It has been over two weeks since our vacation to Bali recently. It was a great break and family quality time. The girls had so much fun and overall, it was a pleasant and enjoyable trip. Much better than the ones before.
With my youngest, it had always been a little struggle whenever we travel because she is sensitive to her surroundings. Anything that was new and unfamiliar was very scary for her and she could never sleep well whenever we’re on vacation. Plus the fact that we were traveling, nap schedule always went erratic. That definitely contributed to the restless nights.
Since learning about emotional well-being and its importance when it comes to understanding a child’s fear, anxiety and emotions, I have been more prepared in that sense for our recent trip. It used to be about just bringing along her sleeping bag, pillow, Groclock and sticking as close as possible to her nap routine. What I did differently this time was for the playpen/cot to be sent to our villa as soon as we checked in, so that I could get her to be familiarized with her temporary sleeping place for the next couple of nights. I put her in the playpen, we played hide-and-seek and “I’m coming to get you!” type of games. I wanted her to feel happy and safe in it while subtly telling her a few times that day that she will be sleeping in it for a few nights.
That same night, we did our usual bedtime routine – a book, a bedtime story, a lullaby, verse recital and prayers and lights off. At first she was alright, then after a few minutes, she started looking for me. I kept by her side the whole time, reassuring her that it was alright. The playpen was placed next to our bed. She didn’t want to be in the playpen and asked to be carried out. I did exactly that. We hugged and I held her while she cried to release all the emotions that she was feeling that time. Once she was calmed, I told her that I would put her back into her sleeping place and she agreed. She fell asleep 5 minutes after that!
You might be wondering why didn’t I just allow her to co-sleep in the same bed. Well, we had co-slept her entire life up until she was 16 months old and honestly, neither her or myself got any good sleep throughout those times. She is just not the cuddly and stay put kind like my eldest daughter. She would toss and turn the whole night. She needs her own space to sleep well.
By the second night onwards, she did not have trouble falling asleep in a new place anymore. It was rather easy and effortless on our part (my husband and I) when it was bedtime. By the way, sunrise was 6.15am and sunset was 6.30pm in Bali so we were woken up super early and the kids had trouble staying awake once it was dark outside.
That’s my story to share about how powerful crying-in-arms approach is and how it can help your child to release pent up emotions to feel better and relaxed enough to fall asleep. Think of a time when you had a good cry after a painful and sad experience with someone who was listening with empathy. I bet you felt a lot better after that 😉
Few days after the trip, my youngest celebrated her 3rd birthday. I am looking forward to more holidays and trips in the future. No more dread! Ha!