20 Dec ‘Twas the night before Christmas: How to get the kids to sleep when Santa is on his way
Let’s face it: Christmas can be a magical time, but it can be exhausting, too. For young children, it’s all very exciting, with the prospect of Santa paying your home a visit often too much to bear, leaving a disrupted night’s sleep ahead of them. After the struggle to send the kids to bed, there’s a chance you’ll be having a late one yourself, especially if you’re preparing for guests arriving tomorrow.
Christmas Eve can be a tiring occasion, and the lack of sleep for you and your family can leave you all sluggish the next day. To help you out, we’ve put together some festive survival tips, so your family can get enough shut eye to enjoy the big day. Read on to find out more.
Turn Christmas Eve into a family adventure
One of the best ways to get your children asleep on time is to tire them out by embarking on a busy day. There’s science to back this idea up, too: a 2009 study by scientists at the University of Auckland and Monash University found that kids who had been more active fell asleep more quickly and for longer than those who hadn’t.
So, ahead of Christmas Eve, have a bit of a think to see if there is anything that you can do as a family. This could be a winter walk through the woods, a festive bike ride, or even a sledging session (for those white Christmases), anything that you’ll all enjoy and get a bit of exercise from. If you think that the kids have still got a bit too much energy, maybe take a trip to the cinema or a late pantomime to wrap up a long day.
Stick to a regular routine
Even at Christmas, your children can benefit from being creatures of habit, so don’t abandon any specific rules or rituals just because it’s a special occasion. Research published by the Journals of Gerontology: Series B found that people who keep to a schedule can experience a better, more consistent night’s sleep, so providing your kids with the same structure could be very effective.
If your children have a set routine, be sure to stick to it, as it will help to prepare them for sleep. Reading them a bedtime story can help to encourage sleep, so why not pick a Christmas-themed tale, or choose one from our round-up of the best bedtime books for kids?
Avoid sugary snacks before bed
Over the festive season, chances are you have a lot more sugary sweets and treats around the house than usual. Even savoury snacks, such as mince pies, can be jam-packed with sugar, according to the British Heart Foundation. On Christmas Eve, you may be tempted to let the kids have some of these goodies, seeing as it’s so close to the big day, but that would be a mistake.
This is because if we consume a large amount of sugar it can majorly affect the quality of our sleep (Sleep.org), so unless you want your little ones still climbing the walls come midnight, it’s best avoided. Instead, let them snack on something sugar-free if they’re hungry before bed.
Don’t give restless children extra attention
If your children still refuse to go to sleep, be sure that you don’t pay them any extra attention or get angry with them, as this is likely to get them amped up even more if they recognise you’re making a big fuss of the occasion. Should any of your kids continuously get up and start walking about, don’t snap, simply be patient and keep telling them firmly to go back to bed.
Use Santa to encourage sleep
If all else fails and your kids are still awake late on, you can always wheel out the age-old line: “Santa only comes if children are sleep.” Not only will this get them back to bed sharpish, but the prospect of not getting what they really want (presents) should act as incentive for sleep.
However, you don’t have to make this a threat. If you could create a whole routine to prepare for Saint Nick with the kids, you can subtly imply that their being asleep is a key part of his visit to your home. Activities like preparing a midnight snack for Santa and tracking him using NORAD’s Santa Tracker can be used to make the evening a bit more magical, all while getting them ready for bed.
If you follow our top five tips, you should be able to get the kids off to bed with minimum fuss on Christmas Eve. You can find regular sleeping tips on our blog, as well as essential guides on our knowledge hub. From everyone here at Dormeo, we’d like to wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!