Christmas Eve is one of the most magical nights of the year for kids. However, though all good little children know that Father Christmas only comes when you are asleep; it can be hard to get them to settle down and get some shut-eye with so much excitement. Especially, if you have family and friends around. We have compiled some tips on how to get your kids to sleep on Christmas Eve.
According to a study from Australia for every hour, a child spends inactive during the day adds three minutes to the time taken to get to sleep at bedtime. If the weather is on your side, try to spend time outside in the fresh air to burn off some pre-Christmas energy. If not, then a trip to an indoor play area or energetic games (such as hide and seek) inside the house can also work a treat.
Going through the bedtime routine, as usual, will often help send signals to children that it’s time to feel sleepy. This may be harder if you’re away from home at Christmas or you have a full house, but you can bring most of your routine with you e.g. bath, brush teeth, story time, teddy etc.
It is tempting for many parents to let their children stay up late on Christmas Eve so that they have more chance of sleeping in the following morning. However, it rarely seems to work! If you’re not able to stick to your normal bed time then keep an eye out for signs of tiredness, which are often followed quickly by a bit of a meltdown, and take action with instigating bedtime as soon as you can.
It can be reassuring for children if they know beforehand how bedtime on Christmas Eve will play out. Give them plenty of notice of how it’s going to work which can help promote calmness e.g. After the Christmas film we’ll put out the mince pie and the carrot, then it will be bath time, then story time for 20 minutes, then sleep.
When you are getting the kids ready to settle down for bed, get out the Christmas pyjamas. This gives them a cue that bedtime is coming and it also makes the night a little bit special. Once they have their new jim jams on get them to help you sprinkle reindeer dust in the garden, so that Santa’s reindeer will find their house, and put out the mince pies and carrots. Then it's strictly bed time!
Whilst some children will stay quietly in bed if they’re finding it hard to sleep, many won’t! Taking them straight back to bed with no fuss is often the best way to deal with serial getter-uppers. You might have to do it a few times, but for most children, it works in the end as being up and constantly being taken back to bed isn’t that much fun after a while.
If all else fails, a reminder that Father Christmas only visits sleeping children could be enough to convince your child to give closing their eyes for a while a chance – and hopefully enough time for real sleep to overtake them!