Winter is coming to an end. (Well, maybe not outside, but the calendar says spring is coming soon!) And that means that the spring time change is just around the corner. Springing forward tends to be a bit a bit easier to take as parents. There's a good chance that your early riser will now sleep until a decent hour in the morning!
The struggle some of us face with daylight savings time, however, is that it's no longer going to be dark at bedtime. I remember last year my daughter telling me it couldn’t be bedtime because it wasn’t even dark out yet. Now you'll have to try harder to make it nice and dark - and stick with your regular bedtime routine - no matter what the sun is doing outside! Please keep in mind that your little one has a wonderful internal clock that will need to be reset with the time change. It is your job as parents to help them get on track with the new clock.
Although it's really tempting to enjoy a nice sleep in with the kids – your best bet is to help them get on track right away. This is especially important if your kids go to school or daycare, because on Monday, they won’t have the choice - they'll have to wake up early. (This year, the time change falls right in March Break for us so we have the luxury of time – but it's not true for all working families!) If you have March Break off then chances are things may be off with your kids routines anyways and you'll have to crack down as soon as you get home.
When it comes to the time change, try to pick an approach that will suit your children’s needs in order to help them adapt to the change. Here are two different approaches to dealing with daylight savings time and some tips to help ease the transition, too.
1. Jump Right In
If your child is easy going then the time change can be as simple as jumping into the new time like nothing happened. Push through the first few nights to get bedtime and morning time on track with the new clock. Be prepared to wake them up at their regular wake up time and push them to stay up until as close to their regular bedtime as possible. You may find your child fighting naps and bedtime a bit because everything is technically happening an hour earlier but they will get back on track if you remain consistent with the new timelines.
2. Slow & Steady
If your child is sensitive to times and seems to have a really good internal clock, then you may have to tackle the time change a bit more gradually. You will want to plan ahead for this to work. At least 3 days before daylight savings time (more if your child is really sensitive to the clock) you will want to adjust your routine by 15 minutes. Start in the morning by waking your child 15 minutes earlier than usual. Aim for an earlier nap time and an earlier bedtime by only 15 minutes. Repeat each night by added an extra 15 minutes.
Finally on the actual daylight savings time (Sunday) you will adjust to the new clock and only have to alter your child’s routine by an additional 15 minutes.
Tip 1: Set The Environment for Good Sleep
No matter what technique you pick, having a good sleep environment will help with the adjustment to the time change. Keep in mind that with Daylight Savings Time brings sunshine in the morning and sunshine at bedtime, this is where an investment in good black out blinds is worth its weight in gold! You really want to make sure that it is nice and dark in your child’s room to increase the chances of falling asleep and staying asleep in the early morning hours. Another great tool to help with the increased daylight hours is a white noise machine. More sunlight hours means people are staying outside later, playing, doing yard work etc… making noise and when the sun comes up nice and early in the morning the little birdies come out and sing some beautiful morning songs. In order to help block all this new noise out for your little ones use some good white noise, running continuously until morning wake up time.
Tip: Don’t over think it!
Children are fairly adaptable so although the numbers on the clock may have changed if you keep their routine similar then chances are you will be able to set the tone for good sleep and get them on track quickly.
Lori is a mom of 3 kids 5 and under and a Certified Sleep Consultant at Good Night Sleep Site Northern Ontario. She is also a Registered Social Worker with a background in Child and Youth Development. She has worked with families in a variety of settings over her career. When struggling with sleep issues with her own kids she developed a passion for learning about sleep and enrolled in the Certified Sleep Consultant program with the Family Sleep Institute. She now loves working with families to help them get the sleep that everyone needs! Find her on: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.