I love the holidays and all of the excitement, traditions, family gatherings, and ALL of the delicious foods they bring. Family gatherings and travel are great, but can be a little tricky with babies, toddlers, and big kids, especially in managing their sleep. I highly recommend taking some time to consider how you can best manage your child’s sleep during the holidays so you can feel emotionally prepared, have realistic expectations, and a logistical plan of attack.
Here are 5 tips to help you best manage your child’s sleep over the holidays.
ONE. Fill those sleep tanks first!
When we know there is something coming up that may very well lead to missed or poor sleep, it’s very very wise to make sure our kids are going into these events with a full sleep tank.
The goal is for them to be so baseline well rested that missing one or two naps or having a way too late bedtime will truly be no big deal at all. Yes, they may be a little extra clingy or cranky when sleep is missed, but we won’t be expecting meltdowns or lasting sleep issues, because most of the time they are getting the high quality sleep their little brains need.
The more sleep they are able to get before the holidays make sleep messy, the more adaptable they mill be, and the faster they will recover.
TWO. Work around sleep when able!
Prioritize age appropriate nap times and bedtimes within reason. Some children are more sensitive sleepers than others, and if you know that missing a nap or having a too late bedtime is going to cause more trouble than it’s worth to you, then advocate for your family and prioritize your child’s sleep.
This can look a few different ways. You might arrive a little later to an event, or leave earlier than you normally might in order to protect high quality sleep.
THREE. Communicate with the host!
Don’t be afraid to ask your host in advance if there is a spare room you can use for your little one’s slumber. Most people are happy to accommodate a little sleeper if space allows. Ask if there is room for a pack n play, and hey, maybe they even have one already that you can borrow.
FOUR. Be prepared for high quality sleep!
If you are going to nap your child in a different location, be prepared to make it a good nap! First and foremost, pack something to darken the sleep environment. That might be a Slumberpod, Sleep Out curtains, or some black trash bags with painter’s tape to block as much light as possible. Bring a portable white noise machine. Bring your child’s security item, such as a pacifier or lovey. Lastly, consider bringing a baby monitor as well. This way you will know when they are ready to join the party again - all warm, snuggly, and well rested!
FIVE. Have realistic expectations!
Increased excitement, different people, places and foods, and activities in general that stray from the usual routine are often weaved in throughout the whole holiday season. These are all reasons for sleep to be somewhat disrupted in even our strongest sleepers. Add missed naps and late bedtimes to the mix and it’s reasonable to expect that there may be some imperfect nights and naps in your near future. After all, children are humans and not robots.
Minor and temporary sleep disruptions are to be expected, and not a big deal at all when you are coming from a place of baseline well rested, and know how to reset after the storm.
If sleep does become a struggle during or following the holidays, take the time to reset and work with your child to recover their strong sleep skills and healthy sleep habits. Here is a reminder for how to reset sleep by following my top 5 healthy sleep tips for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
If your child was never a strong sleeper to begin with and you’re concerned that Holiday mayhem might make matters worse, consider scheduling a free 15 minute discovery call to learn how I can support you in teaching your baby, toddler, or preschooler sustainable healthy sleep habits that will benefit the whole family.
Happy Holidays and Happy Sleeping!