While I will personally be spending New Year's Eve in a drug-induced coma after traveling with my family for 2 weeks, I wanted to offer a bit of New Year's Eve advice for those of you with young children. I recently discovered a writer's website called Helium, and a debate topic offered was "Should Young Children Stay up for the New Year's Countdown?" Now, foolishly, I voted for the Yes side right away because, of course, children should be allowed to do whatever they flippin' want to from December 25 until January 1! But then I came up with a more compelling argument for the NO side, and I wasn't allowed to write from that perspective since I had already voted Yes. Apparently, they don't allow mind changes. But seriously, Helium is an awesome site with tons of opportunities to write, to earn money, and to get yourself noticed by publishers. Now, forget I said that because I don't want any competition.
Here is my opinion about whether children should be allowed to stay up for the New Year's Celebration.
Should Young Children Stay up for the New Year's Countdown?
The obvious answer to this question is that parents must decide what is best for their own children. That is not even remotely debatable since no parent wants another person – whether expert or well-meaning mother-in-law – to tell them how to raise their children!
Ultimately, however, my stance on this topic is that, unless you are a fan of screaming-toddler-induced torture, you will want to put your young ones to sleep at a reasonable hour, which is around 3 PM for my young ones. Sometimes it's 6 PM and a glass of wine. Very rarely it's 9 PM and a 5th of vodka.
Young children simply cannot appreciate the New Year's celebration. They will have very little concept of what the celebration means in the first place. The only reason to let them stay up is so that aunts and uncles and other inebriated guests can coo about how cute they are and then let them suck on empty beer bottles, in which case, your precious little angel will most likely not remain conscious until midnight anyway. You'll find your sweet baby passed out in a nice pile of laundry somewhere.
But even if your munchkin does survive until midnight, there will certainly be tears and tantrums along the way since it is simply too late for a young child to be awake. And your child might do some crying too. And no matter how late your little child goes to bed on New Year's Eve (well, I guess it's actually New Year's Day at that point) don't fool yourself into thinking she'll just sleep in the next morning– if she wakes up at 6 AM every other day of the week, she will most definitely be awake at 6 AM on New Year's Day, if not before. She will have no mercy on you, the exhausted, partied-too-much-the-night-before-and-would-die-for-a-gallon-of-coffee parents. This is just a cruel truth about raising children.
Yet another argument for not letting your young child stay up for the ringing in of the New Year: it is a well-known fact that people usually experience more fatigue after completing the second sleep cycle after a late night. (If this is not a well-known fact, then you may call it a little-known fact.) This means that if you ignore my advice and you do let your child stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve and your child seems to do well (or even so-so) on New Year's Day, do not be lulled into a false sense of accomplishment such as, “Ahh, we made it through New Year's Eve and we're not much worse for the wear.” Be on guard: you will indeed have a toddler tyrant on January 2.
Finally, since young children have not yet been gifted with the power of reason, you will not be able to use the Santa Claus trick on them: “If you do a good job on New Year's Eve, Santa will be extra good to you next year.” Since they have just made a fresh killing on a hoard of toys from Santa, this reasoning might possibly work with older children, but not on the younger naïve ones. In any case, you and I both know very well that young children haven't got a clue what it means to be good and that they will still get gobs and gobs of toys next year, no matter what we say.
So, you see, there really is no viable reason to let young children stay up for the big New Year's moment.
Unless you enjoy being punished by a 3-year-old.
Vote in my poll in the right-hand column, and have a Wonderful New Year!