Every Christmas, children dream of toys and treats, and magical reindeer that fly Santa through the sky. Parents have slightly different dreams: they dream of kids who go to bed early and don’t awake Christmas morning at the crack of dawn. Sleeping late on Christmas may be an impossible dream, but getting them to go to sleep may not be if you follow some simple tips.

  • Establish an active tradition on Christmas Eve. Throw a big party, take your kids ice skating, or go on a family walk to look at Christmas lights. Getting them good and tired during the day and early evening is a great way to make them want to go to bed at night.
  • Lay off the sugar and caffeine. Ok, so this may be easier said than done in the holiday season, where goodies are abundant everywhere and hot chocolate is the beverage du jour. Still, all that sugar and caffeine can keep kids up late. While you’re creating traditions, why not make warm milk and a healthy snack part of the Christmas Eve bedtime routine. Reading “The Night Before Christmas” while your little ones munch on apple slices and cheese is a great way to get them cozy and ready for bed.
  • Stick as close to the normal schedule as possible. It’s tempting to let kids stay up late on Christmas Eve, but disrupting bedtime can lead to kids being overtired and that can keep them awake even later. Whatever you normally do, try to do it on Christmas Eve, so that kids are bathed and in their Christmas jammies at a reasonable hour. If you think you’ll have trouble getting them to wind down,
  • If you decide to do something special, make sure it’s conducive to winding down before bedtime. Reading stories in front of a fire? Yes. Watching a movie with scary scenes, like A Christmas Carol? No. You don’t want to get the kids’ adrenaline flowing just when you want them to calm down.
  • Don’t be afraid to pull out a classic parent line. “Santa can’t come until you’re asleep” is a perfectly reasonable thing to say, even if it’s a bit clichéd.

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