Managing Your Kids' Sleep Over the Holidays

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child hanging ornament on christmas tree

Now that school is out for winter break it can be tempting to abandon the regular sleep routines. We get it. Late-night family gatherings, the excitement of the big man in red’s arrival, and the endless holiday flick offerings on the endless streaming service options (wasn’t cutting cable supposed to save money?!), can hinder our attempts to get the littles to bed at their regular bedtime. 

It’s okay to let bedtime slide on occasion; however, it’s important that they still get the recommended amount of sleep. A few nights of too little sleep shouldn’t have an impact long term, especially for older kids, but in the short term, you might be managing a few more temper tantrums and other behavioural issues that can be expected from a cranky, overtired child. 


Child Sleep Duration Recommendations

Maintain schedule where possible

Younger children will be more impacted by a disrupted schedule than the older kiddos. If a late-night is unavoidable then it’s important that the naptime schedule is maintained. Or, if a midday activity cuts into naptime, then you may need to say no to the holiday festivities that evening.  

Downtime is sacred

Even if bedtime is later than usual you should still make time for downtime. The hour or two prior to bedtime should be calming. Read books, keep the lights low, and put the screens away. Older kids might enjoy journaling about their day, or about what they are looking forward to doing over the holidays. Colouring, family yoga, and board games (calm, quiet ones of course), are other great ways to spend time with family and quietly end the day. 

Getting back on track

Make sure to get the kids back to their regular schedule before they’re back to school. Don’t wait until the night before! Adjust their bedtimes by about 15 minutes each night until they are back to their regular time. 

Do what’s best for your family

Some children don’t adapt well to a disrupted routine and do best if kept to a strict schedule. It’s okay to say no, or to leave early. Do what works for you and your family. If missing out on Aunt Edna’s annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party means avoiding a level-5 meltdown, go ahead, miss that party. There will be more parties and more ugly sweaters next year.


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