Most kids can’t wait to become adults. From their point of view, we have all the freedom in the world, and no one is accountable to us (if they know the truth). New Years Eve is a perfect example. We adults can stay up until midnight, clink champagne glasses and celebrate with no time for sleep.
Kids may not understand how we feel, but skipping bedtime to welcome in the New Year is a tradition that can make them feel grown up. Is it a good idea to put your kids to bed this late? If you do, how do you fill those extra hours with fun kid-friendly activities?
Ahead, experts shared their advice.
Is it okay for the kids to stay up until 12 o’clock on New Year’s Eve?
Christine Stevens, a Washington, D.C.-based sleep consultant and owner of Sleep Solutions by Christine, doesn’t think it’s a big deal for kids to be past bedtime on New Year’s Eve.
“It’s that one night of the year,” she said, “it’s a fun thing to do when you know they’re ready.
How do you know if they are ready? While there’s no specific age at which kids can handle a late night, somewhere between 7 or 8 is a good start, Stevens said. Every child is different, but if they sleep well and generally handle sleep schedule changes without major meltdowns, they’re probably ready.
Should you catch up on lost sleep the next day?
If you do keep your kids awake, Stevens recommends keeping New Year’s Day plans to a minimum and letting the kids relax at home. Kids tend to have a harder time recovering from sleep deprivation than moms and dads, she notes.
“The best thing to do the next day is have a little day,” she says. “Have a little break and encourage them to take a nap if they’re tired.”
Should you try the earlier “countdown” instead?
Another solution is to ring in the new year at a time that more closely coincides with their normal bedtime.
“Countdowns on streaming services are great options,” Stevens said of the various New Year’s Eve countdowns offered through services like Netflix and YouTube. “You can watch the ball drop at 4 or 5 p.m. instead of putting them to sleep.”
We put them to bed, but the neighbors are throwing a party. what should we do?
You might be able to control when your child falls asleep, but you can’t control fireworks, loud parties or neighbors banging pots and pans on the street.
Stevens shares solutions for helping kids fall asleep on noisy nights.
“The best thing you can do is put a white noise machine in your child’s room to muffle some of the sound,” she advises.
Stevens recommends placing the white noise machine near the noise you’re trying to block out, not near your child. “If you live on a busy street, put a white noise machine near a window,” she explains. “If you’re having a party in your own home, put it near their bedroom door to block noise from the hallway.”
Help! We Need Ideas For Fun New Years Eve Kids Activities
No matter when you choose to celebrate, there are plenty of party activities you can incorporate into your celebration that don’t involve drinking champagne or kissing complete strangers.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has hosted “Countdown to Noon” for more than a decade. Some of the museum’s festivities — including a countdown to noon, live music, crafts and lots of confetti — can be done at home, said Melissa Trumpe, the museum’s director of public events and family programs.
“Families can create a paper time capsule by writing down their favorite movies or books from the past year, any special trips, and [the best] family memories [of the year] on slips of paper,” Trumpey said. “We had them take pictures in front of our ‘Happy New Year’ banner and put it on the front of the capsule.”
At home, you can use a recent family photo or snap a photo in front of a homemade holiday backdrop, then use a small jar, paper bag or envelope as a “capsule”.
Another popular activity at the museum is learning to say “Happy New Year” in various languages and then finding the countries that speak that language on a map. “We also did a campaign based on time zones to show how people celebrate New Years at different times,” Trump said. “For example, at 8 a.m. in Indianapolis, it’s midnight in Australia, and they’re already celebrating.”
How can kids make New Year’s resolutions that actually stick?
From losing extra pounds to reducing our workload, most adults have made resolutions that we don’t keep. So, is it a good idea to let your kids make New Year’s resolutions? According to Reena Patel, a licensed educational psychologist and author of “Winnie and Her Worry,” there may be benefits.
“The resolution gave us a sense of purpose,” Patel said. “They can boost self-esteem, help you prioritize where to spend your efforts, and ground you in times of uncertainty and change.”
The key to success is helping kids make achievable, measurable resolutions.
instead of saying. “I want to read more books,” or, “I want to be nice to my sister,” says Patel, encouraging kids to make more realistic, explicit resolutions, such as, “I’m going to start with my favorite book every day.” Read a chapter in the book, “Or, “I’m going to be nice to my sister, share my toys every day and ask her if she wants to play with them.”
“A resolution needs to be very specific so that you know exactly when you’ve reached it. Be as clear as possible when determining what you’re trying to achieve,” advises Patel. “Focus on progress over perfection and have them do regular ‘check-ins’ so they can track their progress as they work towards their goals.”
What about family resolutions?
As an alternative to traditional resolutions, Patel also recommends creating a family mission statement.
“It’s a more meaningful way for your family to come up with goals and values that are important in your family,” she says.
To do this, schedule a time where everyone in your family can discuss your family mission statement. “Have everyone write down one value or characteristic that you think is important to represent your family,” says Patel. “Read them all aloud, look for any patterns or recurring themes, and use these to create a list of family values that includes everyone’s input.”
When you’re done, hang your family mission statement where everyone can see it as a reminder of your shared values for the year.