How to ensure your baby or toddler still gets the naps needed while balancing a school schedule and pick/up and drop/off with older kids.
You don’t know what you have until it is gone. This phrase is true for many aspects of parenting, and one of those is the nicety of the lack of disruptions in life.
Yes, it can get boring to be home all day every day with little variation to the schedule. The major perk of that, though, is that your schedule is your own.
You get to set it.
You get to work around baby’s nuances and personality quirks.
You fit your family as neatly as possible into the schedule that is the most natural fit for everyone.
Then school starts for your oldest or maybe you enroll your child in something like dance class.
Suddenly, you don’t get to just set the schedule. You have to work around an outside force on your schedule.
Even if things are perfect right now, you might find yourself face to face with having to drive your child to school or practice right in the middle of nap time for your baby.
How can you ever maintain a solid sleep schedule with all of the disruptions going on? Can it even be done? Is it worth trying?
The answer is yes. Yes you can and yes it is worth it.
- Tips for keeping baby or toddler on a sleep schedule with disruptions
- Shift the Sleep Schedule
- Change Time of Activity
- Carpool When Possible
- Get Outside Help
- Change Bedtime and/or Morning Wake up Time
- Cut Unnecessary Disruptions
- Keep Your Little One Awake in the Car
- Let Your Little One Sleep on the Go
- Come What May and Love It
- Related Posts
Tips for keeping baby or toddler on a sleep schedule with disruptions
Here are some tips to make it possible. Use the tips that work for you. You won’t be able to use every tip, so pick and choose which tips make sense for you.
Shift the Sleep Schedule
The first and easiest thing to do is to shift the sleep schedule.
The reason I designate this as the easiest is that you can control it. This is what you can change and have an impact on.
You can’t change what time school starts. You can’t change how long it takes to get there.
The sleep schedule is where you have control, so focus there.
How can you make the schedule work for you?
- Can you get baby up a little earlier? Maybe a little later?
- Can your toddler be a little flexible and handle going down a little later than she is used to?
- Can you change one feeding interval 2.5 hours or 3.5 hours instead of 2 hours to make drop-off or pick-up easier?
Think through the different scenarios to see what you might be able to change to make this disruption less disruptive.
This might mean that you have to stay at a 3 hour schedule even when your seven month old really could move to a four hour schedule.
Change Time of Activity
You might not have a choice, but if you do, change the time of the activity.
Before Brayden started school, we considered a charter school. There are many reasons we didn’t go there and instead chose to go to the public school, but one reason is the start time of school.
The charter school started at a horrible time for my two other daughters at home and I didn’t have the other options I will talk about in this post as options for me to make it work.
Carpool When Possible
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
If you can’t shift the schedule and can’t change the start or end times to work with your schedule, you have no choice but to join in.
Something else you can join is carpooling.
Is there a neighbor you can take turns with? If busing is an option for you, take advantage of that.
Get Outside Help
Ask a neighbor to drive your child to the activity or stay with your sleeping child.
Ask a grandparent who lives nearby to help with driving or staying with the sleeping child.
See if your spouse can be home at all to help with either drop off, pick up, or watching the sleeping baby.
Even if your outside help couldn’t be done every single day, every day that you can have sleep uninterrupted is a bonus for your sleeping child.
When Brinley was a baby, my mom drove McKenna to dance each week so that Brinley could be uninterrupted.
Change Bedtime and/or Morning Wake up Time
If you can’t change the time of activity and can’t get carpooling help, you might need to change what time your sleeping baby or child wakes up in the morning and/or goes to bed at night.
You might need to start bedtime earlier if the nap was shortened due to picking a child up from school.
You might need to get your baby or child up earlier in the morning to get your school-aged child to school in time.
Maybe you need to let your sleeping child sleep in later than you otherwise would so you can have a better daily schedule to fit the school drop off and pick up times.
Cut Unnecessary Disruptions
If the above items aren’t working, cut unnecessary items.
Make a hierarchy list and decide what is most important. What must stay and what could go?
Maybe you have a preschool much closer or that starts at a better time that you could take your preschooler to. It might not be your number one preschool choice, but if it is acceptable, it might be better than disrupting your 6 month old’s naps every single day.
Really be honest as you look at it and decide what is most important and cut what you can.
Keep Your Little One Awake in the Car
One of the worst things for a solid schedule is when your little one gets a catnap in the car.
If your pick-up or drop-off is close to nap time, do your best to keep your little one awake while in the car. Hold off until you get home, or that little 20 minute power nap can really interfere with baby getting a full nap.
I have a whole post with tips for this, so see this post for help:
Let Your Little One Sleep on the Go
On the flip side, you can let your little one sleep in the car. You might be able to drag out the time in the car, or it might be long enough already, to get a good enough nap in.
Maybe if you walked your kids to school, your baby could get a long enough nap in.
Consider making it just part of the routine if needed.
Come What May and Love It
Once you have done everything you can to minimize the disruptions to your baby or toddler’s sleep schedule, the best you can do is accept the disruption as is.
Some disruptions are not negotiable and you might not have any choice but to disrupt sleep each day. In this case, come what may and love it. There are factors you can’t change so all you can do is accept it.
Always remember that sleep schedules change often, especially in the baby months.
Do the best you can, adjust the schedule as you can, get as much help as you can, and then do your best to roll with your reality.
I hope you will be able to find some way to make your drop off and pick up schedule work for your family.
What isn’t working for your baby now might be just fine in four months.
For even more help on this topic, read Managing Baby Plus Older Kids’ Activities.
- How to Put Baby Back to Sleep
- Going to Church Without Ruining Your Baby’s Sleep
- Sleep Disruptions You Will Face as a Babywise Mom
- What To Do When Baby Wakes Early But Isn’t Hungry
- What to do with the youngest child while older siblings are at school
- Why Disruptions to Routine Are Actually Good
- 5 Thought Provoking Reasons To Boycott Preschool
- Reasons Why It Benefits Your Child to Ride the School Bus
- 7 Practical Benefits of Preschool for the Stay at Home Mom
- 3 Little After School Questions That Have a Big Impact
- 5 reasons to choose a play-based preschool
This post originally appeared on this blog July 2018.