A key to good naps on family trips

Knock, knock...

Knock, knock…

If your family is anything like my family, good naps for the kids are hard to come by on family trips. General excitement, unfamiliar sleeping environments, and jet lag often work together to disrupt even the most necessary of afternoon siestas. To make matters worse, on those rare occasions when one of our girls actually does doze off, something inevitably wakes her up.

This why I am currently obsessed with the Knock Nanny, which debuted at the 2014 ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas this week.

In a nutshell, the product is a universal doorbell cover that gives would-be sleep disruptors a stern-but-loving warning about waking the sleeping kid. The covers fit perfectly over doorbells at most vacation houses. They also fit nicely over many (but not all) doorbells inside luxury hotels.

Think of the product as the modern take on a handwritten note you’d tape to the door.

Because the Knock Nanny physically covers the doorbell, however, there’s no chance a would-be child-awakener can wake up the sleeping babe.

The device has 27 available decals you can affix to the front—stickers with cute slogans designed to give people the message to keep it down. Most of the slogans are PG; stuff like “Please knock softly,” and, “Shhh! Baby Sleeping.” I also like the one with tiny star icons that says, “Future Star Sleeping Inside.”

Perhaps the best thing about the Knock Nanny is the price: No matter where you buy it, you can get it for less than $6. Not a bad investment for a nap or two on your next big trip.

What are your secrets for getting kids to nap on family vacations?

Feeling Our Way in the Dark

Sisters. At St. Luke's Garden Playground. In the light.

Sisters. At St. Luke’s Garden Playground. In the light.

The conversion to Standard Time from Daylight Savings Time always is a dicey one for parents with young kids. Little ones wake up earlier. They’re crankier before dinner. Midday naps can go horribly awry.

Thankfully, here in London, we’ve experienced none of these usual problems. Instead, we find ourselves faced with another challenge: Exploring in the dark.

It’s a matter of logistics. R naps from about 130 p.m. local time to 330 p.m. local time every day. Once she wakes up, the process of changing her diaper, feeding her snack, getting her dressed to go out and actually clambering down three flights of stairs generally takes about 45 minutes. This means we’re headed out for our afternoon/evening adventures around 415 p.m.

Which gives us less than one hour of post-nap sunlight to do stuff every day.

On Monday, for instance, we arrived at a local park just as the sun was setting, and proceeded to stick around until it was so dark we couldn’t see the ball we were trying to kick. One day last week (we set clocks back Oct. 27 here), a simple errand to the local pharmacy required the extra purchase of a flashlight to see the way home.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment has been with playground time; because most playgrounds here are run by the city, they close before the sun even begins its descent—at 3:45 p.m.

Of course we learned about the playgrounds the hard way. That fateful day, as I tried to hide my disappointment from the girls, a mom walking by smiled and cheerily offered, “Welcome to London in winter!” I was not pleased.

So far, our solution has been to create a new schedule. On days when the girls want/need playground time, we push back R’s nap to get in an hour while it’s still light. On days when R goes down at regular time, we have what I’ve started calling, “Walkabout,” which consists of nothing more than putting on hats and jackets, taking the flashlight and wandering on foot.

As the temperatures drop, I imagine we’ll transform these evening strolls into evening bus rides or something like that. Nothing like feeling your way in the dark.

How has the time change impacted your travel experiences?

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