer beach week, we rented a crib from one of those places that rents beach chairs and umbrellas. Ta-da! Even at naptime, it worked like a charm.
I realize we'll have to move her to a bed at some point -- but I've decided not to sweat it until she turns three. And Thursday night, she'll be in another hotel crib, hopefully sleeping soundly after a wild day of playing with the cousins and eating too much dessert.
Now, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE for where to go next:
- Evelyn at Momsicle, who embraced the red-eye and mood-altering substances
- Sue at Motherhood and Me, who won't let a little in-flight poop get in the way of traveling all over the country to see her family
- Kim at Let Me Start By Saying, who believes that with the right packing list, a little compromise and some red wine, you can successfully travel with two kids
- Sandhya at Literary Safari, who tackled international travel with a baby and lived to tell about it
- And more later this week from Lauren at Fizgiggery
If you want to join in the fun, leave your tips in the comments here or write your own travel tips post and leave the link in the comments.