Did you know that more than half of parents admit to resorting to scare tactics to get their kids to sleep on Christmas Eve, and that one of the main reasons our little elves won’t shut their eyes isn’t because they’re too excited, but because they’re too hyped up on sugar?
Those are the findings of a new study into the festive fallout experienced by mums and dads at Christmas by Eve Sleep, and I must admit I’m already dreading it.
We’re away this Christmas and I already know there’ll be ramifications, from travelling at danger nap time on Christmas Eve (unavoidable) to the inevitable disruption of not being in their own beds.
So, if you’re worried about festive fallout too and want to do everything you can to keep things as calm as possible on Christmas Eve sleep expert Dave Gibson, founder of The Sleep Site, has these top tips.
5 expert tips to help kids sleep on Christmas Eve
1. Plan ahead
“This is especially important if you have visitors or are visiting someone over Christmas,” says Dave. “Make sure your children know if they have different beds for the night to accommodate family staying with you. You can take their usual pillow and blanket, or anything else they normally sleep with helping them to relax. It’s important to explain to little ones why they are going to bed at a certain time on Christmas Eve so that they understand that a ‘special’ bedtime routine will help them settle and be ready for Christmas Day.”
2. Split Christmas Eve day into the ‘power of three’
“Plan an excitable morning, full of activities to tire them out,” advises Dave. “Then have a relaxing afternoon, full of Christmas films and time on tech (if allowed) followed by a quiet evening, with board games and card games.”
3. Stick to their normal bedtime routine
“Children like routine and our brains like habits, so we always get to sleep more easily when we have a consistent bedtime routine,” Dave says. “This is especially true on Christmas Eve with all the extra excitement to manage. A familiar sleep routine could be bath, brush teeth, bedtime story and then lights out. Try not to let festivities change this. Try a countdown to bedtime, starting at 60 minutes, to 30 and then 15 to let the kids know bedtime is coming. You might want to start this half an hour before their usual bedtime, to allow for excitement.”
4. Minimise sugar
“Allow none after lunchtime,” says Dave. “Keep sugar and sweets to a minimum. The Eve Sleep study shows a quarter of children struggle to sleep on Christmas Eve as they are too hyped up from sugary sweets, so let your family and guests know not to give out sweets to the kids after lunchtime if you want to allow some on Christmas Eve morning.”
5. Bring everything an hour forward
“Children will inevitably wake up early on Christmas Day due to sheer excitement, so bring step 2 forward by an hour on Christmas Eve to allow that little extra time,” advises Dave. “The Eve Sleep study shows two fifths of children aged five to 10 are up and out of bed before 6am, so try bringing their routine forward and allow them to still achieve the same amount of sleep they are used to.”
Do you have any tips or tricks for getting kids to sleep with minimum fuss on Christmas Eve? I’d love to know what they are!