Get Ready to Fall Back!
Daylight saving time produces a ton of questions (and anxiety) for many moms and dads. Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep in the spring! Either way, adjusting to an even slightly deviated schedule can be tricky and feel overwhelming for some, so here's a few tips on how to thrive through the time change.
My advice is to “split the difference.”
For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents (if you can) is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Trick yourself. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
Now, let's talk naps. If, say, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap and so on... all the way to bedtime.
If your child usually goes to bed at 7:00pm I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30pm for the first three days following the time change. This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child and it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this.
It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust to any kind of change in sleeping habits. Think about if you've ever started a new job and had to adjust your sleep schedule because of it. In about a week's time, your body has adjusted to the new "norm," given of course, that you've been consistent with your new schedule. My husband, for example, used to be up and out the door for work by 7:00am. Even on weekends, his body would naturally awake around 6:00, because that's what it was "trained" to do. He would then be dozing off watching baseball (or whatever other sport was in season) by 9:30pm. Now, with a new job where he works from 11:00am-11:30pm, he struggles to settle himself and
go to bed before midnight. It took some doing, but his body adjusted accordingly.
BACK TO BUSINESS -
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.
If you are dealing with a baby, you obviously cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
Best of luck and, as always, sleep sweet!