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Surviving the Festive Season

If you’re anything like me you’ve spent your life dreaming about Christmas mornings spent in your own home, with your own family underneath a tree you are oh so proud of!

However, for me, along with this fun festive time of year, comes a whole lot of anxiety of how we are going to approach the season full of functions, well-meaning family, and potential late nights.

If you’ve worked hard to get your little one sleeping well, heading into this time of year can be daunting.

Where will my child nap? When will they nap?

Another event that clashes with bedtime.

Well-meaning family that think my child can stay up all night.

My main advice – stick to you schedule as closely as possible.


So, you have a lunch function on the other side of town that starts at midday, right when your toddler is due for their nap. Well, we all know if that toddler doesn’t nap EVERYONE that attends lunch is going to have a terrible time and for you that extends into an evening of hell.

I recommend being late. Tell the host you’ll be there at 12.30pm. You have kids that need their sleep. Yes, I understand some people don’t know how important sleep is for the health and development of our young people (and the sanity of Mum and Dad) but so be it. You’re still going, there’s just a little comprising to be done to suit the needs of your family and children.

With the plan of getting there half an hour late, you will load your car and hit the road by 11.30am. Most young children I know will ALWAYS fall asleep in the car. So, start driving and keep driving. Get an hour sleep or at least one sleep cycle out of your little one to get them through lunch. Your hosts will be more appreciative that you’ve brought a well-rested toddler to lunch rather than getting there on time with an overtired one.

Now, if you’re going to a family or friend’s house and you have a baby/infant, chat to them before hand to establish whether there is a quiet place you can put your baby down for their nap. If there is, take baby’s full set up. Sleeping bag, lovey and white noise. You want to replicate baby’s sleeping environment as closely as possible, so they are familiar and can put themselves to sleep.

If there isn’t an appropriate place for babe to sleep, I suggest going with the above strategy and attending the event between nap times, giving baby the opportunity to take their naps in the car. This is probably the best bet for young children who have 3-4 naps a day.

My main advice – stick to you schedule as closely as possible.


Okay, I’m fairly strict on this one. Don’t mess with bedtime.

Children are often very tired come this time of day and it is oh so easy to push them into overtiredness. For babies this will end in distraught crying, increased cortisol levels and multiple wakes during the night before early rising. Toddlers will become hyperactive before they have the meltdown of all time.

Get a babysitter. Make it an adult only event and let your hair down!

If this isn’t possible or it’s a situation where you want to take the kids to see friends and family, don’t push bedtime out more than 30-minutes if you can help it.

If it’s a dinner you are attending, again ask the host if there is somewhere quiet you can put your baby down whilst you are there. Follow your usual bedtime routine as closely as possible to signify to baby sleep is coming. A few hours later when it’s time to leave, pack everything up and load baby in the car LAST. Make sure everyone has said their goodbyes to bub prior to bedtime as we don’t want to rouse baby when we transfer them into the car.

Once you hit the road, don’t stress if bub is awake. There’s not much you can do. However, when you get home no mucking around. Babe goes straight into the cot to go back to sleep for the night. If you’ve chosen this option, then you just have to deal with whatever the night throws your way and make sure the next day is quiet so baby can catch up on any sleep they’ve lost.


Okay, this is by far my main predicament EVERY year.

Without a doubt the most common phrase I hear at Christmas time is “It’s only one day a year, let them stay up.”

My blood is boiling just writing this.

Well Great Aunt Agnus, it may be ONE day a year for you, but it’s a good three days of an overtired child on my hands. Unless you want to trade places? No, didn’t think so!

Obviously, I don’t say this because I love my family very much and I can see they mean well. They love my children immensely.

However, the situation is, they have NO IDEA how hard we’ve worked to teach our children to sleep well, and they really have no idea how important sleep is for young children. You wouldn’t starve your child of food for a period of time, you really shouldn’t starve them of their sleep. Their little brains and bodies need a rest, especially at this busy time of year!

So, my advice here is to just put your foot down as politely as possible. If you’re in the bad books for a while, well again, so be it. You need to prioritise what is best for you and your immediate family to survive the festive season.

I’m not saying don’t compromise, that’s actually something that can work in your favour. Tell the grandparents that you are going to come to Christmas a little earlier this year so they can spend good quality time with the kids, but bedtime is strictly 7pm.


I highly recommend if you have had a busy day or know you have pushed your little one to their limits, have a quiet one the next day. Stick to routine, consider early bedtimes, and give your child the opportunity to catch up on any sleep debt. This is the best way to stay on track and not get derailed by overtiredness.

If you are early in the process of teaching your child independent sleep skills, you really don’t want to shift the boundaries too much. A more established independent sleeper will take an ‘off day’ better than a child developing the skills to sleep well.

I will sign off by saying Merry Christmas and GOOD LUCK! You aren’t alone, stick to your routines and put the needs of your family first.

Contact our sleep consultant today to book your free introductory consultation.


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