5 Tips for Keeping Children Well-Rested During the Holidays
With the holiday season upon us, many parents begin to wonder how to keep their kids (and therefore themselves) well-rested and happy amidst travel, family suppers and late nights. Joleen Dilk Salyn, certified pediatric sleep consultant, and founder of Baby Sleep 101, offers the following 5 tips to manage the holiday season while respecting children's sleep routines.
1. Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
Whether you're heading to a family dinner or travelling across time zones, preparing ahead of time how the holiday events may impact your child's sleep is key for success. If Uncle Joe's Christmas dinner is just starting when your child's bedtime routine begins, concessions can be planned that accommodate both. Planning, preparing and troubleshooting ahead of time will help you to prepare for potential missed sleep and minimize stress for the whole family.
2. Keep the Consistency
As best as you can, maintain your child's regular routine thoughout the holidays. It can be challenging, especially when away from home, but a child will feel better and enjoy themselves more if their regular routine is still being maintained. A well-rested child will be able to handle a too-late bedtime and recuperate from it quicker, than a child who has no consistency from day to day.
3. Find A Balance
It can be tempting to get off track with children during the Christmas season as our social calendar fills up. It can be a time when we reconnect with out of town friends and family, attend various dinner parties and plan special outings. However, it's important to balance the festivities with what is best for the child as too many disruptions or missed sleep will result in a tired and grumpy baby or toddler. Some occasions may be attended by the whole family, but other situations may be more suitable for just the grown ups, with the children staying home with a babysitter. If it's very important that the whole family attends, coming for a few hours and leaving at bedtime, or even one parent leaving with the children in tow, are great compromises.
4. Don't Nix the Naps
The majority of children under the age of three still need a nap during the daytime. Even young school aged children can sometimes benefit from hitting the hay while the sun is up. The extra travel, excitement and family functions can take their toll on a child's body, making the need for a nap extremely important. And regardless what other family members say, a child will not sleep better at night if they skip a nap. In fact, the opposite is true and the child will become overtired and sleep fitfully at night, perhaps even waking up and crying.
5. Back to Basics
Once you're home from your travels or the festivities have ended, it's time to get back on track with your child's regular routine. Control their wake up time and reinstitute regular naps for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Children will be overtired from the extra fun, so bringing their bedtime up 30-40 minutes earlier for about a week will help them to maximize the amount of deep sleep their body can take and help them to wake up feeling refreshed.
By following these simple guidelines, your little one will be happy, healthy and well-rested throughout the holiday season!
Joleen Dilk Salyn is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Baby Sleep 101.