The holiday season is such a fun, family-filled holiday. Along with the quality time spent with family and all the other special people in your life comes the worry about how all the busyness of the season will affect your little one. This is especially so when you consider the potential for missed naps, later bedtimes and just an overwhelming amount of activities for your little one. To survive the holiday season without lots of meltdowns and craziness the key is to go into it prioritizing sleep during the holiday season
Firstly, it is important to go into the holiday season ensuring your little ones are well-rested. If they are having sleep issues that are causing overtiredness, early wake-up and night wakings then now is the time to fix them. Ensuring your little ones are well-rested and able to put themselves to sleep, will make your holiday season 100x easier. Well-rested little ones will handle any short naps and later bedtimes more easily than those who are already struggling with their sleep.
If you will be traveling and staying outside your family home during the holiday season it is important to make sure that the place you are staying at has the things you need for a good night of sleep. Blackout blinds are especially important – so bring them with you if they don’t have them. You can even get creative and use trash bags and tape if need be. Children are sensitive to light and you definitely do not want them waking up super earlier because the sun is streaming in the windows!
Enjoy the holidays without overly stressing about your kids’ sleep schedules. When possible it is great to schedule events around naps and bedtimes, but we know this is not always possible. Try to only go off schedule approximately 20% of the time. When possible also compensate with some early bedtimes to help with the missed/short naps and later bedtimes. I often tell parents that naps on the go aren’t ideal because motion sleep (e.g. in strollers or cars) isn’t as restorative as sleeping in a crib or bed. During the holiday season, we have to be realistic though – it is better than no nap at all. If you don’t have access to a crib where you are, you can also put your little one down in the stroller and then stop moving it for the whole nap. This will be more restorative than walking around while your little one naps.
If you have a toddler or older child, it can be important to have a chat with them about the fact that the changes to routines and sleep environments are only for the holiday season. My 6 and 8-year-old often share a bed with each other or mom or dad during holidays, and we always make sure that they are aware they go straight back to the normal routine and sleep environment when they get back home.
When the holiday season is over, and you are back in your own home, do a sleep boot camp with your little one. Get straight back into their normal sleep routine. Offer up some early bedtimes to help them recover. Stay close to home for the first few days after the holiday so you can really follow the sleep routines and not be tempted to go off schedule. If you traveled across time zones and jet lag is an issue I have provided advice on how to handle that here.
Now that you have some good tips I’d like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season. Enjoy spending time with your loved ones! And if anything goes awry, I’m here to help get your sleep on track when you get back!