Tips for Hotel Stays with Littles
My husband works a job that has a lot of travel involved. Most of the time he can get to and from where he’s going within the day, but sometimes he needs to stay over night. He’s the New England Sales Representative for the running shoe brand, On. Accessing places like New Hampshire at 6am or leaving Southern Connecticut at 10:30pm can be difficult and he’s better off to get a hotel. Sometimes, if it’s a family friendly event, or tourist town, the girls and I might join him and do our own thing while waiting for him to be “off the clock”. As a result, we’ve become experts at staying in hotels with little ones. That is not to say it goes perfectly all the time, but generally speaking, it goes about as well as things go at home. Today I’ll share some of my tips for making Hotels like Home. So whether it’s vacation, a day trip or a goal race, you have a few things you can try to make your stay better.
2. Be picky about your hotel
If you can afford it, get a better hotel room. If you can get a suite, DO IT! Check amenities like a pool, hot tub, or breakfast options. Raea loves using all the hotel pools. She likes to compare them. We usually stay in a Residence Inn so we can have a kitchen. Be close to a grocery store or a convenience store so that you’re in walking distance. There’s nothing worse than taking your kids out of a car after a long day of travel and having to put them back in... even if it’s only 5 more minutes of driving, it’s not worth it. Walking distance gives everyone a chance to move and stretch and recover from what could have been a traumatic trip (maybe tips on that part are needed...?)
3. Look at Pictures
Let your child look at pictures in advance to prepare them and excite them. It will be less strange when they’ve visually seen what it might look like and where they might be sleeping. We don’t need to do this anymore because we’ve stay in very similar hotels (Marriotts for Matts points!) but it did help in the past.
4 Give forced choices for EVERYTHING.
Giving a forced choice is my go-to behavior management style, but it’s especially important when in an unfamiliar place where your child feels they have lost all sense of stability and control. Here are some varying degrees of control and choices you can give to your child with the example of getting dressed (bane of my existence!)
No Choice/No Control: It’s time to get dressed, Here are pants for you today.
Free Choice/Full Control: Do you want to get dressed?
Forced Choice/Perceived Control: It’s time to get dressed, do you want the pants or the skirt?
I use this across the board... A healthy in between Free Choice and No Choice. Of course my threenager doesn’t fall for the game every time anymore and I’m met with “those are NOT MY CHOICES!!!” But if I’m on my A-Game (which you have to be in the Hotel, see Tip 1) I’m giving enough choices between highly preferred things (“your unicorn stuffy or your owl?”.... “Frozen or Moana?” “Pink shoes or purple shoes”) that she doesn’t always pick up on the “sleep on this side or that side.” Even if you are 99% sure your child will pick the pink shoes, it’s not about shoes... it’s about control. Taking your kid out of a familiar environment and expecting them to do a vulnerable thing like relax, let their guard down and....SLEEP... makes them seek control in whatever way possible... but of course they aren’t rational human beings so you need to guide most of their choices. This also goes for your toddlers who might not understand everything you say. They want control too and need familiar items to make them feel safe.
5. Pack it ALL
To add to tip 2, but expand on it, pack it ALL if you can. How can you give forced choices without enough items for choices? You want to have enough clothing, stuffys, books, that they have the comfort they need and you have the leverage you need. It also is useful to let them help you pack (tip 2!! “Do you want to pack this or that?” Or “choose 2 and remember once we leave you can’t change your mind)
But PACK THE MONITOR! We don’t have to do this anymore, but it was especially helpful when Maebel or Raea were too young to reason with. If your child or baby is used to falling asleep with bath, book, song, and you leaving the room... you have to leave the room! Since we often get a residence inn with two rooms it’s much easier these days, but I have many memories of Matt and I sitting in the hallway outside our door watching the monitor waiting for the baby to fall asleep. Other helpful “must haves” HDMI cable and computer, or your roku, you could call in advance to find out what you’d need to stream familiar movies or shows... but if your kids are struggling to settle... a calm, familiar TV show is my go-to. My kids love Daniel Tiger so I usually put on the daytime/night time routine ones or the one where he visits his granpere and has to sleep somewhere new.
6. Chocolate Melatonin
Probably, maybe, *supposed* to get a doctor for this but My kids are fine. It’s melatonin! And they think they are getting a piece of chocolate! It’s a great way to get through bath routine- I’m not above bribery. It’s called POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT! Anyway, before I put on a relaxing show I give them each one, quickly brush teeth, and lay them down in their beds. They usually fall asleep in 20 minutes and STAY asleep!
7 Call ahead for a pack and play or cot.
Many hotels have a few pack and plays so this limits bigger packing items so you have more room for all the...eh,em... choices. But be sure to bring a blanket or sheet of your own just for familiarity and to cover it. When I first requested one I was afraid it was going to be dirty, like my kid slobbers all over it! But they have always been very clean in my experience. The hotels we’ve used them at have fully washable covers so there’s not a single spot where a kid can chew on that wasn’t covered. But I still take my own cover just in case!
8. Spend time in the room
We usually have a Residence Inn so we eat breakfast and dinner in the room but go out for lunch. In a regular hotel room there’s always something to heat up water so I pack things that just need water added like Annie’s instant Mac and Cheese and Oatmeal. (Also favorites! Comfort in all areas you can provide within reason!). Remember, the more comfortable, familiar, and safe it feels the better! So spend some time there, even if it’s just the first day.
They are a thing. All those annoying lights that blink and might make your kid think there’s going to be a fire alarm... easy way to cover them is with black post-it’s. What else are you using them for? You might need to put a few on, but it works! Good luck with the crack above the door, though!
Don’t be afraid. You have to do it to get better at it. You can’t force someone to fall asleep- I know this because I try to force myself everyday and I just end up blogging into the wee hours of the night.... so your goal should really just be to provide as much comfort as possible... and from there sleep may be possible! The first time I went on an overnight with Matt I swore to never do it again. I was up ALL NIGHT down in the gym walking an almost 2 year old on the treadmill 7 months pregnant hoping she’d get tired... But... the only one fatiguing was me! Here we are, 2 years later and I’m still up all night, but my kids (and husband) sleep fine! So hopefully yours will too!
If anyone has tips on how to get adults to sleep at a hotel (or at home, also) I’m all ears! I’d love to wake up like this!
Any tips to add? Comment below! I’m sure you’re all thinking of the obvious “make them tired!” But I just call that parenting....”make kids as tired as possible so they will go right to bed” rinse, repeat.....
Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth! Despite Raeas overly dramatic initial reaction to the fireworks, we had a blast! But next year we will view them from further away to be sure no one is traumatized.
Welcome to my blog! I've been blogging for a long time on various platforms. My intention has never been to reach the masses, but rather to give myself a chance to reflect and journal. I feel it at least challenges me to be somewhat coherent, however you can expect ramblings and grammatical incorrectness here!
I've recently been diagnosed with CECS and fPAES and had it treated with BOTOX of all things... So I suspect to see more and more people looking for answers with that in the future and hope to continue blogging so there will be easy to access follow-ups as that was helpful for me.
NOTE: Apologies that some of the pictures incorrectly load sometimes. I try to keep up with the glitches, but can't always! Hope it doesn't impact the blog experience for all the PAES visitors.