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Thanksgiving Day + Sleep

I know I say this with every holiday, but seriously… How is Thanksgiving 1 week away?! 2022 just started and we are already preparing for the Holidays! Time goes way too fast.

While I know many parents love experiencing this time of year through the eyes of their children, I also know the worry parents have when it comes to big schedule changes, like holiday gatherings. In this blog, I walk you through several options on how to approach your child’ sleep on Thanksgiving. I know what may work for one family may not work for yours, so choose the option that is best for your family and confidently move forward with that plan!

If you are going to someone’s home:

If going to someone’s house call ahead and ask if they have a space where you can put your little one down for a nap and if they would mind if you brought along a pack n’ play to set up. If yes, then be sure to bring the PNP, along with other helpful sleep items, like a travel white noise, sleep sack, and familiar comfort items. If you need to help your little one to sleep because of the extra stimulation and noise, that’s okay! Do what you need to do to get the nap in.

If there is not room available for a Pack n’ Play, ask if you can go into another room to rock your little one to sleep. Even if you don’t normally do contact naps, on a day where the schedule is a little whacko, a contact nap is definitely okay. Enjoy those extra snuggles!

Try for at least 20 minutes and if the nap doesn’t happen – pivot! Skip the nap, power through the day, enjoy your family, and plan for an early bedtime or bedtime as soon as you get home.

If you live close by:

Go home for nap time. Your child will always sleep best in their own sleep space. If you live close by, it may be worth it for you to just go home, get in a quick nap and return to the party after. If this is not possible, refer back to option 1.

If you are hosting:

If friends and family are coming to your home for the day, depending on your child’s age, they don’t necessarily need to be present for all Thanksgiving activities, so you can choose keep your child’s schedule the same.

For older children or if you If you want your child to be present for certain activities, then you can be flexible and move the nap later if needed. That’s up to you! It’s okay to pivot from your normal structure and routines on special days. It’s one day. Make the memories and get back on track the next day!

Other Approaches:

Prioritize one nap of the day. If your child is on multiple naps, make one nap the priority. If you know you’ll have a busy afternoon, prioritize the morning nap or vice versa.

Allow for a car nap. If you know you are going to have a drive, allow your child to snooze in the car. It will not be the most restorative sleep, but it will do for one day.

Early Bedtime. This is your secret weapon for off days. Whether all your attempts were a flop or even if your child had a little nap, an early bedtime will be a must. When day sleep is missed or slightly off, an early bedtime of at least 30-60 minutes will help your child make up for the lost sleep. Do a mini bedtime routine, skipping the bath and focusing on getting into bed within 5-10 minutes of arriving back at home.

Just go with it. It is okay to just go with the flow! Sleep may be off for a day or two after as they catch up, but if you go straight back into your normal routines and do 1-2 nights of an early bedtime, you’ll be back on track in no time!

Whichever option you choose, make the decision ahead of time and move forward in that plan with confidence. You might receive some pushback or some not-so-nice comments – that’s okay. You are the parent. You get to make the decision that is best for you AND your child.

What I want you to remember most of all: enjoy your day. While I am passionate about sleep, I also am passionate about having fun and making memories with your family and friends. Even if sleep is off, don’t sweat it. You will get back on track tomorrow.


Are you feeling like you have had endless days of off sleep? I would love to chat! Contact me here to discuss a plan that will get your sleep back on track.


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