By Renee Wasserman
How can it be that the holidays are already around the corner? Didn’t we just get our children sleeping well after the time change and now it is time for late nights of celebrating with families and friends? Is it even possible to keep our kids well rested amidst travel, family dinners, new sleep environments and challenging schedules? With patience, flexibility, and consistency, anything is possible! Here are some tips to keep your little ones well rested and still enjoy the holiday season.
- Don’t forget the trash bags! (and lovey, sound machine, etc.)
- If you aren’t going to be in your own home for the holidays, be sure to bring along everything to keep the sleep environment as similar to home as possible. Don’t forget the lovey, a sound machine to muffle out the noises of other people in the home, a monitor, if necessary, and black trash bags to make any room cave-like dark.
- Prioritize naps
- If you know your children will be up later than usual, make every effort to keep them well rested during the day. Make naps a priority so that they can better handle the later nights.
- If your little ones miss an occasional nap, there is no need to be concerned. After all, it is the holidays and we want to enjoy our time with friends and family. That being said, missing a nap should be an exception to the rule and not an every day occurrence.
- If you do need to miss a nap, plan your day so that you can make sure your little ones get to bed for the night on the early side.
- Plan ahead
- Children will enjoy this time more if their usual routine and schedule is followed even during the holidays. Remember that well-rested children can handle an occasional change to their schedule whether that is a missed nap or a later bedtime much better than children who are already overtired.
- Have you overscheduled your little ones and planned too many late nights in a row? Too many days with naps that are on the go or not taken at all? Watch for signs that your children might need a break. It is a good idea to look ahead and make sure to schedule enough down time to keep your kids well rested.
- Always be prepared. Keep pajamas with you in case you are out later than expected and have extra snacks available at all times.
- If an event can be skipped by the kids, consider leaving them at home. A sitter will be able to get your little ones to bed on time and you will enjoy a night out without kids in tow!
- Don’t worry what others think
- If you know that your children do better going to bed at an earlier time, don’t feel badly doing what is best for them. It is hard to stand up to the pressure of relatives whose sleep philosophies are different than your own. Always remember that you are your children’s best advocate and you know what works well for them.
- Stay consistent
- Kids thrive on consistency and structure so the more you can stick to the sleep schedule that you know works well, the better off your little ones will be.
- Enjoy the moment
- At the end of the day, do your best to keep your children well rested, be patient with them when they are tired, and try as much as possible to go with the flow. Enjoy celebrating the holidays with family and friends and make the breaks from routine special instead of stressful.
- Back to basics
- No doubt your kids (and you!) will be exhausted once the holidays are over. When your family and friends have left and the holidays are behind you, get back to what you know works. Early bedtimes for a few days are a great way to help your kids become well rested once again.
Wishing you all a happy and restful holiday season!
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You can find out more information at www.sleepyheadsolutions.comand www.facebook.com/sleepyheadsolutions