A Family-Friendly New Year

by Ylonda Gault Caviness

A Family-Friendly New Year

For two years running, Paige Hampton, 11, of Olympia Fields, IL, has begged her parents to let her stay up to ring in the New Year. But each time, hours before the ball dropped in Times Square, she dropped—off to sleep.

Most kids can't keep their eyes open past midnight until they're 10 or 11, says Stephen Sheldon, M.D., director of Chicago Children's Memorial Hospital's Sleep Medicine Center. To make this New Year's Eve one you can enjoy with your child, no matter when the party starts:

Obey the sandman 

Never push your child to stay up later than she's able, especially if you know that she'll need serious recovery time—say, she usually moans and groans about getting out of bed in the morning. One night of fun isn't worth the jolt to her routine.

Don't dwell on midnight 

Celebrate on New Year's Day so your child doesn't feel she's missing out if she falls asleep too early the night before. A special brunch or supper can be just as festive as a late-night bash.

Get her involved 

If you're throwing a party, let her invite over a friend, help choose the music, or suggest a favorite food for the menu.

Focus on family time 

No matter how you spend December 31, start a tradition you'll all look forward to, year after year.