Everyone knows that most children don’t need much excuse to get excited. This can obviously disrupt sleep patterns around the festive period. However, it doesn’t matter if you are receiving guests for the festive period or you are visiting friends or relatives at this time – the children still need their sleep. They might disagree with you, given the many distractions and stimulations all around them, but they have to be overruled if you want a peaceful Christmas.
Given that this time coincides with school holidays the temptation might be to cut them some slack and let them get away with things that would not be tolerated during a normal school week. While some leeway and cutting of slack can, indeed, be allowed, the parents have to maintain control of the situation. Take, for instance, the situation where the family is uprooted for a few days and are invited to Grandma’s. Assuming that the kids are actually happy with this arrangement the chances are that they will try to exploit the situation to their maximum benefit.
The grandparents themselves might take a more active role in child care and supervision at this time and are likely to be a bit more inclined to let the kids have their way. The kids really have to be told that just because they are away from the normal home environment there is no reason to stay awake so late. Obviously most children do not equate being up half the night with lack of functionality the next day, but somehow they have to be taught that this is how it is! We all know how cranky children can be after a disrupted night, and this does not equate to a festive atmosphere.
Similarly, if you have relatives or friends coming for overnight stays or even for late finishing parties in your house, the kids’ sleep patterns have to be considered. There is no harm in giving in a little bit to the pleadings – “Awww Mum, let us stay up just a little bit longer…” – but there has to be a limit. With noise and excitement all around the house it will be difficult to actually get them into their beds in the first place and even harder to get them to sleep. However, once the shutting-the-eyes-barrier has been passed it is amazing how tolerant young ears can be to excessive noise. If they are tired enough they will sleep through the ongoing party downstairs.
So remember, some tolerance to just 5 more minutes can be ok at Christmas, but if you want to avoid a new year full of disrupted sleep and tired, cranky children, you’d best set yourself a routine!