Portrait of a tired little girl with a Christmas hat on
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9 Tips For Getting Your Kid To Go To Sleep On Christmas Eve For Real

Santa won’t come until everyone is sleeping.

The lead-up to Christmas is the anticipatory highlight of many children’s lives. Santa is coming. Did you hear that? Santa is coming! Is it any wonder they don’t want to go to bed on Christmas Eve? The excitement is too great. But here’s the deal, you need to sleep, especially after a busy evening likely spent building toys, stuffing stockings, fake eating Santa’s treats, and generally working yourself to the bone to make it the most magical time of the year for your fam. What you need are tips to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve.

And we’ve got ‘em. No one wants to spend Christmas Eve screaming at their child to “go to bed!” So don’t. Instead, plan ahead with these hacks to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve so they’ll be so exhausted, they’ll happily crawl into bed eager for visions of sugarplums to dance through their heads.

Take your holiday stress level down a notch by prepping pre-Xmas with a game plan to tackle bedtime and reap the benefits of Christmas morn when your entire household (that means you too, mama) wake up rested and ready to celebrate one of the most special seasons of the year.


Pack the Day with Physical Activity to Wipe Them Out

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Lounging and watching holiday movies all is fun, for sure. But save that for the day after Christmas, not Christmas Eve. Your kids need to burn some energy to stave off a midnight Energizer Bunny reenactment. If there are holiday activities in your town, like caroling, walking light show tours, or family fun to be had on, say, skis or a sled, go ahead and do it Christmas Eve. All the better to wipe everyone out so that when you holler “Lights out!” there won’t be any pushback.


Tell Them Santa Won’t Come If They’re Awake

If your children are young enough to believe in Santa, then it’s not a stretch to suggest that Jolly Old Saint Nick won’t be making an appearance unless they’re tucked in with eyes securely shut. This is not to say you should stretch the truth too much, but a gentle reminder that his magic only works when kids are in deep REM could do wonders to get your kids tucked in ASAP.


Stick To Your Routine

During the holidays, it’s so easy to throw routines out the window. Candy canes for dinner? Sure. Snowsuits as formal wear to Grandma’s annual holiday dinner? Why not? Thirty page letters to Santa? Oh OK, fine. But pushing bedtime? Let that be your limit. It may sound like fun letting your little one stay up late with the big kids to watch the end of Elf, but 9 out of 10 parents agree, that’s a big mistake come Christmas Day. A cranky toddler does not a fun Christmas morning elf make.


Run An Extra Long Bubble Bath

Make relaxing on Christmas Eve a little bit more fun and special with an indulgent bubble bath. The warm water will help them wind down. You could even cue up some soothing holiday music in the background or read them a sweet story as they soak to get them to take a deep breath and chill.


If They’re Little, Insist on A Nap

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For the love of all that is holy, don’t be tempted to ditch your child’s regular nap. As the thinking generally goes, skip the nap and baby will be even more tired by bedtime. Right? Wrong! Too often, a child becomes overtired, so much so they may have a complete meltdown or not be able to naturally fall asleep. And no one has time to deal with that on Christmas Eve.


Consider a White Noise Machine

Staying with family this holiday season? Not sure how your child will react to the new sleep set up? Bring along a white noise machine or download an app, like White Noise Lite, to help calm them down. Inexpensive and easy to install, the soothing sound of white noise might be the difference between a good night’s rest and a fitful sleep sharing a room with a toddler.


Avoid Holiday Sugar Bombs

Lay off the sweets on Christmas Eve. Yes, Grandma’s no bake cookies are the single best caloric thing to happen to December, but does your child need four of them at 7 p.m.? Me thinks not. Unless you want your jacked-up five-year-old running wind sprints through the kitchen singing in higher than Mariah Carey’s signature 7th octave. If that's what you’re after, by all means, sugar your babe up.


Put Away The Electronics Well In Advance

Science has shown that all the time we spend on cellphones, tablets, and computers can affect sleep. That’s why the Sleep Foundation recommends people stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before bed. This goes for kids as well. So cut the power on gaming devices, phones, and iPads well before it’s time to turn out the lights if you want to help your kids get to sleep on Christmas Eve.


Count Down

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Don’t make bedtime punitive. If Christmas Eve bedtime is punishment, it can be a real bummer for everyone involved. Instead make it fun by turning it into a game. All day you can pretend you're counting down the hours until every gets to go to sleep, cuing Santa’s arrival. In fact, you can even challenge your children to see who can fall asleep the fastest. You’ll be amazed how a little sibling rivalry can induce some Zzzs.

Once you have tuck in time covered, don’t forget to get mama in her kerchief and papa in his cap to settle in for your own winter’s nap.