Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Holidays cause chaos and upheaval in everyone’s daily routine and family life. Add in trying to accommodate your normal sleep routine with the hustle and bustle of the
holidays, and your stress level will be at an all time high, while your energy level will be at an all time low.
I’m a mom with 3 kids, and I have struggled with the same issues as you. Over
scheduled, sleep deprived children lead to meltdowns and grumpy behavior. Family
visits during the holidays may run late, making it difficult to get your children to sleep on time. And trying to put your little ones to sleep in an unfamiliar room is a big challenge. But, with just a few simple tips, it is possible to still have a great holiday with friends and family and have well-rested kids, while keeping your stress level low.
You Don’t Have to Be a Prisoner to The Routine
but remember, consistency is key
If you are able to get your child on a healthy sleep routine before the chaos of the
holiday season begins, you will be able to successfully adapt your normal schedule while visiting family and friends.
Everyone knows, the holidays are prime time for disruptions to daily life. Do your best to maintain your child’s regular schedule as much as possible. Since you know that your children thrive on their daily routines, keeping to a consistent schedule can help
counteract the over-stimulation and sensory overload of this time of year. Wake up at the same time every day, keep your meal and nap schedule consistent, and try not to let bedtime get too late.
You will find that if your child is getting his basic necessary sleep on a regular basis, the occasional missed nap or later bedtime won’t have too much of a negative effect on him.
So, a few weeks before the holidays begin, start to establish a healthy sleep routine for your whole family.
Tip! Hold off on sleep training if you haven’t started yet. Because consistency is so
important with any sleep plan, it’s best to start this process after the holidays. Once things have settled down and you’re back at home, you can get started on your healthy sleep routine.
Bring Their Sleep Environment To-Go
When planning a trip or even just an afternoon out, packing the comforts of home will help your child settle more easily in an unfamiliar location, whether it is during nap time or overnight. If you can, pack a few reminders from their room, such as their white noise machine*, crib sheet, and their favorite lovey. (*If space is an issue, you can download the White Noise app on your phone and use that instead of packing the actual machine).
These reminders of home will make the transition to their new sleep space less
stressful, and will help your child settle down more easily for naps and bedtime and let you keep to your daily routine.
Tip! Practice your bedtime routine wherever you are and whenever you can. Doing the same routine every time you put your child down for a nap and to bed, will help prepare your child for sleep, no matter where you are.
Respect Your Child’s Need for Quiet Space and Sleep
Keep things simple with your baby and toddler
Have fun but don’t overdo it. You don’t have to go to every holiday party and gift
exchange. It’s perfectly ok to decline some invitations, especially if you have been
running at full steam for a while. Young children can easily get overwhelmed and
overtired with too many activities, causing night wakings and short naps. It’s important to plan for some “down time” whether you’re visiting relatives, traveling, or even just staying home. This will lead to longer, deeper and more restorative sleep and happy children.
But, when you do go on an adventure, be sure to pack your essentials (see above) and remember, naptime is naptime wherever you are.
It is important to respect your child’s need to sleep; try not to skip naps and keep
bedtime as close to normal as possible. If you can schedule visits and events around naptime, and try to get your family to bed on time, you will be much happier and less stressed.
Holiday time is also a great time to take advantage of being with family and friends who want to help with your baby. If grandparents want to play longer with the baby, but it is getting close to bedtime, ask Grandma and Grandpa to start your bedtime routine and put your baby to sleep. They will happily read a book (or two or three) and sing a
favorite song. Use this time away from your baby to visit with other family members you haven’t seen since you have arrived.
Keep in mind that when your baby and toddler get too overtired, you will probably
experience struggles at bedtime and numerous wakings throughout the night. You may also experience more temper tantrums and crankiness during the day.
If this can all be avoided by keeping to nap schedules and bedtimes, isn’t it worth it? Also, keep in mind that a bedtime more than 30 minutes later than usual will create a sleep deprivation, especially if it happens a few days in a row.
So, in order for your child to sleep well, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep also, consider how much sleep your child needs and work around their nap schedule and bedtime. If you’re not sure how much sleep your baby or toddler should be getting, click here for a Sleep Guide Chart.
Have Fun and Celebrate!
Have a great holiday with your family and friends and don’t stress about every single sleep rule. Even if new habits get picked up, know that when the holidays are over and your day-to-day goes back to normal, you can get back on track and focus on healthy sleep routines again.
If after a week of being home, your child is still struggling to get back
into his healthy sleep routine or has behavior challenges,
Sweet Dreams! 😴 👶