21st December 2018
Getting your child to sleep on Christmas Eve may seem like an impossible task. The mince pie and carrot has been left out, stockings have been hung up and, with the thought of Santa’s imminent arrival, excitement is at an all-time high. This probably means sleep is the last thing on your little ones’ mind.
A lack of sleep for both you and child could mean everyone is feeling a bit cranky and tired on the big day. With a bit of careful preparation, you can try and prevent a situation where your little one is hanging off the bannisters refusing to go to sleep whilst you are trying to finish some last minute present wrapping.
However excited your child may be about Father Christmas’ arrival, a day full of festive activities will mean that they will not be able to fight the urge to sleep come the evening. Getting out and about in the fresh air will help to tire them out much more effectively than watching Christmas films all day. You may wish to start a Christmas Eve tradition of going on a big family walk in the woods, encouraging the children to hunt out some pine cones for the Christmas table decorations. Even just a trip to the park or your local swimming pool will help expend some excess energy.
No child wants to go to bed on Christmas Eve, and probably won’t admit to being tired even if they are falling asleep on their feet. They may feel like they are missing out by heading to bed before everyone else, especially if you have guests staying. However, once they pass the tiredness stage and become over-tired, we all know what that can bring. Look out for signs of tiredness and aim to get them to bed before the hyper behaviour and tantrums begin as that can make the chances of them sleeping even less likely.
It is easier said than done, but try to stick to your child’s usual routine. Once your little one has broken up from school, bedtimes can easily slip back an hour or so. Whilst this may not seem to cause much of an issue on any other day, it can make getting them to sleep at a reasonable hour on Christmas Eve even more difficult. Follow their normal bedtime routine as much as you can, whether that is a bath or a couple of bedtime stories, so despite their excitement, they will be relaxed and ready for bed.
Even if you are staying away from home, these usual bedtime rituals will act as cues that it is time for sleep. Bring some familiar bedding and toys with you, which will help them to settle despite being in an unfamiliar location.
From Christmas music, films and games to tubs of chocolate, the build up to Christmas brings with it a lot of additional stimuli that can hype your child up and make it a lot more challenging to get them to bed come the evening. Whilst all of these things are what makes Christmas what it is, try to limit how much they are exposed to at the same time.
Also as much as children will be excited for Santa’s arrival, sometimes the thought of a man coming down the chimney and into their bedroom may frighten them and prevent them from nodding off. Keep the stockings downstairs in the living room, and this should hopefully mean your little one is more relaxed about going to sleep.
Finally, as a last resort, a bit of good old-fashioned bribery may do the trick. After all, Santa only visits when you are fast asleep!