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How To Enjoy the Holidays and Get Some Sleep

As the holidays approach, I am reminded of where I was just three short years ago. I had a two-month-old at the time and had finally gotten some sort of semblance of a routine to our daily life.

Bedtime was between 7 and 8 p.m. and she would usually give us a good 4-5 hour stretch at the start of the night. But with the holidays looming, I was panicked. What do I do? Keep baby on a schedule and miss out on holiday events? Wing it, go off schedule, and see what happens? In all honesty, I just wanted to skip the holidays… But what fun would that be?!

Having helped hundreds of families stressed out by schedules (and three years into my own holidays-with-child) here are the top ways to handle the holidays!

Judge your own child. Is your child fairly adaptable? Does your child do ok if there is an “off” day here and there? Is your child fairly well rested on a daily basis?

Yes! I have a unicorn baby!

Enjoy your holidays and just be OK with the fact that your day is going to be a little different. Your child might sleep in a different space or at a slightly different time. Try to stay on a loose schedule and make sure you’re not hitting the overtired zone. Be thankful for your “easy” baby!

Ho, ho, NO! 

Then you really need to consider your plans for the holidays and either:

  1. Schedule events around nap/bedtimes.
  2. Host! Hosting allows you to keep your baby or child in her own environment. With the use of white noise, your child can enjoy restful sleep even with a house full of people. And you can keep your child on schedule!
  3. Know that you may have a day or two that isn’t so fun. Return to your daily schedule as soon as you return home or are able. Realize that it may take your child a week or so to get back on track.

If you’re feeling discouraged about rearranging your life based on your child’s schedule, remember that this too shall pass. Your child will grow and these issues are fleeting. Three years ago, the holidays were hard and I discovered that not all children are adaptable to wildly different schedules or sleep environments. Lesson learned.

One year later, and baby A was a toddler. She could handle much longer wake times. Hosting the holidays, I was able to schedule festivities to begin right as she was waking from her afternoon nap. I then knew she’s good for a good stretch before bedtime. It is much easier and much more enjoyable to keep her on schedule than to throw things off for even one day. An unhappy baby or toddler usually leads to an unhappy parent! And at that point, is it really worth it?

I feel much more relaxed this year, but I remember the panic from my first year as a parent. The best thing to do is to do your best. Know that if you’ve already laid a foundation for a healthy sleep schedule your child should return back to normal pretty quickly. Happy Holidays!

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