Christmas can be one of two things…..Exciting or stressful! Your choice depends a lot on your own natural disposition or your desire to make a choice. Fun or dread. Those with young children, typically feel the latter.
So when the last Christmas concert has been performed and all the teachers have received their little clumsily wrapped tokens of appreciation, the kids come home to stay – at least for the next few weeks or so. Now what?? Just when the routine of back to school was running like clockwork, the family is thrown into another adjustment of no rules….Or so they think.
The most important thing to consider is to keep a structured routine while school is out. That is the best way to keep everyone calm, happy, and cooperative.
While this time of year is very busy with planning if you typically host family and friends, it is important to include your children’s activity and sleep needs into the plan. The aim is not to change their daily structure too much from school days so that bedtime will be as per usual.
Keep Your Children Busy
- Depending on their age and how many children you have, their day-to-day schedule should include structure similar to their experience at school.
- Wake up should be at the same as always minus the stress of packing lunches. Sleep time should also be at the same time.
- Plan indoor and outdoor activities and if they get a nap at school, keep that the same at home.
- Hire a babysitter when you need to run errands so that their activity level remains the same every day. Additionally, it’s not always a good idea to drag young and tired children around in busy shopping malls unless they are old enough to have a task.
- Arrange play dates with other families and return the favour when you need some time.
Include Your Children in the Planning
- If your children become part of the big plan, they will feel important and relevant during this bustling time of year. Their age will determine what tasks they can manage.
- Take them along on a grocery run to pick their favourite ingredient for that special dinner or plan a baking project where everyone gets to help out.
- Allow them to help out in the kitchen while teaching them the names of ingredients and kitchen tools that they will be using. Turn it into a classroom where they may be tested, graded and rewarded.
- Give them tasks to de-clutter their play area, or dust the guest room for grandfather’s visit. They can add a little personal touch by colouring a snowscape or making a popcorn garland. Let them be creative!
Stay on Schedule
- As difficult as this may be when preparing to host a gathering, it is imperative that you keep meals and playtime at regular intervals.
- Bath time and bedtime should not be thrown off because you are behind schedule with your preparations. Get help if you need. Surely some students could use extra cash this time of year. Remember that although you may be focused on being the best host during the holidays, children need to enjoy their time away from school by keeping them busy as well. This will ultimately pay off during bedtime.
- Give your children some fun arts and crafts to do to help decorate their bedroom. Twigs they find on their walks can build a wreath or small tree, for example.
- Use some festive throw pillows or snowman designed sheets and comforters. Children love new things in their bedrooms even though you used them last year and the year before that. The change to festive bed accessories may encourage excitement around sleep time.
- Add small blinking lights around the windows or a night light that shines a Santa Claus on the ceiling that will help them dream of that special day.
- Although sweets at bedtime will discourage a restful sleep, make a ritual of quiet wind down time about 1 hour before bedtime. Prepare some graham crackers and cheese, or hard-boiled egg with whole wheat toast, apple slices with peanut butter or whole grain unsweetened cereal with berries.
Despite your hectic holiday schedule, you shouldn’t rush bedtime with your children as they may feel unimportant and become resentful. This will ultimately set the tone for the days leading up to the big Christmas day.
Share a few laughs, read a few pages from their favourite Christmas book and then tuck them in between their special Christmas sheets and blankets, with their Santa toy slipped under their arm and with the scent of banana bread baking for the next day’s breakfast, toy soldiers and sugar plum fairies will surely and quickly dance lively in their heads.
Angela, Your Sleep Expert