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Trick or Treat: Surviving Halloween With Your Sleep Routine Intact

(child in costume eating candy). Halloween can wreak havoc with your child’s sleep schedule. Use our tips to stay on track so everyone feels rested.

Ah, Halloween! A night of costumes, candy, and… bedtime chaos? We all want our kids to revel in the magic of this spooktacular holiday. But there’s a real horror story lurking: the prospect of sleep-deprived munchkins wreaking havoc for days. Fear not, this blog aims to equip you with tips and tricks (no pun intended) to balance the fun with good sleep habits. Because nobody wants a zombie kid after Halloween—unless it’s a costume, of course. 

Planning Ahead

Okay, folks, let’s not wing this. A bit of planning can mean the difference between a night of fun and a next-day nightmare of cranky, sleep-deprived kiddos. Here’s what you need to think about.

Choose your time wisely

Timing is crucial on Halloween night. Trick-or-treating usually kicks off around 5:30 to 6:00 pm and you should plan to wrap things up not too far past your kiddo’s regular bedtime. Why? Straying more than 30 minutes beyond the usual lights-out time can result in a sleep deficit. That’s a fancy way of saying your child will be short on snooze time that cannot be made up in one day. 

Pick your route

Ah, the route. That seemingly minor detail that can turn a delightful outing into a drawn-out ordeal, not to mention get you home late. Choose a path that’s not too long, but also not too short; you want your little ones tired but not overstimulated.

Pre-bedtime chat

Before the costumes go on, sit down with your kids and have a heart-to-heart about the plan for the night. Let them know that tonight is an exception to the rule, a one-off. Explain that they’ll need to head straight to bed after the festivities to recharge for the next day. The idea is to set expectations early, so that when the clock strikes bedtime, they’re ready to call it a night. 

Rest up

Setting the stage for a fun-filled Halloween starts in advance. Make it a point that your child is well-rested, so if your little one still naps, don’t even think about skipping it. In fact, letting them nap a bit longer could be your secret weapon. A well-rested child is a happier trick-or-treater and will find it easier to wind down when the capes and masks come off. 

Halloween Night

Alright, the big night finally arrived. A few smart choices can make the evening go much more smoothly.

  • Candy moderation: Halloween and candy are a classic duo, but moderation is key. Stick to 2 to 3 treats to avoid giving the kids a sugar high that prevents them from falling asleep once back home.  
  • Dinner planning: Dinner before the fun is crucial. It steadies energy levels and prevents the dreaded ‘hangry’ meltdown. Make it quick but filling.
  • Costume tips: Think ahead with the costumes. Pajamas as a base layer make for an easy switch to sleep mode. Just remove the accessories, and they’re good to go straight to bed.

Bedtime Routine Adaptations

So you’ve survived the trick-or-treating, navigated the sugar highs, and are back home. Now comes the final act: bedtime. But tonight’s not a typical night, so let’s get into how you might need to remix that bedtime routine to fit the evening’s events. 

The case for a shorter routine

Let’s be real. After a night of trick-or-treating, kids are usually tuckered out and ready for bed. So it might be wise to fast-track that bedtime routine, which you already got started on by having them dressed in their PJs. A quick toothbrushing session, a fast story, and straight into the covers.

If your kid loves their routine and has certain non-negotiables—like belting out a Frozen tune—make sure to keep that in. If bath time is usually a must-have but can’t fit into tonight’s compressed schedule, have a chat with your little one ahead of time. Let them know that even though tonight is special and bath time will be skipped, it’ll be back in the routine tomorrow. This way, they’re prepared for the change and less likely to resist other parts of the bedtime plan. Like actually going to bed, for example.  

The case for an extended routine

Instead of a sleepy-head ready to hit snooze, you might have a little one that consumed one too many sugary treats, got jazzed up by the lights and decorations, and is bouncing off the walls. 

Now what?

Consider extending the bedtime routine to help them wind down. Maybe read an extra chapter of their favorite book, or add a calming bath to the routine. The idea is to use this extended time to dial down the excitement and help transition from the adrenaline high to a peaceful night’s sleep. 

Be flexible

No two Halloweens—or kids, for that matter—are the same. What worked last year may not fly this time around. Be ready to adapt your bedtime routine based on how the night unfolds. If they’re cranky, maybe skip the second book; if they’re hyper, perhaps add a quiet activity like coloring to ease them into sleep mode. Keep an eye on the cues your child is giving you, and don’t be afraid to change course. 

Next Day Adjustments

So, Halloween is over and now it’s time to get back to the usual routines. Easier said than done, right? Don’t be surprised if the kids are up earlier than usual, excited to relive the night’s adventures. 

Expect early wakeups

Don’t be shocked if the kiddos are up and at ’em earlier than their usual wake-up call. The excitement from Halloween and a slightly off-kilter schedule can lead to early morning risers. Stick to the usual wake-up routine as much as possible to help everyone get back on track. 

Adjust naps and bedtimes

If you notice the little ones are dragging their feet more than usual, it’s a sign. Consider moving their naptime or bedtime a tad earlier for a day or two. A slight adjustment, like 15 to 20 minutes earlier, can help them catch up on the sleep they missed. Trust us, a little catch-up can go a long way in resetting their internal sleep clocks. 

Conclusion

Halloween is one of those special nights that can make childhood magical. Going a bit off schedule isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s often these little detours that make life rich and memories lasting. The key is making sleep a priority the rest of the time so that when these special nights roll around, everyone can enjoy them to the fullest.

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