The holidays can be an exciting time for family togetherness and well-deserved indulgence. But the holidays can also mean plenty of chores, lots of home prep for incoming family and, consequently, not a whole lot of sleep. For kids, less quality sleep can lead to temper tantrums and difficulty coping with unfamiliar family and friends. So how can you help your kids stay rested and happy during the winter holidays? Check out these 6 parent-tested and approved tips for helping children stay rested this month.
Build in down time.
It’s tempting to let your toddler or child play with grandparents, aunts and uncles until they collapse on the floor. But just like it's important for parents, some schedule downtime will help your kids stay rested and perky during times they are with family. Watch for signs that your little one might need a break—irritability, dizziness or more emotional outbursts than usual are usually good indicators that your tot needs a time out. Whether it’s nap time or bedtime, excuse yourself and create a bit of quiet time for your child – you’ll benefit from some downtime, too!
Share your bed.
If you’re tried everything you usually do to help your child fall asleep to no avail, the problem might be the unfamiliar hotel or guest room. Consider bending the usual independent sleeping rules. First, move the crib or child’s bed as close to you and your bed as possible. If that doesn’t work, letting the child sleep with you for some added comfort and familiarity.
Live in the new time zone.
If you’ve flown across country, open the window shades before you go to bed. Let your child wake up with the sun. Do the same thing when you return home. Let the light and dark set your child’s internal clock.
Moderation is key.
Rich, heavy food may lead to stomach discomfort in children. Let them enjoy the holiday favorites but make sure the portions are reasonable. Skip the soda or any other drink with caffeine that may add to keeping your child awake.
Maintain a regular nap routine.
If your child or toddler is still taking a regular nap, try to create a holiday routine that includes a nap around the same time as they are used to. Take time to settle your child down. Read a story or even lie down with the child to settle them into their routine nap time. If your child doesn’t usually nap, but has an especially late or restless night, don’t try to make up for the lost sleep with a nap. You may just perpetuate a cycle of difficulty sleeping at night. If your child just can’t make it through the day, keep the out-of-routine nap to an hour and make sure it’s at least 3 hours away from bedtime.
Make a smooth transition.
Eventually the holidays will end and you’ll return home to your normal work schedule. If your child is in preschool, daycare or elementary school, make sure you return home in time to give your child a day or two of normalcy before he returns to the old routine. Keep the days before you return as low key and restful as possible.
The holidays are fun, exciting – and tiring. And, that’s just as true for you as it is for your children. Make sure the whole family is sleeping on quality beds that help everyone stay rested and full of the holiday spirit!