The holiday season is here! We’ve got Hanukkah, Christmas and 2023 right around the corner! (How the heck did that happen?!) I love this time of year. It brings so many opportunities to make memories with family and celebrate. But it also brings lots of commitments, stress and events which can create some disruptions in sleep. Preserve your child’s sleep this holiday season with these tips!
First thing first, embrace it! But, also prepare!
I always recommend following an 80/20 rule. At least 80% of the time maintain your child’s sleep schedule (for both of your sanity) and about 20% of the time live a little. Family occasions and holiday events are definitely part of that 20%.
Don’t miss out on important holiday events because of a nap or bedtime. It’s ok to skip nap or go to bed late on occasion. Choose making memories!
If you know you have a special occasion coming up, one way to maintain your child’s sleep this holiday season is to be sure their sleep tank is full beforehand. Be strict with the schedule for a few days leading up to the event. Well rested kiddos are more flexible and recover more quickly when there are changes in the schedule.
Ways to Maintain the Balance
Nap on the Go
While a nap in the car (or stroller, carrier, etc) is not as restorative as a nap in the crib it’s definitely better than no nap. For babies taking two (or more) naps, it’s best to do the morning nap at home in the crib and then take the afternoon nap in the car. For your toddler taking one nap, the one nap in the car is fine.
If you have plans to be somewhere try timing the drive so your little one can nap on the way. You may have to drive around a bit to get them to doze off or keep driving so they can get a full hour of sleep. Time your drive accordingly.
I attempted this for my daughter’s first Thanksgiving when she was 8 months old and she refused to fall asleep on the way. My husband ended up putting her in the stroller and walking her for a half hour to get her to take a catnap…parent life during the holidays. Do what you gotta do.
Shorten the Bedtime Routine
If it’s going to be a late night, shorten the bedtime routine but don’t skip it altogether! Your bedtime routine is such an important time to connect and wind down so opt to shorten it. Do a wipe down or wash feet in the sink instead of a bath or read 2 books rather than 3. Let your child know beforehand you’ll be shortening the bedtime routine when you get home. Knowing what to expect will help them adapt.
If it’s super late and you think your kiddo will fall asleep on the car ride home consider getting them in their pajamas before leaving. Kids are in a deeper sleep during the first half of the night so it’s usually easy to transfer them from the car seat to their bed at this time.
Getting Back On Track
After those late nights and skipped naps, your child has definitely accumulated some sleep debt. Make sure you get sleep back on track quickly! It’s always easier to fix something that has been going on for a shorter amount of time.
Step 1: Stick to the Schedule
Go back to your strict nap and bedtime schedule. Make sleep the priority now. Offer naps in the crib and at the right times. Once your child is sleeping well again, you can be flexible.
Step 2: Use an Early Bedtime
Early bedtime is magic when kids are overtired. Tacking on an extra sleep cycle at the beginning of the night will curb the sleep debt but they won’t wake up any earlier. Use an early bedtime until your little one is sleeping well again. Then you can gradually shift back to your usual bedtime.
Step 3: Go Back to Your Sleep Plan
If sleep got really wonky, you may need to go back to your sleep plan and do some sleep coaching again. For toddlers and big kids reestablish sleep rules and expectations. They will be more successful if you are consistent with the boundaries you’ve set in place.
Wishing you have a beautiful and meaningful holiday season with lots of joyful memories! I hope these tips help you with your child sleep this holiday season without getting too far off track! If sleep is already a tough issue in your house, it’s best to get things on track before the busy holiday season. Book a complimentary Intro Call to chat with me and discover how I can help!
Owner, Pediatric Sleep Consultant & Parent Coach
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