Christmas is my favorite time of the year – I love the family time, the connection, the overall coziness of the holidays and the extra time spent at home. It can also be an extremely stressful time for parents as we navigate the complexities of family outings with small children. Do I let everyone hold my newborn? How am I going to make sure the kids get their naps? Can I get home from dinner in time for the kids’ bedtimes? Will Aunt Judy be understanding as we make our swift exit at exactly 6:27pm in order to bathe, bottle and pajama the kids? How will the kids handle the excitement and the changes to everyday routines? You’re not alone, for so many parents the holidays are overwhelming. Here are some of our greatest tips to making the most out of this time of year!
- Have a plan. This is often the most overwhelming piece of the holidays. Without a plan, things can feel directionless and daunting. Once you have an idea of your schedule, map out how things will go before, during and after you are there. Think about what each engagement looks like in terms of your littles and their feeding and sleep schedules. Plan for naps and bedtimes and then arrange what you need to make that happen. Remember that naps on the go, while not quite as restful as naps in the crib, are still naps.
- Set clear expectations. It’s true that friends and family don’t always understand or sympathize with very rigid schedules. I always find it very helpful to set expectations beforehand of what you are going to need, whether it be an early departure or a quiet and dark space for a nap. Be vocal about what you need, you’ll be surprised at how helpful the response is.
- Make a list ahead of time. Make note of what you use each day for eating and sleeping and start a list. By mentally cataloging your everyday items, you’ll be in a better position to create a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need on the day. Be sure to pack extra clothing and diapers to ensure you’re prepared in the event of a blowout. To ensure success, you want to make sure you have everything packed that you would normally use to put your child to bed. You’re sleeping kit may look like this:
- Sound Machine
- Swaddle / Sleep Sack
- Bedtime stories
- Help your little one prepare. The best way to help your little prepare varies widely based on their age. For smaller babies, it can be helpful to practice napping in different locations to help with new environments. If you’re planning to travel, this may mean practicing to go to sleep in a PackNPlay in their bedroom, napping in the stroller or sleeping in a cot in another room. For older toddlers, communication and preparation are key. Don’t forget that if it feels overwhelming for you, there’s a good chance your baby feels the stress too.
- Allow for some flexibility. Things don’t and won’t always go to plan, and that’s okay. A flexible routine as opposed to a rigid schedule can be really useful over the holidays. You know your baby, you know their cues. Prioritize safeguarding sleep as best you can, while still allowing yourself the opportunity to enjoy the holidays. This may mean pushing a nap by thirty minutes one day, or capping it on another to get to dinner on time.
- Don’t panic! Remember you can’t ruin all your hard work. Enjoy yourself! No matter what happens over the holidays, you can always get back on track in the new year. There’s no need to panic, even if you find out that your mom has secretly been rocking the baby to sleep as grandma’s tend to do!
Need help? Get in touch with Caitlin today for customized sleep solutions implemented in partnership with your family.