Navigating Sleep in the Silly Season
It’s coming! Can you believe another silly season is fast approaching?!
It can be a little daunting – especially if you’re trying to keep your little ones to their sleep schedules, but don’t worry – we've put together a number of pointers to help navigate your little ones sleep during the silly season, including how to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve.
Avoid sleep disruptions by not overbooking yourselves
Firstly, try not to overschedule where you don’t need to. Don’t be afraid to hold boundaries around your little ones’ sleep and well-being. It’s okay to prioritise certain gatherings and say no to others, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or stretched. If you commit to events one day, then the next day try to be home at least for their first nap or main nap of the day.
Is there a catch up that you could host at home or plan so that it works better for you? Sometimes it's easier to get in first with a plan that works best for your family. For example, if you know evenings are tricky, could you plan a picnic lunch on a weekend where everyone brings their own little picnic?
Is the overwhelm of too many Christmas season events impacting your toddler? Be mindful that our toddlers won’t usually communicate by saying things like “I feel exhausted or overwhelmed," “I would love a day to just be at home,” or “We are always rushing”. Instead, you may start to notice big emotions, tricky bedtimes, pushback and/or irritability. Rather than squashing the “behaviour”, it’s important to address the cause.
Remember: there will be events, inopportune schedules and other things you can’t avoid during the holidays, and that’s okay. Embrace that time, try to enjoy it and not over think the schedule too much. Our main aim is to make sure your babe gets their much-needed sleep whilst out and about however you can. It may be in the form of a contact nap, or a portable crib or stroller sleep. Really, whatever safely works is fine.
How can we maximise our kids’ sleep when we are on the go?
- Use a portable white noise machine to help minimise noise disruptions and act as a sleep cue if they normally use it at home
- Bring their comforter if they use one
- Consider a car nap. If your little one is in the car, you can let them fall asleep if they will get the chance to have a good sleep; but if you don’t have sufficient time, then I would keep bub awake until a better sleep is possible. As an example, if you have the choice between letting your child nap during a 10- minute drive or a longer sleep at your destination, then I would keep your babe awake until they can have a longer sleep.
Try to avoid overtiredness where possible. It may be that you offer a longer contact nap, an extra nap or an earlier bedtime after big days. If your child has had a later night and less sleep overall, they may benefit from less awake time before nap #1 the next day. If you have a toddler who no longer naps, you might let them have a nap but still keep their bedtime at normal time.
How to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve
Now for the big question: how to get my kids to sleep on Christmas eve, the most exciting night of the year for our big babes? Try to embrace the excitement and go with it a little. Allow for plenty of time at home before bed to get all of the excitement out. Time outdoors will encourage melatonin and their circadian rhythm to kick in, making bedtime a little easier - and be mindful of things that may cause a second wind right before bedtime.
Wishing you a merry and hopefully somewhat restful silly season.
Tara Mitchell is a former paediatric nurse of 15 years and is now a leading Sleep Consultant, helping families through the challenges of sleep. Struggling with her own personal experience with a sleepless child, Tara began the Gentle Sleep Specialist to help other parents on their sleep journey.