How to manage little people's routines over Christmas
Ah, Christmas! As holiday time approaches, we're all looking forward to a break from our normal lives. A time for family and friends, chilling and spending time together. But what if you have a baby in a specific routine, and there are house calls to make and places to travel to – not to mention people visiting you?
Christmas can really throw a spanner in the works when you have little ones who love their routine. My advice is stick to your normal day-to-day routines as much as you can – wherever that may be. If you can’t avoid deviating from your usual activities or have visitors staying – don't worry – a couple of days off-schedule won't do too much damage – most babies will be absolutely fine and will settle back into their old routine in a day or two.
Don’t panic too much if you're not at home for naps or overnight sleeps or if they sleep in car seats, prams or buggies during the day. The majority of babies will sleep just as well in a travel cot for short periods of time. And while it is not the greatest sleep in the world, it is okay for short periods of time and especially at this time of year if it can’t be avoided.
If you are travelling any sort of distance by car, you have two options in terms of sleep, and they depend on your little ones’ temperament:
- If your baby sleeps well in the car, time your travel to fit around their daytime nap and hit the road then
- If your baby refuses to nap in the car, then delay your travel a little. Let them take their nap at home, get your stuff together while they nap and then head off once they are refreshed.
- If you are travelling longer distances with older children, bring a small pillow with you so they can get comfy and catch 40 winks.
- Brush up on your knowledge of car games to play. Things like 'I spy' can be a great time-filler or bring colouring pads on small trays and encourage them to draw Christmas drawings for whoever you are visiting.
Sleeping somewhere different
Remember, most kids are pretty adaptable and should be able to adjust to sharing a room with parents or siblings for a few days, either at home or elsewhere. If your child doesn’t normally sleep in your room, but you will be sharing if you're away, position the cot as far away as possible from your bed. This will cause the least disruption. If your child is waking at night while you're away, and you wouldn’t normally bring him or her into your bed, try not to do so on holidays. By the time you get home, they will think this is the new way of sleeping, and you might have a whole new sleep battle on your hands!
- Bring familiar items with you so they feel at ease. If your baby sleeps in a grobag, don't forget it.
- If little ones have a comfort item, stock up on this item. If you are moving around a lot, things like these can get lost in transit or left behind – this is the last thing you need to add to festive stress.
People will call to see your children over the Christmas period which means keeping them up late or missing naps because relatives want to spend time with them can be unavoidable. Often people don’t want to be tied to a visiting schedule or don't understand that with young kids, you might have schedules and routines to stick to. The main thing is to be aware that by disrupting their routine or keeping them up much later than usual, you may pay for it later with overtired small people and early risers that wake at the same time regardless of what time they go to sleep.
My Christmas wish is that most of all, you enjoy the break. Normal service will resume, I promise. And if it doesn’t, I am here to help!