What are some things I can do to help my children sleep around the holidays?
It is so common for children to have sleep disruptions during the holiday period! Evening events, traveling, spending time with extended family, and excitement of the season can all contribute to inconsistent schedules and trouble sleeping.
The best way to keep sleep on track is to protect sleep time – do your child’s normal bedtime routine and try to keep bed time and wake times the same as usual. Of course, this is not always possible or feasible and families should do whatever is needed to enjoy this time. It is completely okay to relax sleep rules to allow for family fun! Just try to not relax the rules completely for more than two nights in a row, or else everyone may end up exhausted (and cranky).
As soon as the special circumstances are over, the rules should return to normal. Parents can expect a night or two when their child may test these limits once the holidays are over; with consistency, sleep should quickly return to a pre-holiday normal. Although supporting bedtime rules and limits might look a little different for an infant versus a toddler or preschooler, children of all ages can test those limits in their own ways.
It is rarely a good idea to begin behavioral strategies to improve sleep during the holiday period. Parents should plan for at least three nights of being able to be consistent when beginning a strategy, especially as behavior often gets worse before getting better. If consistency is not possible during the holiday or new year season, it is best to wait until the holidays are over before starting new strategies.