Regardless of whether you have plans to travel this Christmas or not, I understand that it's an incredibly thrilling time of year, especially for the children. After all, Christmas tends to revolve around them the most. However, amidst all the excitement, it's essential to consider the impact on their sleep. Excited toddlers may want to stay up later, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa leaving them hard to settle to sleep and a possible early waking the next morning...which let's get real here..it's inevitable really! Overtired children are all part of the Christmas holiday season however I have some tips and tricks than can help reduce the fallouts and make sleep all a little easier .
Additionally, if you're going away for a few nights, they might be sleeping in a new bedroom or sharing a room with others and you may be concerned about a new sleep space. But don't worry! Here are some simple tips to help you keep bedtimes on track during the holidays.
Knowledge is crucial!
Toddlers thrive when they know what is coming next, so take the time to discuss the upcoming holidays and your plans for a few nights away. Engage them in conversations about the travel day, how you will reach your holiday destination, and if possible, use a kids' atlas or maps to make it more interactive. Creating a countdown chart can also be a great idea, as they can mark off each passing day and see how the holidays are getting closer and closer!
Take the opportunity to show your children pictures of the place where you'll be staying. Visit the hotel's website, and if you have plans to explore specific areas, show them those websites too or previous holiday photos if this is a regular holiday destination! When your child can visualize where they are going, it enhances their understanding and anticipation of the upcoming experience!
Bring along familiar bedding
Yes, you got it right! Consider taking the same sheets your child has recently slept on and use them in the travel cot or on the hotel bed. This familiarity from home can make a significant difference. Just like adults, children can feel a bit uneasy when sleeping in a new room, and having the smell and textures they are accustomed to can be comforting.
Don't forget to pack their favorite sleep sack, white noise machine, and teddy too! To ease the transition, you can even practice a few nights of sleeping in the travel cot at home to build confidence in a different sleeping environment.
Don't forget to pack the clock!
Nobody enjoys early mornings, especially during holidays! Remember to pack either the Gro Clock or The Hatch (my personal favorite!). These devices can help maintain a consistent sleep schedule and prevent those unwanted early starts, allowing everyone to fully enjoy their holiday!
No need to worry!
During the holidays, sleep routines might become a bit irregular, and that's perfectly fine! Remember to stick to the bedtime routine as much as possible. Children appreciate knowing what comes next, and the bedtime routine offers a chance to unwind after a day of excitement. Consider reading a Christmas story and creating a relaxing atmosphere.
Keeping the routine consistent will make it familiar and comforting for them. Try to maintain a calm ambiance during this time and avoid the whole family crowding into the bathroom or on the bed for stories. Let the bedtime routine be a peaceful moment for winding down and finding tranquility.
Of course there may be days when you are a little late home and you can maybe skip the bath but do try to have a calm 10-15 minutes in your child’s bedroom winding down.
As long as you have your bedtime time boundaries in place when you return home then sleep will return to how it was before you left! And of course...Santa's Little Elves are always watching...!
Planning a car ride to your holiday destination?
Consider starting the day with a wholesome breakfast and engaging in some outdoor fun to stretch those legs and breathe in fresh air. Once everyone is energized, hop into the car during nap times to make the journey less stressful and quieter for everyone. Remember, a nap on the road won't disrupt your routine entirely. Do try to wake your baby at the usual time they would wake up to keep to schedule if that works for you.
Don't forget to pack a variety of snacks for the trip! A bento box filled with options like dried fruit, energy balls, mini sausages or meatballs, and other finger foods is perfect for car journeys. These things are filling and mess free!
Bed time is here!
It's important to avoid overly stimulating and exciting activities just before bedtime to ensure a smoother bedtime routine for your child. When children get super excited, they might resist going to sleep and have a harder time winding down. This can lead to tears and add stress and frustration to everyone involved in the process.
During the day, if things become overwhelming and overly exciting for your child, consider taking them out for a walk, putting them in a sling, and taking a breather together. Giving them some downtime away from all the excitement and chaos will help them relax and recharge.
Avoid giving children sweet treats and chocolate coins (who doesn't have chocolate coins in their house at Christmas?!) at least 1.5-2 hours before bedtime. Sugar highs before sleep can lead to an unpleasant crash. If they feel hungry before bedtime, consider offering healthier alternatives like leftover turkey (which contains tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid), nut butter on wholemeal toast, or banana slices. These options will be more beneficial for a restful night's sleep.
Help! Naps have gone off track...
If naps go off track for a couple of days, don't worry too much. Stay calm and remember to offer regular feeds and snacks to maintain some level of consistency if that works for you.
The routine you had before going on holiday will still be there, even if you've had a few days off track. Try to get back into the routine after coming back from your holidays. If there was no routine before, consider starting one in the new year. If you're feeling overwhelmed or unsure about where to start, don't hesitate to seek help. You can find useful information on my blog page, and I'm here to chat if you need support.
Remember, it's essential to do what works best for you and your family, not just following what worked for others say and do perhaps like granny..! Reduce stress by taking a walk in the fresh air or finding a quiet corner to enjoy some "you time" with a cup of tea and a treat. Take a moment to breathe and relax.
I wish you all the happiest, calmest of holidays,
Peaceful nights to you all, and I hope Santa is good to you!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
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