It’s been a whirlwind holiday season full of parties, visitors, travel, late nights, and early mornings. In fact, the only things missing from your toddler’s holiday season were routines and a few naps. Your toddler has built up a sleep debt which has turned the little angel everyone fawned over at holiday gatherings into a cranky, willful, and overtired child. This happens to the best parents, and despite all of our good intentions about naps and bedtimes. The good news is that it is possible to cure your toddler of the holiday (sleep) hangover with these three simple tips.
- Early to Bed! With all of the holiday excitement, it’s not uncommon for bedtimes to creep later and later until you realize that you’re putting your toddler to bed a full hour later than her November bedtime. It sounds counter intuitive, but the more well rested a child is, the easier they will go to sleep and they’ll have a better night’s sleep too! Resetting your child’s bedtime to its previous early time can be accomplished in a few nights by moving bedtime back by 15 minutes a night. This will play a big role in helping to cure the holiday (sleep) hangover.
- Naps are a wonderful thing. Whether it’s because of travel or activities or the novelty of all the new toys, one of the first sleep casualties of the holiday season is nap time. Some toddlers take two naps, some take one but almost every toddler needs a nap. Should your toddler disagree on this point, try some quiet time activities like reading a book or playing with a puzzle to help ease them into napping again. A calming nap time routine, toddler alarm clocks, and some wind down / quiet time activities can all help convince your toddler that naps aren’t the enemy.
- Routines are important. When you’re rushing to get your child down for a nap or to bed, it’s easy to skip a step (or three) in the bedtime routine. Routines are the way that we signal to our children (and ourselves) that it’s time to start winding down for sleep. Children can’t go from 100 down to 0 instantly, and a bedtime routine gives them the time and the cues they need to get their bodies ready for sleep. As a bonus, bedtime routines are a great way to spend some one-on-one quality time with your child which can enhance their daytime behaviour. If they know that they’re guaranteed some one-on-one time at the end of the day, they will be less likely to feel it necessary to act out in order to gain attention during the day.
Now that the holidays are winding down, it’s time to get back to the sleep routines that have fallen by the wayside. Naps, regular bedtimes, and a calming bedtime routine will go a long way to helping your child (and you) recover from the holiday (sleep) hangover.
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC) and serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute. She and her husband, Mike, live in Burlington, Ontario with their 3 children (1+twins!) and when she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she and her global team are working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Today’s Parent, Yummy Mummy Club, PBS Kids, and Canadian Living. Alanna strives in helping families and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have happy well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and Good Night Sleep Site at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and you can join Alanna on the first Wednesday of every month at the Burlington location of Snuggle Bugz/Nestled for her FREE in-person sleep clinic from 10-11am.