The plan was for a family trip to Disney World. Our son has been a few times and is getting to enjoy it more and more with each visit. We had fairly high, but tempered, expectations for the weekend.
This weekend, however, we bit off a bit more than we could chew. In addition to the three of us, we also brought our two dogs (no one was around to watch them). Turned out that the dogs were actual the least of our problems. Our son does not like cars but we planned the trip around his breakfast and nap schedule so he would be entertained and then (hopefully) get some rest. He ate. He napped for about 20 minutes. The duration of the car ride was screaming and yelling and trying to climb out of his car seat (new one for us). Not a good start.
We arrived and had lunch, then it was nap time. He was not in the mood for that either. Screamed bloody murder for what seemed like an eternity. Took him to the children's play area where he had a blast tearing the place apart. Then to dinner and bedtime for him. We were in need of him to go to sleep as much as he needed the rest himself. He fights a bit but then goes down. Until he decides at 2:00 am that he is no longer interested in sleeping. We thought maybe something scared him or he had a code brown in his diaper. An hour plus later and the result is our son sleeping on me for the remainder of the evening. 6:00 am rolls around and, like clockwork, he is up and ready to go. We made it to breakfast, somehow, then got our act in gear and off to the park. Where he promptly falls asleep for 2.5 hours. Clearly he was exhausted and in need of rest.
The reason I recounted some of our trip, was to reinforce my message - your day/week/life should revolve around your child's sleep schedule. It may not always work the way you hope (like in our case), but it is important to try and maintain the schedule and the structure. Our son was back in his routine when we came home (morning nap, afternoon nap) and he slept through the night for the most part. He woke up happy and smiling.
A lot of parents tell my wife and I to just wake him up. We refuse. If he sleeps through an event or an appointment, so be it. We can make it up or sort out the issue. It may not always work the way we hope, but we will continue keeping his structured schedule. Obviously this will be modified as he grows and gets older, but its importance will not. .