Christmas is a heady mix of children, chocolate, food, family, noisy toys, tipsy days and boozy nights. On top of this, someone has the pleasure of knocking up a Christmas lunch big enough to feed an army, someone else has the pleasure of washing it all up whilst the rest crash into a food coma on the sofa in front of the TV!
Whilst it’s great being away from the office and spending time with our loved ones, the season of excess can be stressful on so many levels.
My Christmas Sleep Survival Guide has easy, practical and non-preachy tips to help take the sleep stress out of Christmas. You can keep sleep on track and tears at bay, so that the whole family can have a Christmas to remember, for all the right reasons.
#1 Recreate the bedroom environment. If you’re staying away with friends or relatives, this can be really unsettling for babies who love routine and maybe a little unnerving for older ones too, so make their new sleeping area a home away from home. Pack a bag with their bed sheets, books, favourite toys and white noise etc to help them settle. More details on this one on my previous blog:
#2 Write a list of all the paraphernalia that you’re going to need to take with you, as we know that kids don’t travel light! I’m a list lover and as it’s Christmas I’m just giving, giving, giving so you can download my Christmas Travel Checklist.
#3 Late nights are an inevitable and fun part of the Christmas holidays for the young and old. Some late nights are fine, but make sure that those evenings are balanced with decent naps during the day and the following day otherwise they’re going to get overtired, grumpy and this is when the meltdowns can hit.
#4 Christmas in our family is mostly about consuming vast amounts of food and includes the obligatory stocking full of chocolates. Scoffing chocolate coins before breakfast is how I roll (not that I’m recommending this of course!) and I’m sure you’re kiddies will be tucking into the treats as well at some point. Just keep an eye on when they’re eating them and make sure it’s not too near to nap or bedtime. It will be impossible for them to wind down to sleep with all the sugar and caffeine (eek!) still whizzing around their bodies. Leave a minimum of 90-minute gap.
#5 The same principle goes for all of the loud stimulating toys and computer games that Father Christmas has delivered. Children of all ages need time to wind down from an activity before they go to sleep and the blue light emitted from the TV or devices is proven to interfere with the bodies melatonin (sleep hormone) production which can delay sleep onset and disrupt night sleep. Avoid these activities and switch off screens at least one hour before sleep.
#6 Get outside if you can, fresh air can stop you all climbing the walls. Let them practice on new trikes or bikes or burn off some energy and go for a walk. Mental and physical stimulation will get their bodies craving some rest.
#7 We know that children can understand a lot more than what they can say, even from a very early age. Prepare them for what is happening and where they’ll be sleeping if it’s away from home or if visitors will be coming to your home. Fussy or High Needs children are very particular about their routine so preparing them for some minor disruptions will help them feel at ease and avoid lots of tears and upset.
#8 Approach nap times with flexibility. If you’re travelling, try (if at all possible) to coincide nap times with car journeys.
Zero tears = zero stress
It will be difficult for some children to nap at home because of all the excitement and commotion so if there’s a secret weapon that always gets them off to sleep, now is the time to use it…buggy walks, car rides, carrying in the sling etc.
#9 Prepare your devices. Love them or hate them, iPads and tablets can entertain the little ones and take a huge amount of stress out of a journey. Make sure they are fully charged before you leave and that you’ve downloaded plenty of games or TV shows. You can download programmes on the iPlayer so that they can be viewed without needing any network service. You can also tether your iPad to your iPhone and use the data allowance for those emergencies when only Peppa Pig courtesy of YouTube will do.
#10 Enjoy Christmas!!! A late bedtime is not the end of the world and if they fight a nap don’t spend Christmas Day battling to get them down, take a leaf out of Elsa’s book and “let it go!”
If they do miss a nap, just make sure that you get them to bed earlier. A whole chocolate selection box, watching Disney films, being forced to eat brussel sprouts AND being tired is the recipe for one mother of early evening meltdown.
I hope these tips help your Christmas go smoothly and keep you away from the Baileys bottle so that you have loads of fun with your little ones.
Wishing you and your family a Cool Yule,
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