Make the best of longer days when the time change arrives
Pre-kid, you never really thought about Daylight Saving Time (what’s an hour here or there?). But kids can make this seasonal change a challenge. With the beginning of Daylight Saving coming up soon (Sunday, March 12), springing forward means it stays lighter longer, which can mess with your kids’ bedtime schedule (and your Netflix binge-watching sessions).
Before you set your clocks forward an hour, read on for some tips and tricks for keeping that precious, tenuous sleep/wake routine in place as we gain an hour of daylight.
Bit by bit. You can try moving back their bedtime for a few days leading to the time change. This will help set your kids’ little clocks before the big day so it won’t be a total big shock. Consider arming them with a cute (and practical) alarm clock to help make the transition a bit easier. Care.com recommends 15 minutes for babies, 20 minutes for toddlers ages 1 and over, and 30 minutes for school-aged kids.
Be consistent. If sleep time comes later, that means waking up time will, too. If you’re letting time creep up a few days before, do the same with wake-up time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. Their entire day from top to bottom should feel the same, even if you’re adjusting and fudging with timing. They shouldn’t even notice a change, especially if they’re too young to tell time.
Wear them out. Kids who get plenty of exercise during the day are less likely to fight bedtime, regardless of whether it’s dark outside. If there’s a toddler in your home, take advantage of the longer day by spending time in the yard or playing a game that gets them moving. With older kids, extra-curricular activities or playdates with a friend should do the trick.
Eat earlier Although it’s tricky with workday schedules (because we don’t get off an hour earlier, do we?), if you can bump dinner up each night, it will help your kids’ internal clocks. Be sure to offer toddlers their afternoon snack a little earlier, and move your baby’s feeding schedule up if possible.
Adjust the lighting in their room. That internal clock concept is real—no one wants to go to bed when it’s light outside. Avoid this bedtime battle by drawing the shades and turning off the ceiling light (go for mood lighting with a table lamp) anywhere from an hour to 30 minutes before they’re in bed.
Ignore it. Not the best strategy, but if you keep chugging along, so will they. Just switch everything on the day of, and move on. Kids are resilient. Just try to keep their routine (mostly) intact.
Spend as much time in natural light as possible. Getting on the same rhythm as the day helps with energy and mood, especially after the dark winter months. During spring daylight savings, it’s recommended that you open the window shades first thing when you wake up your kids. The sunlight will help tell them that it’s time to get up.
Be realistic. Your child may not even notice a slight change or they may go bonkers. But it’s important to remember to listen to them, understand why they’re upset, and work from there. Children are each so different—who knows how they’ll each react or even how one will react from year to year!
Be sympathetic. Remember to put yourself in your kids’ shoes and stay calm if they’re a hot mess for a few days. By staying calm, you’ll help kids adjust to spring daylight savings in no time.