If you have kids, then you know that holidays with them is a mixture of magical and hot mess. Seeing the Christmas magic in your kids is one of the best parts of being a parent and getting to spend quality time with your family is always so special.
The downside is that the holidays can also mess with your family’s sleep schedule. You probably have some time off from work and the kids seem to have a break from school that lasts FOREVER. Add in the fact that the holidays are probably going to be filled with a lot of traveling and a lot of staying out late for holiday parties and New Year’s, it can be chaotic.
When you get back from all your holiday travels and the excitement of the holidays settle down, sometimes we need a sleep reset for the whole family.
I have a whole travel guide that goes through this extensively, but here’s some ways to get back on track:
1. Adjust wakeup time
A lot of people are adjusting from going to bed late and sleeping in a little bit later, so we need to start the day off earlier. Wake up your little ones earlier than they have been waking up over the break and adjust the day accordingly. The goal is to put your day back on the normal schedule that you were usually on, even if that means you’re pushing nap time a little bit.
To do this, you’re going to need to wake up your baby while you’re getting the schedule back on track. I know it’s hard to wake a sleeping baby, but it’s going to help you normalize their schedule in the long run!
If your kids are waking up too early, then leave them in their rooms until you want them to start their day. Keeping them in their room a little longer in the morning will help them learn to stay asleep for longer since being awake and playing in their room by themselves isn’t rewarding enough to keep waking up for.
2. Slowly ween bad sleep habits you developed over the holidays
Younger babies (under 9-12 months) that are sleep trained usually adjust pretty easily back to their old sleep schedule. Babies that are 12 months and older, though, are often resilient protesters. You may have used some sleep crutches (rocking to sleep, letting them sleep in your bed, etc.) to get them to go to sleep during the holidays and they want to keep these new bedtime routines.
The easiest way to break these bad sleep habits is to just slowly back down the amount of intervention. So if baby was used to sleeping in bed with you on your trip, then put baby back in their own bed and you lay on the floor with them until they fall asleep. And instead of rocking them to sleep, maybe you’re laying on the floor next to the crib and you have your hand through the bars, holding their hand or stroking their cheek until they fall asleep. Something that sooths them that isn’t you holding them in your arms.
After a couple of days, you can be laying on the floor and not touching baby, and then gradually they don’t need you in the room anymore.
One thing that I like to do for kids who want mom and dad’s intervention when falling asleep is to record yourself singing some lullaby’s for 15 minutes and play it on a loop through a wireless speaker, that way you can be elsewhere in the house and your baby can be in their room falling asleep by themselves.
Sometimes it’s helpful to pick a date, like school starting again or just picking a day, and saying “On Monday, things are going to be different” even if your baby isn’t old enough to understand that. If you have a time set in your mind where you know that you’re going to do the reset for your family, that can be helpful.
This is also a good way you can give older kids some warning before the reset. Giving them a heads up like: “Hey, on Monday things are going to be different when we go to bed. Here’s what we’re going to do,” so they can wrap their minds around it and start to prepare, hopefully minimizing their protest.
Honestly, my favorite way to reset small hiccups like the holidays is with melatonin, just for a night or two. I really like Tired Teddies because it’s a super low dose of melatonin (1/3 of a milligram) that’s a bubble gum chewable designed for children.
The reason why melatonin is so great is that it’s a natural hormone that we produce to regulate our sleep anyway. Melatonin will give your baby an extra boost of feeling tired, it’s not habit forming, and it generally doesn’t otherwise impact their sleep other than helping them to fall and stay asleep. Just a night or two helps them reset their body clock and then usually you’re good to go!
If your little one is over the age of two, give them a Tired Teddy before bed at your new designated bedtime for one or two nights in a row to help reset their body clock. I’ve given a half a tired teddy to my babies as young as 12-14 months, but talk to your doctor about that since it recommends using it on children over the age of two.
Using this supplement is not for everybody, so talk to your pediatrician if you have questions before going this route.
At the end of the day, it’s really important to get your family the sleep that they need. Depending on the habits that you are already starting with, it’s going to look different for each family. The objective is to prioritize sleep and getting everybody sleeping in a way that works for your parenting style.
For more sleep tips, follow me on Instagram @the.peaceful.sleeper and check out my website thepeacfeulsleeper.com.
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