skip to Main Content

How to Handle Sleep Critics

The holidays are in full swing! The trees are up, the hot cocoa recipe is perfected, and we are preparing to fill our bellies with turkey and our hearts with memories. It’s completely understandable if you feel some mixed emotions about family gatherings. It’s nice to get the family together to exchange gifts, play games, and gather for a feast but family gatherings also come with an abundance of criticism and expectations. Your family may criticize you for all sorts of things and I’d love to offer advice on how to handle it all. But since I’m your pediatric sleep consultant I’m going to give you some tips on how to handle sleep critics. You know the ones…the ones who criticize you for prioritizing your child’s sleep.

Let’s talk through some scenarios:

Scenario 1: The bedtime sleep critic

It’s Christmas Eve, your family is having their annual Christmas get-together, dinner finished at 6:30 and your child goes to bed at 7:30. As much as you hate to eat and run but baby Joey relies on this early bedtime. You have another busy day tomorrow and don’t want to have an overtired baby. You politely tell everyone that you enjoyed dinner but need to head out so Joey can get to bed on time. Your Aunt Karen pipes up and says “one late night won’t kill him, just stay until we finish Christmas karaoke”.

How to handle this sleep critic:

While Aunt Karen may not be wrong that one late night won’t cause long term harm. If you don’t feel like dealing with the repercussions of the late night the next day, then you can do what you feel is best for Joey. “I really would love to stay Aunt Karen, but Joey needs his rest tonight”. And that’s all you need to say. You can thank me later for saving you from karaoke!

Scenario 2: The naptime sleep critic

It’s Christmas day, the kids are buzzing with the excitement of Christmas morning (and a few too many cookies), nap time is coming up for Tara, so you excuse yourself to put her down for a nap in her crib. Grammy pipes up “Oh it’s Christmas and she’s having so much fun, just let her skip the nap today”.

How to handle this sleep critic:

Laugh it off “trust me Grammy, she will have more fun if she takes this nap”. You know that an overtired child is not much fun at all but Grammy has probably forgotten. It’s been a while since she had little ones! No need to argue or educate, just bring Tara for her nap.

Basic Guidelines for Handling Sleep Critics

Whatever sleep critic you have to face over the next couple weeks follow these guidelines.

  1. Don’t argue: You aren’t going to change anyone’s mind. So, there’s no need to get into the ins and outs of why you prioritize your child’s sleep (even though it’s Christmas).
  2. Do what you feel is best: You do not need to please Aunt Sally or Grammy. You know what your child’s needs are and it’s okay to prioritize them.
  3. Don’t take it personally: Your families may not even realize that their remarks come off as critical, maybe they don’t have kids. Whatever the reason, don’t take it personally. You know why you are prioritizing sleep and you don’t need to defend yourself to anyone.

Final Tip!

I also find it helps to have a therapeutic eye-roll, preferably where people can’t see you do it. When Grammy starts going off about how Tara is missing out on the cousin fun because she’s napping, just step into the washroom and have a good, quality eye-roll. Trust me, it really does help with the sleep critics. And it may just help with all the other things your well-meaning relatives will criticize you about this Christmas. So there you have it, I told you I could only offer advice on handling the sleep critics but this last piece may be the strategy for handling it all.

Read more…

I know that you want to have flexibility during the holidays while also maintaining some level of stability. Read more about how to prioritize sleep during the holidays, while being flexible here. We both know that you need to prioritize your child’s sleep to some extent even during the holidays so you can prevent overtiredness.

May your Christmas be all that you want it to be! If that includes sleep, then all the power to you! Don’t let the sleep critics sway you away from what you feel is right for your littles.

Back To Top