Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday March 12th this year. We “Spring Forward”, which means that we adjust the clocks 1 hour later. The challenges that can come from this time change are 1) having to wake your kiddos up in the morning and 2) managing bedtime, as kids feel less tired and there’s more light outside. Here are some strategies on how to approach this change.
The “big bang” approach
On the morning of the big day, wake your child up at their usual time as per the “new” time (so you will wake them up an hour early – yikes – I know!). Then, follow your child’s regular schedule for sleep, meals, naps, wake up time, etc. according to the clock. If for example their bedtime was 8pm before the time change, it should be 8pm after the time change.
This approach works best for older children and/or for children that tend to adjust to changes in schedules fairly easily. If this does not fit your child, then follow a more gradual approach described below.
The gradual approach
Another option is to ease into the change by making small adjustments to your child’s sleep and wake times in the days before Daylight Saving starts. Start waking them up earlier by 15 minutes, and adjust meals, naps and bedtime earlier accordingly. Move their wake-up time earlier every day, so that by Sunday, it’ll be less of a change. For example, let’s say your child currently goes to sleep at bedtime at 7:30 pm and wake up at 6:30 am. On Thursday, wake them up at 6:15 am, with the goal of doing bedtime at 7:15 pm. On Friday, wake them up at 6 am, and do bedtime at 7 pm, and so on.
If you can’t start making those schedule adjustments prior to the time change, and you don’t have to be somewhere on Monday morning, you can still use this gradual approach starting on the day of the time change.
Regardless of the approach you choose, having an already established routine will make it easier to adjust. Don’t be surprised if bedtime takes a bit longer at first, since we are asking them to go to bed earlier than their body is used to. It’s important that they are tired at bedtime, which is why we need to adjust wake up time, naps, meals, etc. If they are not tired at bedtime, they may get more “creative”, and we want to avoid any new “shenanigans”/behaviors to turn into new habits. This is especially important for toddlers/preschoolers who have a tendency to fight bedtime to begin with. We want to make sure that this adjustment period does not turn into new undesirable habits.
Here are some more tips to help with the transition (starting Sunday):
- Wake them up from the afternoon nap if it’s happening too late and will push bedtime.
- Keep evening activities very calm – calmer than usual! We want our children to go to bed earlier, so provide less stimulating before bedtime.
- During the transition, try darkening your home an hour before bedtime. It will encourage your child to go to sleep earlier.
- Plan extra time for your bedtime routine to help your child be ready for sleep.
- Be flexible – you still need to be aware of your child’s sleepy cues and make this transition slowly if needed
- Make sure your child’s room is dark. Once Daylight Saving starts (and as Spring/Summer approaches – yes!), there’s more light in the evening (and eventually early morning). Using black out curtains or dark shades can definitely help your little one to go to sleep at night and stay asleep in the morning. And it helps with naps too. Investing in a dark room is definitely well worth it!
If you have any questions, please contact me!