Managing meltdowns: How to keep your child on a schedule this holiday season

OWATONNA, Minn. 12/20/2017 — Travel, late nights, early mornings, odd-hour meals — the holidays are always an exciting part of the year, but they can also be stressful, especially when it comes to children being off sleep schedules. According to Heather Krenke, supervisor, Owatonna Hospital’s Sleep Center, “There are still ways to maintain a realistic schedule, so all can enjoy the holiday festivities.”

Tips for managing meltdowns and avoiding the dreaded Grinch-like behavior:
1. A family get-together can make naptime impossible and inconvenient.
There’s no way around it — inevitably, some deviation from a normal naptime schedule will happen during the holidays. “It’s unavoidable, given the amount of travel and visiting with family and friends,” says Krenke. Some babies and toddlers find it difficult to settle down for naps when they are in an unfamiliar place, and there is a lot going on to rouse their senses.

Krenke suggests, “Build some quiet time in to your day; also try and scout out or phone ahead to the place you’ll be visiting to find a less noisy location for your child.”

2. The holidays always make it more difficult for children to go to bed at a decent time for fear of missing out.
During the holidays — given the hustle and bustle — there seems to be more access to technology while children are on their holiday breaks from daycare and school. Plus, if there are extra guests around, this creates extra stimulation. “There’s no reason not to continue using your schedule from home,” says Krenke. “If you’re staying in a hotel or with friends and family, try using a white noise machine and make sure to bring familiar items from home to help your child relax.”

3. Little ones might wake up early, even though they stayed up way past the normal bedtime.
This is so common during the holidays — kids want to be just as much part of the fun as the adults. However, Krenke adds, “This can be a sign of overtiredness.” Watch for any signs your child may be sleepy: yawning, rubbing his or her eyes, losing interest in activities and even nodding off.

Krenke suggests, “When you’re starting to notice those sleep cues, start the bed and/or naptime routine, before your child gets too wound up that he or she can’t fall asleep.”

People who think sleep irregularities might be part of a bigger problem, information on sleep studies can be found at or by calling 507-977-2190.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services.