Holiday/Breaktime Bedtimes?

Only a few "normal" days left until Christmas and a school break for kids and perhaps for parents, too. How do you all handle bedtimes when your kids don't have to be out of the house at the same time they usually do?

Post with your kids' age, because I'm guessing this varies a lot by age.

I used to keep bedtimes as close to usual as possible, but now that my kids are what I call "grown-up kids" I let them stay up as late as they want with the understanding that they'd better be able to function the next day, or bedtime gets rolled back the next night.

Bonus question: Do you think excess sugar consumption at holidays affects your kids' sleep and general behavior?

43 thoughts on “Holiday/Breaktime Bedtimes?”

  1. Age 10, bedtime rules are suspended until the night or 2 before school starts up. She gets on a different clock at the relatives’ where she spends the break, staying up til 11 when normally she can’t make it until 10, and getting up very late.DD is not a sugar junkie, but I think that off-kilter mealtimes and snacking on appetizers rather than a meal messes things up. In the younger ages I felt that behavior annoyances were more due to the crazy anticipation of “the” big frenzied event that Christmas is to kids.

  2. In theory, bedtime is the same (8pm) at our house for our turning-3-year-old. In practice he’s been having tons of trouble falling asleep for the last month, meaning he usually doesn’t actually get to sleep until 9:30 or later. Boo.

  3. I wish we could relax about bedtimes around the holidays, but we just don’t have that kind of kid. Our 3-year-old wakes up by 6am no matter what, and frankly, if she is not in bed by 6pm (yes, 6pm)she is cranky. She will be up late on Christmas Day and I already dread her mood on December 26th.

  4. I would like to keep them on more of a schedule, but we’ll be with the in-laws who are night owls, so they will undoubtedly be late. But I don’t think it matters too much for a break of this length.I think the actual research has debunked the sugar thing, though it’s also possible there is a balancing effect – some kids behave better and some worse, for a net zero effect.

  5. We do our best to keep to bed-time routines for our 3-year old. Travelling, being in different houses, excess attention from the in-laws; that’s all enough of a disruption. Also try to restrain the sugar consumption, since it does seem to make a difference; or at least add to the other off-kilter-ness of the season.Anon: wow! 6pm. We’re lucky if we get ours to bed by 9:00. So different they all are, no?

  6. Our almost 6 year old and two year old girls go to bed at 8 most days. They get up at around 6am so that the older one can make it to school at 7:45- they are slow starters and need the extra time to get it together in the morning. When we go to family’s homes, we let them stay up until it becomes apparent that Things. are not going well. With the two year old, that is mostly at about 830, 9pm. The six year old can rock out until an ungodly time: I have had to argue with certain people (inlaws) about her inability to turn her brain off if the tv is on in her sleeping room. She’s not a human that can ignore it and fall asleep.I’ve let go of a lot of rules that are hard and fast at Home when we are with family, because everyone seems to think that we are tyrants. We are vegetarian, I limit sweets and I don’t allow my kids to drink soda or tea. We are in the south, so tea can be rather syruppy- sweet, not to mention caffeinated. Hell, I don’t even keep juice in the house, our kids prefer water. So… now we let them do whatever, except for the soda/tea rule. And the vegetarian bit.
    Sugar does affect our kids somewhat, but we just roll with it and use it to our advantage, ie timing the sugar crash to coincide with leaving so they will sleep.
    All data points are for our kids NOW. When the 6 year old was 2, most of this was in the realm of “aww, h*ll naw” because she needed for things to be routine. Any upset in her routine would mess her up for weeks, and the family-related spoiling just made her miserable.

  7. Just turned 7 year old. We’ll probably keep the same routine. No matter how late he goes to bed, his body clock wakes him up at 6am most days, so he needs his sleep. And DH and I need our alone/down time.The sugar and junk food has been flowing pretty freely since Halloween, so I don’t think the holiday excess will make much difference. Luckily, our kid doesn’t have any sleep issues (knock on wood).

  8. 3.5 year old. Normal bedtime: 7-8 p.m. Holiday bedtime: I’ll try to aim for 8-9 p.m., but will also try not to lose my cool if it’s later. Late bedtimes do mean more whining and crankiness from my LO, so I’ll just do my best.Sugar, on the other hand, is almost completely off limits. I don’t care what current research says, my special little science experiment cannot tolerate the levels of sugar in candies and icing. One homemade cookie or muffin on one day is permissible. A candy bar or piece of cake with icing are NOT a good idea, nor are multiple desserts on one day or single desserts stretched over several days.
    I’ve seen the results time and again: Approximately 72 hours of extremely bad behavior, including tantrums that make me want to call an exorcist. So, I’ll say “no” to candy canes, chocolates, all the candy my MIL will put in his stocking, and everything on the dessert table except maybe ONE cookie.
    On the upside, I’ve tricked him into thinking sugar free gum is a candy, and he LOVES fruit. Bwaa ha ha!

  9. We’ll keep the one-year-old’s schedule as-is as much as we can.. The 8 year old can stay up later and sleep later and still be okay, but we’ll have to plan roll it back a day or two before he goes back to school.Yes, the sweets affect my older child’s behavior. I’m not sure if it’s the sugar, or that fact that often the sugar comes with other stuff he doesn’t usually consume that much, or that fact that the sugar replaces other food that is better for him, or some combination. But also part of it is all of the visiting and traveling. When we get home, I know I’ll probably need to plan on having a “Grandma detox” (not that Grandma is toxic, but his behavior can become toxic after visiting our loving and well-intentioned but permissive and indulgent family). Grandma detox is a day or two of holding fast to the house rules and consequences. Some extra outdoor seems to help, too.

  10. 6 yo twins. If it’s just a regular evening at home, I keep bedtime standard (7:30-ish). If there’s some fun holiday thing, I let bedtime go. The kids are up by 6 a.m. no matter what time they go to bed, but self-regulate on an earlier bedtime the day after a late night to compensate.Our sugar consumption is not significantly higher during the holidays. I think our general behavior issues in our house have to do with anticipation/letdown, the lack of structure w/o school, and not enough time outdoors (rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain).

  11. Squirmy will one year on Christmas Day! He is on a pretty tight schedule now but if we let him stay up an hour or so later he is fine…. Well as long as he naps well during the day. Oh did I mention he is trying to drop a nap? And trying to walk? And talk? And has 4 teeth coming in? Yahoo !! Sugar not a concern yet for us but boy does Squirmy love to play and he will play and rough-house literally till he drops. I plan to use that to my advantage along with well- timed doses of baby advil for teething…

  12. My five year old usually goes to bed between 8 and 8:30, so he will probably be up until 9 with the vacation.Susan, I know it may seem unrelated, but you may want to consider an egg allergy and/or a sensitivity to Red #40.

  13. 8 yo boy, 6 yo girl.Bedtimes don’t change during holiday time. We spend most school holidays in a timezone one hour ahead of ours and although the kids go to bed an hour later on the clock, they are actually going to bed at the same time they normally do.
    I’d be happy for the kids to go to bed a little later during the holidays, but seeing they get up earlier due to the excitement of having their nonna and old toys around, they are generally more than ready to go to bed at the ‘usual’ time.

  14. 3.5. Goes nuts if it’s even 20 minutes past bath-and-bed-time, even though he sings to himself in his bed for an hour most nights. (Happy singing.) So we don’t move it much. The sugar does seem to contribute to the screaming quotient; we avoid it.The baby (14 mos) goes to bed around 9-9:30 and sleeps until 7-7:30 and he is also insane if he stays up too late.
    Also since we don’t celebrate Christmas and I would rather run a naked marathon in the snow than go celebrate it with my in-laws again, that helps keep the crazy down. 🙂
    The lack of structure during vacation drives ME nuts! Plus Bug misses his school interactions.
    When they’re older – i.e. old enough to not be INSANE if bedtime is at 8:30 rather than 8!- I intend to let them stay up later.

  15. 7 and 5. The 5 year old is very good about knowing when she is tired and needs to go to sleep, so while I might be more lax with bedtime, she’ll let me know if she’s ready to go to bed. The 7 year old has no such internal meter. I’m fine relaxing it a bit as he will sleep in, but often on nights we aren’t out we’ll aim for the same general to-your-room-time and then let him stay up and read. He’s pretty excited and that’s making it hard for him to fall asleep right now.

  16. Mine are 4 and 2. We always maintain their bedtimes strictly. The only exception we make is for traveling/jet lag. Otherwise, they both now go to bed at 7 PM. (The 4 y.o. doesn’t nap, so now he has an earlier bedtime.) Like others, mine get up at 6 AM without fail, and sometimes earlier if they go to bed late.Sugar consumption does affect them. I have to say I’m kind of looking forward to them getting older and having more relaxed schedules for holidays, and not having to worry so much about sleep and sugar. I love breaking the rules! But alas, we are not there yet.

  17. My 6.5-year-old girl cannot sleep in. She’ll do it maybe 2-3 times a year, and that’s without going to bed late, and even so, only by an hour, max. So we do our best to keep bedtime to the norm (between 7:30 and 8), because she’s sure to be up at 6 am at the latest.Christmas Eve (the main day of Christmas here in Denmark) we’ll let it go, but other than that, normal bedtime.
    She seems less affected by sugar behavior-wise than she used to, but more affected tummy-wise. So she is learning that too much sweet stuff isn’t a good thing.

  18. 8yo boy, nearly 5yo girl. We give them an extra hour to stay up (so, 9:00 is holiday bedtime in general) because our son wakes up at 6:00 a.m. regardless. His sister’s a bit more laid back and will sleep until 7: or 7:30 (luxury!)… but neither of them naps, so 9:00 is about the max. Sometimes 10 if we’re all watching a movie or something.No idea about sugar/behavior. I should pay attention to that, I guess.

  19. 4 yr old. Maintain bedtime at home. But pretty lenient when actual relatives are with us. Usually in bed by eight. When grandma is here, if behavior is acceptable, we might push to ten. Balance it out with a nap the next day.

  20. Only for about a year has my 8yo slept in to make up for a late night. He usually goes to bed at 7:45 and up at 6:30 for school. Weekends he might sleep until 7:30. He has no idea that his 11 yo brother often stays up until 9:30 even on school nights. Bedtime has nothing to do with age and everything to do with their behavior.We have a houseful of relatives coming here for New Year’s Eve. My plan is to push his bedtime back by about 15 minutes a day so that by the 31st, he can handle staying up with the bigger kids. Then we have to get him back on track before school starts up….

  21. My almost 3 year old seems to wake up with the sun (which is currently around 5-5.30 unless we’re really lucky). He still naps 3-4 days out of 7 and goes to bed as close to 7 as possible.My almost 1 year old wakes up between 6 and 6.30 most days, has 2 good naps and goes to bed between 6.30 and 7 at night.
    I don’t really make many allowances in their routine for holidays, although bedtime is getting later for Mr almost-3 because of daylight saving here in Oz…he seems to be finding it a bit harder to get to sleep due to it getting dark so much later, and I’m planning to move back his bedtime gradually as time to wind the clocks back comes closer so that we’re not waking up at 4.
    As for sugar, I’m trying to cut back on Poppy-delivered sweets but they don’t seem to effect him much. Miss almost-1 has no problems in this area as yet.

  22. Kids are 10 & 13. We will loosen up some on bedtimes for the evenings we have family or friends over but for regular evenings during the break, we will pretty much stick to the usual times for being in bed but may let them stay up a bit later to read. Since the kids wake up at the usual time no matter what time they go to bed, it just works better. Also, they will be going to work with a parent several of the days, so grumpiness is best avoided.

  23. 8 year old, always been a night owl as are we. We always relax bedtimes and wakeup times during vacations – we are all so happy to be able to sleep till 9! Mouse’s normal bedtime is 10 for an 8AM wakeup, so we try and keep her 10:30-11ish on vacay, but we’re visiting her even-more-night-owl grandma so it will probably creep towards midnight and a 10am wakeup. Which means she can be up for NYE fun if she likes, with her slightly older friends. Then she’ll just have to adjust when we get back (she’s fine – a couple hours missed sleep don’t do much much to her, she has never been very sensitive to undersleep).We don’t really sweat sugar on holidays – party on with that stocking full of chocolate, Mouse! We do try to make sure some protein and vitamins keep going in, but whatever – it’s once a year. Moderation in all things, not excluding moderation. 🙂
    **I would not have said any of the above when she was under about 5**

  24. My boys are ages 7.5 and just-turned-6. Bedtime will be exactly the same over the holidays – 7:30 p.m. I’ve found that on days off (especially weekends), my kids don’t sleep in at all and in fact, often get up EARLIER! What is the deal with that?Neither of them has ever been very successful in making up for a later night by sleeping in the next day. There was one magical vacation when my now-7.5 son was 4 & he managed to sleep in every morning…and promptly lost that ability when we got back home. It’s better for everyone involved if they go to bed at roughly the same time since they will be up early in the morning – for the adults, it’s our only non-kid time, so we need it too! I am a tiny bit more relaxed, though…sometimes it’s 7:45, ha!

  25. Oh and sugar – for my kids, it’s not so much the sugar itself (we don’t have any candy around the house, only chocolate & Christmas cookies), it’s that the sweets edge out eating something else that might be a more healthy/filling/proteiny choice, i.e., cookies in the afternoon mean dinner is not eaten as well.Also, I firmly believe that artificial food dyes DO have a big impact on my boys’ behavior, so I try to limit those as much as possible, especially for things like M&M’s & frosting & sprinkles. I’m not totally militant about it, but I’m aware that we could have repercussions if dyes are consumed. We decorate our Christmas cookies with powdered sugar or turbinado sugar. Or just eat chocolate. Next year, I’m going to buy a set of all natural food dyes.

  26. 5 yo, low sleep need. His preschool is closed Dec 17-Jan 1, so we are already dealing with the schedule change. I don’t think we’ll change his schedule much and he does better on a routine. I imagine there will be a few later nights, but he doesn’t sleep late to make up for sleep loss, so it can’t happen too often without payback. He is asleep between 7:30-8 and wakes up between 5:15-6 most of the time, with an occasional lie-in until 6:30 (heaven!).

  27. This is the first year we have really had Christmas excitement in this house. Our almost 3 yo son is just getting the Christmas=gift concept this year. In fact, this evening he asked if it is Christmas yet.I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a lot of excitement here, which does make bedtimes difficult.
    Our bedtime has not really changed, because like @Julia, my child is up very early every morning. Usually before 6 AM. We now regard anything after 6 AM sleeping in. Sad, but true. Also Hubby and I are both still working, so child still goes to day care.
    Sugar has not been too much of an issue for us. We discovered he does not like candy canes, and we limit all other sweets. I am not sure it has that much of an effect on his behavior, though. I think most of the behavior issues come from the excitement of the season, rather than the sweets.

  28. My 3 kids are 4.5, 2.5 and 5 months. Luckily, we are spending Christmas at home this year, alone, so I will be able to regulate their schedules and keep them pretty close to what we do now. Currently, I like to have the big kids in bed by 730 pm and the baby either goes to bed before them or after, depending on how his afternoon has been with naps. All 3 kids get up by 645 AM every day. The big kids go to preschool 3 days a week and have to be out the door by 815 AM. My 2.5 yr old still naps (most days) and my 4.5 yr old naps on occasion, but mostly just plays quietly in her room while the younger kids are sleeping. Nap time is my quiet time too.A few months ago I started to suspect that too much chocolate was directly affecting my kids’ behavior so I cut it out almost 100%–I just said no more chocolate, cookies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc. Not that we even ate that much of it, I’m pretty strict about a good, clean diet but a little bit each day of junk really adds up. I have felt that things have been better since eliminating sweets from daily life so it won’t really be an issue for the holidays since life will be almost like normal, just with Christmas thrown in on a Tuesday.

  29. Like @Charisse, daughter very nearly five is a night owl. And like @pennifer she has a low sleep need. Undersleeping really doesn’t affect her much at all and behaviour at school is fine.She is still a light sleeper too, and will wake up during the night very easily. In all honesty she drove me nuts as a baby ( bedtime midnight, four wake-ups a night) and as an 18 month old ( dropped naps, period) but the sleep specialist we saw with me delirious with sleep deprivation said she had a low sleep need and functions well.
    The horrendous tantrums we’ve mostly outgrown were not tiredness related, but inability to express herself ( and get her own way). Over stimulation in terms of noise and surprises and transitions are tough but she is maturing.
    Bedtime normally is 10pm asleep for 7am wake-up for school. Trying to keep to 11pm and 8am but in practice it’s midnight to nine.
    She will see in the new year; she’s seen in all of them since she was born. School’s off from December 7 until January 3 and she will cope fine readjusting. Undersleeping is not a problem so no need to ease it in.
    It’s awful but true, seem to raising a night club singer…….

  30. L is 4.5, and we generally stick to the usual bedtime (8:30), as he’s usually up between 6-6:30, no matter what time he goes to bed. In fact, if he goes to bed after 9:30, he generally has crappy sleep, and wakes up earlier. So, we try to avoid that. It’s just recently that a 9pm bedtime doesn’t result in a bad night’s sleep. All that considered, if bedtime ends up being a bit later, we just let it slide. I’ll just make the extra effort to get him to bed on time if he’s had a crappy sleep the night before. The harder thing for us is afternoon nap. Sometimes he needs it, sometimes he doesn’t. And he’ll only nap for us now if he’s in a moving car. So, there’s usually a 50% chance of a cranky end of day when he doesn’t nap.Sugar hasn’t really been a problem as he’s more of a salty guy, not one to generally overindulge, and will generally stop eating it on his own after a normal sized portion. (We still have two or three Hallowe’en candies left from his not particularly large stash. Cannot wait to be done with the candy…not putting much in his stocking this year as I’m sick of having candy around the house!). Also, like @charisse, I always get him to drink milk/eat cheese with the sweets to have that protein counterbalancing effect. Seems to work for him.
    For those silently cursing me for having a kid that is reasonable around sugar, note that we have the unfortunate corollary that the kid doesn’t generally like (and therefore won’t eat) fruit. You win some, you lose some…

  31. @Yasmara, look into “India Tree” brand sprinkles and decorations for cookies – all natural but still have fun colors.3yo is having major bedtime issues, either due to standard sleep regression, or the new baby sister, who knows. We’ve been allowing her to “read” in her room and turn off the light when she’s ready, provided that she’s quiet and stays in bed. This beats having to return her to her room a million times, tantrums, etc that we were having before. So we still do bedtime at 7, but she may stay up until 8 or so.
    This works fine for the 2 weeks she doesn’t have preschool since she can sleep in. Not sure what we’ll do in January when school is back in session. Probably just start “reading time” earlier.

  32. For my 2.5 year old we keep bedtime the same or earlier if possible because naps are crap during the holidays and I don’t want her overtired. We are lucky all our trips are day trips, so she always sleeps in her own bed.

  33. My kids are 4 3/4 and 2. My oldest is a night owl anyway and I used to give her a late bed time (for a kid) and then let her sleep in, but with school, that’s not possible. My youngest is more of a early to bed-early to rise sort. Over the holidays, if we are doing things (out, have guests, etc.) they can stay up without issue, since we can all sleep in the next morning. But if we’re home, I only let them fudge bedtime by a few minutes. I figure, bedtime is strictly enforced both to see that they get enough sleep AND to keep mommy sane! 🙂

  34. I have my 11-year old niece staying with us, she and my almost-7 year old are staying up close to midnight and sleeping until 9:30 or 10 (11yo) or 11ish (my kid, always a champion night owl!). I am certain my poor sister will pay for this next week, oy. As will we to a certain extent.But, we’ve had a fun time, lots of movie watching, family events, last night we had a 9pm DD run in our pjs. I keep stressing that we’re being all topsy-turvy because its vacation, but expect it to go back to normal after next week.
    This is the first time we’ve stayed home and both dh and I have taken time off for the winter holidays, so it is a treat to be really OFF. Just wish I had a day to myself at the end. Niece goes back on 5pm on Tuesday, work/school starts for us on Wed.

  35. I have to say that like you were into Kina right from the start I was into the Barenaked Ladies right when they first started in 1992 in Canada My roomeatms and friends and I loved them when i lived in the USA and I bought back a tape of theirs, when nobody here had heard of them

  36. hi im 26 years old,having 2years old kid im having white hair prbolem since 4 years,i think 25% of my hair is white hair,feeling very sad,did the white hair will turn to black,how much time it takes,can u suggest me which works faster

  37. thanks! when I was little my pantres did similar things (like pasting magazine cutouts on posterboard every time I brushed my teeth) so I guess it kinda carried over from my childhood. I get a little rush moving a little square of paper from one column to the next. good luck!!

  38. I’ve set some as well. They are all within reach and easy to aiveche. First, I want to get Married. This date is set for Aug. 11th. Therefore, it will be met. The second is to get my dentures. (I had oral surgery in Nov. and I’m still healing). The third is to get my drivers license. I’m 24 yrs old and I still dont drive. Crazy, right? Fourth is to finish my books I’m writing. Fifth is to expand my blog and obtain my own domain. Sixth is to QUIT SMOKING. Seventh is to organize much needed spots within my home. And eighth is to get back into shape. Thanks for sharing your goals.

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