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While this time of year is packed with fun holiday activities, it’s also ripe for sleep disruptions. Between gatherings with families and friends and travel, it can be challenging to stick to a routine as an adult, but managing children’s schedules can be even more difficult. A recent article written by pediatric sleep consultant Unnati Patel for Atlanta Mom offers five tips to help manage children’s sleep schedules during this hectic time of year.
Planning is essential. Be realistic about your holiday commitments to prevent overtiredness. For example, try limiting the number of activities in one day, prioritize gatherings in terms of closeness, and be willing to adjust your child’s schedule. If a nap must be missed, plan for an earlier bedtime to compensate.
Try to plan outings around nap times, and if possible, bring items from your child’s bedtime routine to another’s home. That way, if a party goes late, they can get ready for bed in a similar way to if they were at home.
According to Patel, “familiarity fosters comfort.” Create this feeling by bringing any familiar objects with you such as stuffed animals, blankets or sleep aids. If you attend a dinner party that runs late, consider packing a portable crib they can sleep in and fill it with their favorite items to relax them.
Music, sparkling lights, and loud gatherings can be sources of overstimulation for children and put them in a bad mood. Try integrating downtime into your packed holiday plans by scheduling family walks or quiet time.
Parents need rest, too. Make sure to give yourself moments of respite from the chaos with a long shower or get some fresh air during a short walk. By taking care of yourself, you can take even better care of those around you.
Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. This time of year, though often chaotic, is meant to be fun. By sticking to yours — and your child’s routine — it will be even more enjoyable.