Getting children to sleep on Christmas Eve

Posted on Dec 11, 2019 Tags: , ,

Santa Claus came to a sleeping child girl in Christmas

We all remember the thrill of anticipation as our childhood Christmas Eves were drawing to an end. The build-up of excitement as Christmas Day approached is a treasured childhood memory for many.

Unfortunately, when you grow up and have kids of your own, that excitement isn’t quite so much fun. Parents often have a lot to do on Christmas Eve – and children who are nearly sick with excitement don’t help. Worst of all, excitement and sleep don’t go well together. Most parents have had to hurriedly hide the last-minute gift wrapping when a child appears at the door and announces that they’re too excited to sleep.

So, what’s a parent to do? How can you ensure that your kids both get a good night’s sleep and leave you in peace to do that essential Christmas Day prep?

  • Wear them out. Wearing kids out so that they sleep is a time-honoured parental tactic…but it doesn’t always work. To be truly successful in this, you have to walk a fine line between exhausting and overstimulating your kids. Otherwise, you’ll pass the dreaded ‘overtired’ barrier and that’s a nightmare for everyone involved. We suggest a gentle but sustained course of physical and mental exercise. For example, a walk in the park while playing ‘I Spy’, or a treasure hunt (with clues) around the house.
  • Don’t overexcite them. As we mentioned above, it’s very easy to cross the line between ‘worn out’ and ‘overtired’. Excitement is often the factor which propels kids across this line. While it’s great to see their little faces light up at the thought of Father Christmas, try to keep the hype to a minimum.
  • Follow normal bedtime routines. Following a normal bedtime routine serves two purposes: one, it helps to keep excitement at normal levels. And, two, it triggers normal associations with sleep. Letting kids stay up late or otherwise breaking normal bedtime patterns on Christmas Eve can set their circadian rhythms out of whack, and that leads to a night of lying awake seething with excitement.
  •  Set an example. Your kids won’t want to stay up if the house is boring and empty. Your presence as parents is part of what makes it exciting to stay up late. Set an example by heading to bed yourselves (you can always do that essential last-minute Christmas stuff in your room).
  • Bribery and corruption. If all else fails, the traditional fallbacks of parents are always there: bribery and corruption. Tell them that Father Christmas won’t come unless they’re in bed with their eyes closed. Promise them an extra present if they go to bed RIGHT NOW and stay there until morning. Whatever works!

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