It’s almost that time of the year for daylight saving time! And this one can be a tough change.
Daylight Saving Time will end on Sunday, November 5th. I remember when “falling back” just meant an extra hour of sleep! I’m sure it will mean that again one day but for those of us with small children, it can just mean schedules that are thrown off, your kids waking super early, and everyone feeling grumpy for several days or longer. Every child is different and the time change will affect some much more than others. It is important to know your child and what she can handle and to have a plan for how you want to deal with the time change.
There are different ways to make the transition:
Cold Turkey Approach:
Basically, on Sunday, you will use your regular schedule but do everything according to the new clock time. I really only recommend this approach if your child is older than two and seems to have an easier time with changes/transitions. Admittedly, this is usually the approach I take and my children adjust relatively quickly. Maybe it’s because they are well-rested or because I stay consistent. Whatever the reason, I’m not complaining!
For children younger than two, or children who have a harder time with changes/transitions it’s better to make the switch gradually. If you think she will have a really hard time with the transition you could start moving the times later by 10-15 minutes a night during the week before the change. If you want to move bedtime later by 15 minutes a night, you will want to start on Wednesday, the 1st. If you want to move bedtime later by 10 minutes a night, you will want to start on Monday, October 30th. Make sure to move naps later on the same days.
Or if you just want to work on the transition for a couple of days, then on the day before the switch (Saturday) move nap times and bedtime just slightly later. Naps might be about 15 minutes later than usual and bedtime might be a half hour later than usual. This shouldn’t be a problem for many families since Halloween is the night before! Use your intuition about what your child can handle and of course, don’t let your child get too overtired and miss her sleep window.
Regardless of which option you choose, by Sunday evening you will be back at your child’s usual bedtime (according to the new clock).
Tips no matter which approach you use:
- Make naps a priority during the week leading up to and after the time change.
- On Sunday morning, and sometimes for several days or even weeks after the change, children may wake up earlier according to the new clock time. It is very important that you are consistent about not letting your child get up and start their day before 6 am. I highly recommend blackout curtains if you don’t have them!
- Getting fresh air and exposure to bright light for about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning will help reset her internal body clock.
- Try to do everything according to the new clock time starting Sunday. This means all meals and sleep times. If your child is exhausted, it’s okay to let her go to bed 15 minutes or so earlier than usual. Just try to make it as close as possible to the regular schedule according to the new clock.
- Just like adults, kids may not feel like themselves for a few days or so after the change. But the truth is that most people adjust within about a week no matter which approach you take. Stay consistent according to the new clock times and things should “Fall” into place!