Planning for the Best [Sleep] this Holiday Season


Holiday Sleep
Regardless of how your family is celebrating this year, sleep could be affected. You may be traveling to see friends and family, maybe you are hosting a holiday this year. Perhaps, you are staying home or having a ZOOM holiday. However you slice it, you might have some changes to your schedule for a day or for several days. So, how do we help our children work through the holiday sleep disruptions?

Keeping to Routine

To keep the peace, try to stay as close to your child’s schedule as possible. Maybe a nap gets skipped or pushed a little early or a little late. But if possible, keep times close to normal. The most important part to help with sleep is to keep the routines the same. Whatever ritual you have for before nap and before bed should be the same (or as close as possible). Do not try to rush a bedtime routine or skip parts that your child might need to help wind down or signal to them it’s time for sleep.

Create a Portable Sleep Space

This might just be for one nap or for several days of sleep depending on where and how you are celebrating. But even if you just need to cover one nap at Cousin Sue’s house, make sure you bring some essentials. What exactly you need will depend on the age of your child, but consider a white noise machine, a pack-n-play or travel cot, and something to black out the space (like a SlumberPod or RediShades). If you are spending several days away check out my tips on sleep while traveling.

Consider Hosting

This is definitely not an option for all, especially if it adds more stress to the holiday. But if you have an infant or a toddler who is not flexible, hosting allows you to keep to their schedule and keep them in their own familiar sleep space.

It’s Okay to Say No

You don’t have to be afraid to say no. You need to be able to do what is best for your family. And if that means you can’t go to Uncle Johnny’s for dinner because it doesn’t start until after your child’s bedtime, so be it. Maybe it means saying no to hosting because it will cause too much chaos for your little ones (or you – never forget about your needs!).

Remember that you know your child best. Some kids are more flexible than others. Infants tend to be less flexible (think of the need for multiple naps), where toddlers and preschoolers tend to be more flexible with a skipped nap or late bedtime. You don’t want them to miss out on special memories with the family, but you also don’t want to spend days getting back on track or spending the whole holiday stressed and overtired. Do what feels right and works for your child’s temperament and sleep needs.


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