Sleep tips for the Christmas silly season
Would some sleep tips for the Christmas silly season help you out? I think it’s fair to say the silly season is definitely upon us! Things can get a bit crazy during this time of year, and you may be wondering how you’ll survive without tantrums and meltdowns (I certainly melt down when I start feeling hot, stressed and pressured). So here are eight top tips to help ensure your child’s sleep at least, is cherished during this hectic Christmas time of year:
1. CHERISH BEDTIME ROUTINES
Children, especially toddlers, feel more secure with routines. Routines let them know where they’re up to in the day and what’s expected of them. When you’re busy and getting home later than normal around Christmas activities, it’s very tempting to skip the bedtime routine. However, this could lead to more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re pressured for time you can shorten the routine (skip a step or two, or only read one book) but don’t forgo the routine all together!
2. AVOID OVER-STIMULATION BEFORE BED
If you’ve been rushing around during the day, you’ll want to give your child as much time as possible to wind down in the evening, not hype them up more. Watch those Christmas treats too. As much as possible, try to limit sugary foods and drinks before bed (if they’re hungry, a banana makes a good pre-sleep snack). And have a no-screen rule for at least an hour before bed (trust me; screen time will stimulate the wake cycle). The silly season is a great time to start some quiet family traditions that don’t require late nights. Read a Christmas book together, draw a picture for family (or Santa) or play some of those old fashioned (age-appropriate) board games. Any form of quiet play is good.
3. CONSIDER A BABYSITTER
It’s no fun taking a young child along to a Christmas social occasion if you don’t think they’re going to settle well. Instead, consider using a babysitter who can stay home and continue your routine. We all sleep better in our own beds. You’ll get to enjoy some childfree time, and you won’t have to worry about them missing out on sleep!
4. TRAVEL DURING SLEEP TIMES
If you’re travelling this Christmas silly season, do so during nap time or at night to help preserve sleep. Make sure you take along any comfort item your child uses at sleep time. Having their own blanket or favourite soft toy will help them settle in the car, plane or train too.
5. RECREATE THE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
If there are changes to the sleeping arrangements, either because you have people staying or you’re away from home, try and recreate your child’s sleep environment as much as possible. Make sure they have their own pillow, favourite sleep toy or blanket (and don’t forget the brolly sheet if you use one). If your child is sharing a room with you (when they normally wouldn’t), try and create a separate zone for them. Use a portacot, toddler bed or separate mattress behind a screen or chair, or in an alcove (be creative). This helps you and your child have some separate space if you need it.
White noise and black-out blinds can help shield unfamiliar sounds and unwelcome light too.
6. PACK HEALTHY SNACKS
If bedtime or nap time is going to be delayed, have some healthy snacks with you. Fruit sugars (fruit, dried fruit or fruit purees) are great to help keep energy levels up (yours and theirs). Alternatively have some easy healthy finger foods on hand to eat on the go. Be prepared BEFORE you need them; this will save you a lot of stress this Christmas.
7. CREATE CALM
Young babies in particular can get over stimulated very quickly with everything going on in the lead up to Christmas (but so can any child at their limit). When you’re out and about in busy places like shopping malls, or your other children’s activities, try and shield your baby from all that’s going on. If they are young enough you can use a safe cover over their pram so they can play with a few safe toys in this zone. Please be mindful of this though – it’s far too hot to cover a pram with anything but an approved cover that helps the air circulate. You certainly don’t want your baby to overheat! And do limit your time out with a young child if at all possible.
9. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
If you have a new baby, or your child is now at an age to get excited about Christmas, consider which activities are REALLY suitable for their age. If your child is normally asleep by 9pm at night, keeping them up late to see the Christmas lights (at least without an extra nap) is possibly not the right Christmas activity for this year. Try and find some activities that fit around naps and bedtimes. This will also leave something new and special for when they’re old enough to enjoy it without missing out on too much sleep.
Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!