Sleeping in the Caribbean with Kids

My family and I just got back from a Caribbean vacation for a week (thank you travel points credit card!) and it was a wonderful, relaxing, beautiful, and MUCH-needed trip! Here is the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly of our trip, where siblings had to share not only a room, but a bed, for a week, and the sun rises at 5 a.m. or so every day. There were some funny moments, too, since the world of a 3 year old is full of interesting combinations of events!

The Good

The Caribbean is a beautiful place where the sands are white and the oceans a beautiful blue (see above photo and click to enlarge). We swam, played in the ocean waves, and the boys learned to swim/doggie paddle in the pool. Traveling with kids is definitely different (though we’ve done it several times). On the one hand, they are impatient as one minute feels like 30 and on the other hand, you have to be mindful that they will get hungry more frequently, you may have dinner at odd times, and once they’re in bed, you’re in for the night, too. Even on vacation, we only push our kids so much being awake, since over-tiredness plagues you even on vacation. Not to mention that the sun just wipes you out. Confession: My husband and I were in bed asleep by 10 p.m. almost every night, too!! I don’t know his excuse, but I needed the sleep. :D Our boys traveled very well and even strangers commented on what good travelers they were, which of course made us gleam (I know good rest helped, too). We have definitely learned from past experiences, so don’t fret if the first time you travel doesn’t go smoothly. It gets better.

Sleep-wise, the boys had to share a room and a bed, neither of which they do at home. This was interesting and definitely gave me some inspiration for the next article in my Sibling Series. The one thing that is important to recognize is when it comes to babies and kids, in general, is that the first night often does not indicate how things will be a week or two later. The boys played, giggled a lot, and took a long time to fall asleep the first couple of times, but by mid-week, sometimes one was asleep before the other even got in bed, and if they weren’t, they fell asleep much faster after a few reminders it was time to sleep. It did not go perfectly, but they did a great job! Once they were asleep, barring one or two nightmares by my eldest (photo above to the left), they stayed asleep, thankfully! They asked to sleep together Sunday night after we got home, but I told them that we will practice on Friday nights until they fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time (20-30 minutes) and once they do, they can sleep together more often. I know it will take practice on their part (and to let it get old) and we can’t afford to let an hour pass before falling asleep on school days.

The Bad

Yes, the boys slept well together, but they did not sleep past 7 a.m. even ONE day! The sun was up at 5 a.m. (or so) and no matter how dark I tried to keep it, they were ready to go by 6 to 6:30 a.m. most days. They were very excited to be on vacation, so that also contributed. Since I was asleep by 10 p.m. almost every night, it was actually not too bad compared to nights I work until midnight sending Personalized Sleep Plans™.

The Ugly

The summer is actually “off season” in the Caribbean. This is great for crowds, but it’s also rainy and mosquito season. I had at least 20 bites on my legs alone after the first day before we got diligent about bug repellent (see patch on my arm above). Thankfully, I got the brunt of it and my eldest only got one bite (my youngest none)! I am thankful that I took one for the team there. I’m sure I whined enough for all of us. :D

The trip back was pretty brutal. Ironically, the long portion of our plane ride was GREAT! But, the last plane ride, which was just an hour, was soooo tiring because it was late at night, past the boys’ bedtimes. My son became pretty manic and ultra-hyper from being so very over-tired. I actually felt bad for him that he was losing it pretty bad (though not crying) on the plane and fell asleep 5 minutes from landing only to have to wake up to go the rest of the way home. :( They were troopers, but definitely a looong day and the latest they’ve ever stayed up (18 hours for the one who doesn’t nap and almost 1:15 a.m. when they finally went to bed). Pretty rough!

The Funny

I started writing down some things on our trip that I wanted to share in this article. My three year old cracked me up! :D Here are a few things that were either funny or endearing:

  • The first two days I heard “I want to go home” several times from my youngest son. He did not want to sleep outside his own bed, poor thing. By the last day, he said “I don’t want to go home.”
  • When asked what dessert he wanted one night he was offered ice cream flavors and one was “Cookies and Cream.” His request was “Cookies without the cream.” LOL Too cute. They didn’t have just cookies, though.
  • My youngest wanted a combination cereal of Raisin Bran and Froot Loops (yeah cereal choices were limited and we were on vacation) and he ate it! Ewww!
  • You might remember our potty training experience, but when you gotta go, you gotta go and my youngest had to go when I was in the water with my eldest, hubby was jet skiing, and he said he tried to call for me. He pooped and we had to go clean him up in the bathroom on the beach. Not fun, but poor thing!! I’m sure when he’s 20 he’ll love that I shared this here. :D
  • It’s so interesting how you have to be “strong” for your kids. I grew up in California and hated seaweed, but found myself saying things like “It won’t hurt you. They’re just plants in the water.” to my youngest. I had to even touch it to move it out of the way! :O Too funny.
  • It was past nap time and I was holding my son in the ocean and he started falling asleep in my arms from the movement of the waves. So sweet! Awww!

The REALLY “Funny”

Gross but classic was when my husband found my three year old drinking water out of the bidet (something used to clean yourself after going to the bathroom in French areas)!!! OMG! It’s just too “funny” not to share. I would have taken a picture, but of course, that is too gross not to stop right then and there. LOL

Share your good, bad, ugly, and funny summer moments!

Now that I’m back, if you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.


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Comments

  1. Ophelia says

    Awww, that is so sweet! LOL at the bidet!

    We are on vacation at the moment in Chicago with my 9 month old – on the way out here from the Uk she went 36 hours with only one. 3 hour nap :-(. It has taken a few days but she is now STTN again, although like yours waking at 5am when the sun comes up! But at least we don’t have mosquitoes so I’m now thankful for small mercies!!

  2. mcz says

    Thanks for sharing! We haven’t braved vacations yet but plan to next summer. Your boys are both adorable – glad you were able to get some rest and good family time.

  3. Laurie says

    We went on vacation last month and were surprised at how well our 12 month old slept. She even napped like a champ! We had a similar gross experience… They have small dogs about the same size as her. By the end of day 1, she was leading the dogs through the doggie door and partaking in their water and food bowls. She even tried to eat her own food off the floor… It was hilarious. Now that we are home with our BIG dog, I am hoping she understands she is human :)

  4. says

    @Ophelia Oh wow on the 36 hours with one 3-hour nap! :( I’m glad you’re getting back on track, now. Good luck with the rest of your trip and thanks for commenting!

    @mcz Thank you so much!! Good luck on your first vacation next summer! :)

    @Laurie That’s awesome your 12 month old slept so well! :) LOL on the dog bowls. Kids are so cute! :)

  5. Jennifer says

    Nicole, I had to comment because your boys are so cute! How nice to see those happy little faces. Thanks for sharing pictures (and insights!) from your vacation.
    By the way, going to bed at 10 pm is just plain smart when you’ve got little ones ready to pop awake early the next morning.
    We’re on vacation right now, and my 21-month-old has been a champ with his sleeping (8 pm to 7 am) – thank goodness!!! We always worry about changing his sleep routine, so it’s such a relief to know that it can be done. Months and months of consistent sleep practices at home have been essential (same bedtime routine, gentle but firm put-downs for all sleep). It has also helped that we brought all his usual blankets with us, did a lot of research to find (affordable) accommodations with a separate room for him, and blacked out the windows in his room (taped up garbage bags, in our case).
    We also plan most of our days around having him back in his pack and play for his mid-day nap, so we have a morning activity and then a separate afternoon activity. There have been a couple of days when we stayed out the entire day and he had to nap on the go, but we keep him well-rested on all the other days. We do whatever we can to make things consistent and comforting for him. It may make planning a bit more difficult for us, but prioritizing his sleep definitely improves the quality of the time that we spend together as a family – no grumpy toddler to deal with!

  6. Anna says

    Very cutre boys! We just came back from ClubMed and our 19mo was excellent traveller – car, plane, boat and bus rides. Due to meals being at different times the sleep times were pushed 1hr later, luckily our boy got up an hr later too! The funiest/most frustrating time was bed time ~8pm when the show started and we could hear the music and our boy jumped up in the portacot and started saying ‘dancing, outside, dancing!’ and pointing out the window. It took some patience to explain to him that it’s his bed time. We had a great week! Holidays are fantastic!

  7. Lori says

    We haven’t braved a true vacation with our 1yr old yet, but we have done some traveling. He always does fantastic the first day and night, but doesn’t sleep well after that. I’m hoping it will get better with age once he’s old enough to understand.

  8. Debbye says

    @ Jennifer- It sounds like you guys were VERY prepared, and it payed off! Great! Thanks for sharing, and for writing while you are on vacation! Enjoy!

    @ Anna- Sounds fantastic! Thanks for writing, and I can defenitely relate to the funny/frustrating bedtime battle when your toddler knows there is much more exciting things going on outside!

    @ Lori- Good luck when you do brave a “true” vacation!” You’ve now got all the tips you need to help things go as smoothly as possible! :)