How to help you and your children sleep well over Christmas.
It’s the count down to Christmas and while your children maybe excited by Santa and what gifts he will bring, you know that Christmas can mean a lot less sleep for all.
It can be hard to avoid your little ones getting over excited and over tired and the overnight stays with family and friends could spell sleep disasters.
The good news is there are simple steps you can take to limit the tears and tantrums for all!
Mandy Gurney lets you into her bedtime secrets for a sleep filled Christmas!
If you are going to be staying away from home, it will help to pack as many familiar items as possible. Thes could be a favourite soft toy, cushion or blanket. The familiar smell and bedding from home will offer comfort and reassurance.
As soon as you can, spend time in your child’s “temporary” bedroom; you don’t want the first time they enter that room to be bedtime. Put their things away together, have some stories and cuddle in that room and show them the layout of the house such as where you and the rest of the family be sleeping.
Keeping naps on track….
If you have a little one who has day time naps it can be hard to keep these on track when there are lots of demands on your time.
To prevent your baby becoming over tired, keep an eye on the clock and take them away from the “action”, to a quiet space about 15 minutes before their usual nap time. After some peaceful cuddle and story time with you settle them to sleep.
If you are concerned background noise may wake your little one, try settling up some white noise near by to help dull sudden sounds.
You may wish to schedule some of naps out and about with a much needed walk in the fresh air. This has the added bonus of helping you all burn off those extra calories and the fresh air means you will all sleep better.
Foods to help you sleep….
Limit sugar and caffeine at least 2 hours before bedtime and if your child is still hungry in the evening offer them a turkey snack. Turkey is a high source of tryptophan, an amino acid we convert into serotonin which is a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin.
Whether you are at home or away, aim to keep to your child’s usual bedtime routine. Even if you start bedtime slightly later on Christmas night, it’s important to follow the same series of simple steps that your child associates with sleep. Children love the familiarity and security that a routine brings which is especially important if they are away from home.
Regular sleep times….
Apart from the main event, it is best to keep to regular bedtimes and just as importantly waking up times, for the remainder of the Christmas season. Having a well regulated body clock will help your child sleep better and be well rested for the excitement of the days.
Ready for bed….
To help calm your child’s busy and excited mind , quieten them well before it’s time for bed. Say goodnight to everyone and take them with you to a quiet room. Spend about 10 to 15 minutes in quiet activity such as reading or doing puzzles before starting their bedtime routine.
I can’t fall asleep….
If you have concerns that your child will struggle to go to sleep on the first few nights away or with guests in your house, aim to do the bathing and bed time story reading by yourself for the first few nights until your child is used to the changes. Rather than helping out at bedtime, you could ask grandparents to get your little ones ready for the day in the morning…then you can have a well needed lie-in.
I don’t want to go to bed yet….
Crucially, make sure that your boundaries remain the same.
Say goodnight and settle your child as you would do normally. The first two nights will set the precedent for the holiday time so focus your energies on these.
But if it does all go pear-shaped, make sure that as soon as either you or your family and friends return home, normal routines are reinstated immediately. It might take about 3 or 4 nights to get back on track but most of all try not to worry and have fun and look after yourself!
Hopefully, you’ll find Christmas bed times as straightforward as they would be at any other time.