4 top tips for promoting sleep this ChristmasPublished on
Whatever your Christmas plans, the excitement and upheaval of the festive period can throw a spanner in the works when it comes to your baby’s sleep routine.
But never fear, we’ve asked sleep experts Fern Bishop and Dawn Grey, founders of The Big Sleep Company, to share their top tips on seasonal shut-eye!
#1. If you’re a sucker for a schedule
Christmas can feel super stressful for schedule lovers, parents and children alike. That’s okay, we get that throwing caution to the wind and embracing the chaos is not for everyone. Instead of spending Christmas feeling tense, constantly clockwatching and wondering how you can discreetly veer everyone towards a day that will allow for your usual routine, consider your plan for the following days instead!
This shift in mindset means that, if your Christmas day unexpectedly allows for a near perfect day of naps and mealtimes, then great! But, if it doesn’t, don’t worry because you still have a plan. Decide how you’ll help your little one get back on track after Christmas day. So that might mean an extra nap to catch up on Boxing Day, or ensuring your partner doesn’t get too merry, so you can share the night-time wakings!
#2. Everyone needs a little time-out
Parents often report the trickiest hurdle during the festive period is that their child inevitably gets overstimulated, overtired and downright cranky. It can be hard to prevent all the excitement and chaos from becoming too much. We often forget about ourselves too. Whether you’re a social butterfly or a natural introvert, a busy Christmas can feel a bit much, even for adults. Recognise your own behaviour, and if you’re feeling a little frustrated, short tempered or tired, don’t be ashamed to take a nap with your baby, or make your excuses to grab a breath of fresh air. A little peace and quiet can go a long way!
#3. Practice your lines
This year, being with family – even for a short time – will feel like a treat. But that doesn’t mean family gatherings are easy. Whether it’s at the Christmas dinner table, or over a Zoom call, the truth is everyone’s got something to say about how you’re raising your little one! It’s almost always well-meaning, but you never feel more under the microscope than when you’ve got a living, breathing tiny human you made, and society likes to hold you personally responsible for all they do. It’s a tough gig!! If you’ve had some tricky comments or conversations like “Oh, she shouldn’t still be waking in the night, surely?” it’s likely that you’re already on guard. If you’re a sensitive person, these comments can really ruin your day. Practise some polite but close-ended replies to these unhelpful enquiries, for example:
“We feel confident with what we are doing right now, it’s working well for us.”
Practise and repeat these lines so that you feel you have got something ready- there’s nothing worse than feeling caught off guard and later wishing you’d said something different. Phrases like this mean that you’ve acknowledge what they’ve said, you’ve repeated that you are doing what feels right for your family, and it closes the conversation to further input.
#4. If you’re feeling anxious about surrounding yourself with family after a year of keeping safe
Anxiety is a normal human emotion, but for many reasons, a heightened sense of anxiety is common among parents. If you’re facing a Christmas Day surrounded by your bubbles, when you’ve been used to staying home and safe throughout 2020, this may lead to conflicting emotions.
Well-meaning family members may try to step in and offer a physical element of support, and while you’d love to have a little break, it just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps you struggle with feeling obliged to hand little one around when all you want to do is keep them close. That’s okay.
Feeling in control of a situation helps us manage anxious thoughts and feelings, and that can be hard in the chaos of Christmas. Choose one or two things that are really important to you. Maybe that is ensuring that only you do the feeds, perhaps in a quiet room just the two of you - a quiet moment to feel connected.
Maybe you’d prefer your mother-in-law not to take baby for a walk around the block to settle her, as you just don’t want baby out of your sight. If you feel on edge waiting for an awkward exchange over something you feel strongly about, you’ll spend all day on high alert and unable to enjoy anything.
Decide what is really important to you as a non-negotiable and do your best to let the rest go. That shift in mindset can allow for a sense of safety that means you can relax a little more. And a relaxed you means a relaxed baby.
Finally, it’s okay to not love every minute. 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, you are never off duty. Not every minute will be perfect or enjoyable, even on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of the year! Accepting our feelings as valid and real may be the greatest gift you can give yourself this year.
We hope these Christmas tips bring you something a little more helpful than the usual “pack everything, including the kitchen sink and spend all day stressing about naps!” rhetoric!
Who is the Big Sleep Company?
Fern and Dawn
The Big Sleep Company was founded by Paediatric Sleep Consultants and Maternity Practitioners, Dawn and Fern. Together, they are on a mission to empower and equip parents with all they need to restore calm to the family home.
Their six sleep programmes are designed for children aged 0-5 years and use evidence based, attachment-focused plans to provide a gentle, responsive take on tackling tricky sleepers.
Unlike some methods, The Big Sleep programme allows you to hug, hold, soothe and love your little one as much as they need. And they promise to never, ever:
- Ask you to leave your child alone
- Ask you to ignore your child
- Ask you to follow strict schedules or routines
- Go against your instinct
Find out more about The Big Sleep Family at www.thebigsleepco.co.uk
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