Santa’s elves are busily working away and the Reindeer’s are prepping for their journey across the globe, a distant jingle can be heard if you listen closely enough!
The most wonderful time of the year is approaching and yet it can often fill people with dread in regards to their child’s sleep. How will we maintain a routine? How will we visit everybody without sacrificing naps? Will it be sleepless nights for the whole festive period?
Festive day’s out as a family are the days we dream of. Mulled wine, Christmas markets, seeing Santa, visiting family, train rides, Christmas lights (the list is endless). It’s really easy to overschedule and not only can this lead to the whole family being exhausted, it can also blemish the memories you do want to make over the Christmas time. Our advice is to look at your schedule and try to not do too much. Remember, you have years to do all of these fun events and it can be nice to spread it out. If you are booking days out, consider the times. Is your little one fresher in the morning? Need more stimulation in the afternoons? Do they have longer wake windows in the morning? When is their usual longest nap? Try and work around day sleep where you can, and I guarantee the day will be more enjoyable with a baby or toddler who has had their usual day sleep and isn’t too cranky, meaning they get the most from the experience. Prioritize at least one nap a day to be in the usual routine and sleep space.
It isn’t uncommon to have to travel to see family and friends around Christmas time. It is usually easiest to travel over the longest nap, whether this be in the morning or the afternoon nap, and it always makes the journey more peaceful if your little one can sleep for the majority of the trip. If they’ve had a nap in the car/pushchair/sling for a journey then try and make the next nap in the cot/bed so that you maintain that skill.
Try and stick to your usual bedtime routine (or a very close version of it). The routine is key in helping your little one wind down and know what is going to be happening (after all they can’t tell the time and rely on these cues to know what is going to happen next). A routine does not need to be very long (20-30 mins maximum) and usually consists of a feed/snack, bath or wash, story/massage/song, into PJ’s and then into their cot or bed. Stick to this as much as you can and while it’s lovely when other family members get involved it can often be too stimulating for your little one and sometimes they just need the 1:1 connection with a parent. You could take some familiar books with you, or familiar bath toys etc to make it easier on your little one.
Talk to the people you might be staying with and set the expectations. Tell them that sleep is important to you and that you will need to stick to a modified routine or schedule and that it is just a compromise you have to make at the moment. Making this clear from the start can avoid any awkward conversations in the moment when they are trying to plan meals/trips out which don’t fit in with your schedule. While we don’t expect the whole family party to adjust to the baby’s schedule, it just means you might occasionally skip an event or meal to ensure your baby and yourself get the rest you need.
All this being said, some flexibility is going to be nice and allow you to enjoy Christmas. Where you can, stick to the routine and scheduling but the occasional change won’t have a huge impact as long as you get back on your routine or schedule for the next sleep. Have the occasional late night or nap on the go and enjoy this time with the people you love.