Even as an adult, when I first hear The Michael Bublé Christmas Album and see a Christmas tree, I become like a kid in a candy store! There’s no denying that Christmas is a very exciting time and all this excitement can lead to disturbed sleep, especially for children.
You might not see it coming and find that your previous great sleeper is not battling every bedtime and waking at 5am every morning.
So here are my top tips to be able to enjoy the Christmas period while still getting good sleep:
Try to maintain a sense of calm in the lead up to Christmas
Whether your little one is at school, nursery or at home with you, there is an extra level of busyness around us all. This year may be slightly different as we’re most likely unable to attend nativity plays or big festive activities (thanks Corona!), but there is still shopping to do and the general busy vibe that us adults tend to give off. And all of this can contribute to your children’s tiredness. Sometimes you may just have to say no to an event if it’s going to be too late for your child.
Avoid allowing bedtime to get later
There’s a lot going on in December and the evenings are dark so early so it’s easy to lose track of time. It only takes one or two late nights to throw a child’s sleep off for a week or more (remember the struggle of clock changes!). So try to keep an eye on the time and stick to your normal bedtime routine as much as possible. Don’t bend the rules
If you’re not used to sleep disturbances anymore and suddenly find yourself with a visitor in the night or early morning, try not to take the option of allowing them in if you normally don’t allow this. Stick to your usual rules or you may find some new, unwanted habits creep in which could perpetuate the tiredness for everyone.
Fill up the sleep tank
Remember, it is usually overtiredness that causes most sleep challenges. Later bedtimes, busy days, lots of stimulating activities and less down-time are all common in the lead up to Christmas and all contribute to overtiredness. You will likely then see your child’s ‘second wind’ which will then cause bedtime battle, disturbed nights and/or early wakeups.
So try to ensure your little one sticks to their nap schedule and has plenty of calm time. Catch-up naps can be a very handy backup plan and early nights will help too.
Christmas Eve calm
We can all turn into big kids at Christmas but too much hype may unsettle your child. You can still enjoy the excitement without overwhelming or exhausting your little one. Have some winddown time for an hour before bedtime rather than expect them to go from full-blown excitement to settling to sleep straight away. This is like you attending your favourite band in concert and then made to go to bed and fall asleep within 10 minutes! This is especially important on Christmas Eve. You’ll have a much happier child on your hands on Christmas Day if they’re well rested.
The most important thing is to enjoy your time with your little ones. It has been a very strange year and for lots of you, this will be your child’s first Christmas. It’s so easy to get caught up in the catering and shopping and making sure everything is just right. But all your child wants is your presence (and some presents!). Be sure to take the time to soak up the joy and excitement on their faces and truly remember the memories you’re making with them.