It’s time to celebrate and enjoy the holidays with good friends and family.
As a parent, it’s sometimes hard to honour your children’s sleep needs and still enjoy all that the season has to offer. Here are some ideas, suggestions and information for you to consider.
1) Sleep is actually a BASIC need. Would you deny your child dinner in order to visit with Santa?
2) Will they remember it? Most people report being able to remember things from childhood around age 5, so why keep up a toddler?
3) The more infrequent staying up late it is, the more special that memory will be for your child.
4) When a child carries sleep debt, it is like a brick in a backpack. It weighs them down the next day and it simply unfair to expect them to eat well, behave well and to be at their optimal mood.
5) Children are the happiest in the mornings and it is natural for them to wake up between 6 am and 7 am. By keeping them up later, chances are they will not “sleep in” the next morning.
Knowing all this, what can you do?
1) Accept the invitations to the dinner parties but take your play pens and bedtime items with you! If the party is to start at 7pm ask your host if you can come a little earlier and put your little one to bed there! This will save on babysitting costs and if your little one has strong sleep skills like my clients do, they will fall asleep in spite of other kids staying up later and gregarious
voices and music playing. For your preschoolers and school age children, the same applies. You can keep them up an hour past their normal bedtime but please do not do it multiple days in a row. Wake them all up around 10:00 or 11:00 and trust that they can go back to sleep all on their own when you get home.
2) For your daytime nappers, yes, you can miss the odd nap for a special activity, but be prepared for an overtired infant or toddler when you get home that night. Use my early bedtime strategy and have your little ones in bed as early as 5:30 pm for the night if you need to. Be prepared for some tears for your infants and meltdowns from your toddlers and preschoolers
at bedtime. When a baby or child is overtired at bedtime, they cry more, wake more frequently through the night and often earlier the next morning.
3) Ask for an extra play pen from Santa to keep in your car so that your child can have naps at Grandma’s at your friend’s homes.
4) My personal favorite! CHANGE WHEN YOU ENTERTAIN! The best time to have people over is the MORNING! Heck, we are all up between 6 and 7, so have your guests come over in their Christmas Pajamas sometime between 7:30 or 8:00 am. They will walk in to the smells of coffee and bacon and the sounds of happy children playing. The night before when the kids are tucked in for the night at 7pm, you can prepare the meal in advance, clean the kitchen, tidy the house and even set the table! You can get so much accomplished in three hours while your kids are happily sleeping in their beds. Head to bed by 10pm yourself, so that you can get a solid 8 hours of sleep before your “sweet little human alarm clocks” wake you up the next morning. You can then put on the coffee, place your make ahead in the oven, place out the fresh fruit, cook the bacon and relax waiting for your guests to arrive in your nice clean house, immaculate kitchen and beautiful table all ready to go. The added bonus? Your children will have your undivided attention when they are awake – the best gift you can ever give to them.