Ask Shelly: Tips for juggling toddler naps while visiting Paris?

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As some of you know, I’ve run periodic “Ask Shelly” articles in my Travels with Baby column at Examiner.com. In the interest of better serving my loyal readers here (who all rock, by the way, thank you!), I’m in the process of moving “Ask Shelly” back here to the Travels with Baby blog, starting with this question from Stephanie, a mom planning travel to Paris with her 3-year-old and 18-month-old children. Since many of you have also traveled abroad with kids in this age range, and several of you have also spent time in Paris and/or France, please feel free to add your own tips in the comments below if you feel I’ve missed anything.   

Hi Shelly!
I’m going on holiday with my 3yr old & 18 month old sons to Paris… Am a bit worried about how we’ll juggle their normal routine with sightseeing… They always have a good daytime nap… Any advice?? Thanks 🙂

First, I’d like to applaud you for managing a regular nap routine at home with two toddlers! (Brava!) In Paris, I hope you will have a good double / twin travel stroller with seats that recline, if possible, so that they might both nap while you are sightseeing—and catch the zzz’s they need when they need them. One that folds compactly and can be carried through the Metro when needed will be ideal (like Maclaren Twin Triumph or Combi Twin, click here for more info). Inevitably, there will be jetlag, and on the off chance that you have to resort to taking them for a stroll in the night, you’ll be ready!

As for getting on the “new routine,” try to encourage fresh air, sunshine, and exercise in the mornings so they can kick-start their internal clocks in the new timezone, even if they need a small catnap before a picnic lunch of goodies gathered along Rue Cler. Encourage them to burn off their energy after breakfast running laps around the fountains at the Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxemburg, and laughing at the “Big Head” for pictures outside the Pompidou. There is also a nice playground for toddlers at the Place du Vosges in the Marais, and also in the Jardin du Luxemburg.

With the children feeling amused by Paris and physically free in the mornings, it should help you fit in some of the grown-up things you’d like to do while in the city in the afternoons. When they get sleepy eyes later on in the day, after the tour groups have made way through and lines are shorter, load them into the stroller and make way for Musee d’Orsay or L’Orangerie (at the Louvre you’ll even get a special grand open-top elevator entrance just for having a stroller—though the kids might not want to miss that!). 

The “mid-day lag” may also be the best time to plan train rides and ventures farther afield, so they are happier and more ready to recharge their batteries in transit, and be refreshed for the next adventure.

Also, know that as with sleeping schedules, their eating clocks may be off too, and meal-size hunger may not surface during the new meal times. So watch for their cues and stand ready to beat the blood sugar blues before they strike with a few favorite snacks on the go. Fitting in the daily calories during waking hours will also help them rest better and longer when it’s time to sleep.

If you have a question for me, feel free to post to the Travels with Baby page on Facebook or email me at Shelly at travelswithbaby dot com, with “Ask Shelly” in the subject line. 

I’m also pleased that I finally got a post together in time for “Mondays are for Dreaming” at the Mother of All Trips blog. Am I ever dreaming of being back in Paris this morning, where I could be sitting in a gorgeous park with a pain au chocolait watching the kids play this morning! If you’re dreaming of being somewhere else today (or any other Monday), join the dreamers with a blog post of your own.

Safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
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