I remember it well. The years of desperately trying to get everyone in bed and to sleep so that we could get on and fill stockings and put presents under the tree. There was the year that we did get them upstairs and into their bedrooms, but they were only compliant as they wanted to set up Santa traps. Then the was the year that my husband had to stay up watching a film with our eldest until gone 3am (whilst I covertly did presents) as she simply couldn’t sleep. Then there were other years of watching the clock waiting for silence to descend knowing full well how tired we’d be the next day.
Tips for helping kids sleep on Christmas Eve
It took us a while, but we did start to introduce certain things into our Christmas Eve routine, which helped.
Go for a family walk
Whilst it might be tempting to sit on the sofa devouring several family boxes of Heroes and Roses, it pays to keep active on Christmas Eve. A nice walk in the fresh air can work wonders. Exercise enhances the effects of natural sleep hormones like melatonin. Take a ball or outdoor game to give an extra boost. If you’re anything like us, you could also combine with a festive visit to the pub en route!
Christmas Eve boxes
Christmas Eve boxes can be a little divisive with some people thinking that it puts even more unnecessary pressure on already stressed parents. However, they don’t need to be expensive and just ‘more stuff’. We re-use the same box each year. I put in things designed for having a chilled out evening as well as things I’d buy for Christmas in any case. This usually includes a game we can all play (or a 1000 piece jigsaw that we can continue throughout the festive season), chocolate selection boxes or marshmallows to toast, some sleep inducing toiletries, a dress each for them to wear on Christmas day and some new snuggly PJs. This year, I’ve also added some cosy socks.
Nic Shacklock from Online-Bedrooms.co.uk also advocates them as part of a winding down routine: “Christmas Eve boxes can ease some of the excitement, making kids feel satisfied that they’ve opened some sort of gift before bed.”
Play some games
We’re huge family game fans. Christmas Eve is the prefect time to bring out our favourites as well as try out the new game that’s in the Christmas Eve box. This year, I’ve gone for a Tetris Tower balancing game, which looks like good, silly fun. After an active day, it’s a good level of stimulation for the afternoon/early evening and something else to help tire them out in a different way.
Warm and cosy evening
The evening before the big day, we prepare the hot chocolate and marshmallows from the Christmas Eve box and hunker down under blankets while watching one of our favourite Christmas films. It’s a great follow up to an active day. Cosying up on the sofa can really help settle everyone down before bedtime.
A nice warm bath before bed (using the lavender toiletries from the Christmas Eve box) is a great way to help them relax and hopefully fall sleep more quickly and easily. Often we put a face mask on to add to the calming routine.
Set a rule for present opening
We haven’t done this before, but experts at Online-Bedrooms.co.uk suggest setting a rule that presents can’t be opened until 9am or 10am on Christmas Day. This helps manage childrens’ expectations so they understand that waking up at the crack of dawn isn’t going to benefit anyone!
Fresh bedding for a good night’s sleep
Everyone loves jumping under the covers when the bedding has that lovely, fresh, ‘just been laundered’ smell. I boost with a spritz of pillow mist, which is designed to aid sleep.
Hopefully, the above tips will go some way in tempering the excitement in the build up so that everyone can enjoy Christmas Day to the fullest.
Good luck, and merry Christmas!