Holiday Sleep Dilemma: The surprising way to handle unwanted advice

December 05, 2017

© Summer Drew

During the holidays, we hear a common sleep dilemma from moms and dads: They’re traveling or hosting and there will be plenty of well-meaning opinions in the mix. As they prepare for the festivities, they’re already anticipating the unsolicited baby advice, sideways glances of judgment, or overt comments like, “Why is she going down for a nap already? She’s not even tired!”

Parents often tell us they’ve worked hard to set up routines and schedules. But with a holiday approaching, they feel as though they’re faced with a decision to either insist on consistency and come across as rigid (she’s no fun anymore!), or throw their routines out the window and see sleep deteriorate. Either way, they often end up feeling resentful.

If you don’t know what to say when you’re trying to mesh your parenting choices with friends and family agendas, our first recommendation is to start with understanding. Acknowledge what’s underneath, which is often that these people want to spend time with you, they care, or they just want things to be as they used to. Responding to unsolicited advice with a few kind, empathic words can change the dynamic. After that, you can be clear about the reality or your plan,

I get it. I want to spend time with you too! I know, it seems different than what you’re used to, but trust me on this one. I’m going to get this baby to sleep and we’ll all have time together. The more rested we are, the more we can enjoy each other!

An empathic statement makes the other person feel heard, and keeps animosity from building.

Before the holiday is in full swing, decide what your priorities are, rather than getting stuck in the moment not knowing what to do. Maybe you’ll decide you will keep to an early bedtime (our preference, of course!). If this is the case, give your relatives a heads-up. Rather than trying to subtly hint that a 7:00pm dinner reservation doesn’t work for you, let them know before the trip or on the first day how you’ll be handling sleep, so there’s no confusion or guesswork.

Find a balance. Sometimes it takes a nod of empathy and a little explaining, but almost everyone can agree that more enjoyment and holiday fun will come from a well-rested family.


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© 2014. The Happy Sleeper.
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Photography by Summer Drew.

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