Sleep. Every parent knows how essential it is, especially over the hectic holidays. And the question always arises, do I keep my well-scheduled, routined child on the same schedule while traveling or going to events and parties or totally ‘mess them up’?

Whether at-home or away this holiday, there are some ways to ensure the sleep they – and you– need, is going to happen!

The most important question to ask is, how does my child respond when he/she is off schedule. If they are the type of kid that can stay up late one night and bounce back the next day or so and fall back into their routine, then it is fine to allow that child to stay awake longer or skip a nap or two and it won't be the end of the world for the child or your family. If you have a child, however, that cannot tolerate those extremes in the schedule without being overtired and cranky and make any event you would have taken them to a not-so-fun event, then consider the following tips so you can have a non-hectic holiday.

If you are traveling either out of town or down the road to a family get together, plan ahead and bring the things that you will need for your child to take a nap or have their bedtime routine.

  • For example, if your child sleeps in a crib at home, bring a pack and play to your friend’s Christmas party and set it up in a quiet room. Bring along your monitor (or make your phone an audio monitor) so you can keep an eye on him if he's not sleeping or wakes prematurely. Bring a sound machine (or use an app on your phone) to leave in the room so he's not woken by the festivities. Bring any lovies and/or pacifiers that the child likes. Bring a nightlight, if possible.
  • It may feel like you are dragging your whole house there but it is a small price to pay to have your child sleeping on schedule while you still get to enjoy yourself at the party.

If/When you have guests in your home or in town that you are playing host to, try to schedule activities around your child’s nap time, if possible. You and your child (and your guests) will have a more enjoyable time if your child is well-rested. Even though it may seem inconvenient to stay home for the nap or come home early so the child can nap, it will be worth it to not have a cranky kid on your outing.

  • The other option is to plan the outing for when it is the child’s actual nap time so they can ideally sleep in the car or stroller.
  • The final option is for the parents to tag-team the outing. One parent stays home with the napping child while the other plays host to the guests.
  • If you plan on skipping the child’s naptime, then plan for an earlier bedtime. And if your plans involve a later bedtime, then ensure the child gets a nap during the day. It can be detrimental to your fun if the child skips one or both naps as well as does a late bedtime.

It can be hard to get a child to wind down if there is lots of excitement. So, at least an hour before bedtime and a ½ hour before naptime, try to decrease the stimulating activities and bring them into their room to do quiet activities such as reading books or playing with calming toys/activities. Eliminate TV before these sleep intervals. It may seem to settle them but it can be deceptively stimulating.  

Try to keep your child on schedule as much as possible throughout the holidays but at the end of the day, Christmas comes but once a year so if it means that you have to skip a nap for your child or keep them up waaay past their bedtime, sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and have fun. If it totally backfires, you have Mardi Gras to make some changes ;)


7 Surefire Tips to get them Sleeping 

Bring a Pack-n-Play (with appropriate lovies etc) to set up in the sleep room.

Bring your baby monitor (or phone app) to keep an eye on her.

If he is accustomed to a night light, or a sound machine- bring them! 

Plan outings (such as museums, etc) in the stroller during nap time- so the nap can happen on the go.

Don't be afraid to tag-team with the other parent, better one stay in then have the whole family out- and miserable- because of missed naps or late bedtime. 

For an earlier bedtime when traveling, go ahead and skip the nap. If a late bedtime, don't skip the nap- even they seem like they don't need it at the time!

Take time to do a calming story time or snuggle time in the room before they go down for a nap or the  night. 

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