It’s the Holidays! It’s time for rich food; It’s time for later nights and lots of friends and family. It’s fun, but the routine that usually rules your days is lost in the excitement. Unfortunately, your toddler or young child is turning into the Christmas Grinch — grouchy and tired. Here are 6 ways to give your children the rest they need during the Holiday season.
6 Ways to Help Your Child Stay Rested during the Holiday Season
Christmas is coming. Santa is on his way. And, so is the extended family. Whether you’re expecting a house full or getting ready to pack up and head over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house, here are 6 tips to give you child the rest they need.
- Build in down time. It’s tempting to let your toddler or child play with Grandpa or Uncle Mike until he collapses in a heap and is asleep on the floor. It’s not going to work. You’ll end up with a child who is so tired that they may not get the restful night’s sleep they need. Neurologist Shelly Weiss reminds parents that “a well-rested child will settle down better and sleep better.” Watch for signs your child is pushing beyond his or her limits and take a time out. Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, excuse yourself and create a bit of quiet time for your child – you’ll benefit, too!
- Share your bed. If you’re tried everything you usually do to help your child fall asleep, but it’s just not working in a strange place like a hotel room or Aunt Nelly’s guest bedroom. Consider breaking the 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 may be the answer.
- 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 sleep/wake 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.
- Nap or not! If your child or toddler is still taking a regular nap, try to create a Holiday naptime routine that includes that nap. Take time to settle your child down. Read a story or even lie down with the child to settle them into their routine naptime. It will give you a break, too. On the other hand, 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. The Holidays will end and you’ll return home to your normal work schedule. If your child is in preschool, daycare or school, make sure you return home in time to give your child a day – or two or more – of normalcy before he returns to the old routine. Keep the days before you return to the usual 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. There’s no better gift than a new, supportive bed if your old bed is tired and leaving you tired. Start the new year right with a mattress – consider a supportive, natural latex mattress – that will give you the great sleep you need throughout the New Year. Now, that’s something to celebrate.