Twas the night before Christmas…
Mums, dads, step-parents, carers and guardians all over the UK may well be having a sigh on Christmas Eve as they struggle to get excited little ones into bed, never mind persuading them that sleep might be a good idea.
Make it Easy
Here at Selwood, we feel your pain! Our children are just as excited. To be honest, the level of excitement has been slowly ratcheting up since mid-November and it is now reaching fever pitch so we’re already mulling over ways that we can make Christmas Eve as easy as possible.
Television viewing late at night does not help either children OR adults sleep because the light the TV set emits fools the eye and the brain into thinking it is still daylight outside and we are programmed to feel sleepy the darker it is, so it might be an idea to minimise TV viewing on Christmas Eve or, at least, try to ensure the TV is switched off an hour or so before bedtime.
Outdoor Play to Tire Them
A little healthy exhaustion from outdoor play can help too. Obviously, this depends on how kind the weather is to us at this time of year (by no means guaranteed…) but if you can all get out for a walk or you can get the children out for an hour or so on their climbing frame, then this will contribute to tiredness later on.
Stories told in bed, perhaps winter or Christmas related are something that children’s unconscious minds associate with going to sleep. Our favourites are Twas the Night Before Christmas poem (obviously!), The Elves and the Shoemaker, Rudolph and the Red-nosed Reindeer and A Christmas Carol, but you might also want to include the Nativity Story on Christmas Eve.
He’s Behind You
You might be considering a Christmas pantomime and a Christmas Eve matinee showing might also work as sedative for sleeping purposes later on. Pantomimes look for a lot of audience participation can mean tired children following all the concentration needed to spot when the villain is just BEHIND you.
Christmas Day dietary rules are often free for alls and no doubt, there will be chocolate and other sweet treats a plenty on the day. On Christmas Eve, though, it might be wise to limit such sweet treats to ensure a long and settled sleep the night before such indulgences. A healthy dinner might be a vegetable soup and wholemeal rolls, followed by a glass of milk, for example. Or you could serve up a homemade beef or chicken casserole with mashed potatoes and finished off with a little fruit and yoghurt.
Even though it is Christmas Eve, it is still wise to follow the same bedtime routine – we recommend getting the children into their pyjamas, brushing teeth and tucking them up at their usual time. The only difference should be, perhaps, leaving some mince pies and a small sherry out for Santa and making sure stockings are attached to the end of beds.