By: Jenn Kelner


5 Sleep Tips for Enjoying Thanksgiving Festivities with Children


With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, many parents are asking me how they should plan their little one’s sleep around family festivities.  Some parents like to go with the flow, but there are some effective things you can do to help your kids get through the holiday weekend with little fuss.  Follow these 5 simple sleep tips to help your children stay well rested so you can all enjoy some holiday fun.


1. Do some planning ahead of time

If your children are well rested before Thanksgiving weekend, they will adapt more easily to a change in routine and schedule.  They will be less likely to have a meltdown and if you have to travel somewhere, the journey will be easier.  Try to avoid late nights leading up to Thanksgiving and if you think they have a bit of a sleep debt, move bedtime earlier so that they have a chance to catch up on sleep.  If you’re going to be using a travel crib or playpen during the holiday, allow your child to practice sleeping in it before you go.  This will help them feel more comfortable using it when they are not in their typical sleeping environment.


2. Bring items they know and love

If your children are used to sleeping with a lovey, pacifier or stuffed toy make sure you bring it to any late night dinners or festivities.  It will help soothe them if they get cranky.  If they are going to be sleeping at your destination, bring their familiar bed sheets to use in the travel crib or playpen.  If they are used to falling asleep to white noise, bring that along as well. By bringing the items they have at home, you’ll help them feel comfortable and they should easily relax.  That being said, it’s always useful to have new toys handy to keep them occupied when they won’t settle.


3. Stick to your usual schedule and routine if possible

Where possible, make your holiday plans around your usual routine and schedule.  Make it possible for you children to nap when they usually nap, and maintain your usual naptime and bedtime routine.  If you follow your usual routine, your children will feel more comfortable and sleep more easily because they will know what to expect.  If you are travelling a long distance by car, make the journey smoother by travelling during naptime. Bring a window shade and familiar white noise to block out light and distractions and to help them sleep.


4. Be flexible

If you’ve scheduled a jammed packed Thanksgiving weekend where your children’s sleep may be temporarily disturbed, you may need to adjust your plans.  After getting less sleep than normal, your children may not be their happy selves so you might have to make some changes and allow for more time for your children to sleep, or head back home.  It’s always better to have zero expectations so that you aren’t disappointed.


5. Prepare a sleep plan for when you return home

Sometimes it’s just not possible to follow your child’s usual sleep routine, so it’s important to have a sleep plan of action for when you get home.  If your children don’t get as much sleep during Thanksgiving weekend as they usually do, plan to bring bedtime earlier for a few days afterwards until they catch up.  Try to avoid making too many plans once your return home, so that you can give your children a chance to return to their normal routine.