The end of daylight saving time is upon us…in fact today is the day you want to think about it most if you have children in your house. Here’s why: prepping for the transition may save you some pain, and some sleep. Although a one-hour shift in time may not seem a big deal to adults, many of us with young children have learned the hard way that this transition isn’t as easy for toddlers and young children — often “falling back” doesn’t equate to an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. Some things in life are definitely NOT guaranteed during parenthood.
Dr. Maida Chen, director of the Pediatric Sleep Center here at Seattle Children’s says it perfectly. “The first thing to know is that younger children, especially, are not going to budge their ‘body clocks’ just because the time on the clock face changes. As a parent, be prepared for an earlier morning start on Sunday and Monday.”
Can 30 Minutes Make A Difference?
Would cutting the difference help (i.e prepping for the 1-hour shift in advance)? Well, I think so, especially after consulting some sleep experts. Enter Dr. Maida Chen again, my friend and sleep expert (ahem, and Power Mama of 3) and Dr. Craig Canapari, a sleep expert, father and blogger out East. Dr. Canapari suggests cutting the difference and softening the change by moving your child’s sleep period later by 30 minutes for three days before “falling back.” That means today (Thursday) is the day to start thinking about it. This way you’ll get them 1/2 way to the time change and making going to bed at the “new time” easier. For example, if bedtime is 8pm now, move bedtime tonight and for the next three nights to 8:30pm (that’s the new 7:30 starting on Sunday).
4 Things To Remember When Changing The Clocks With Kids:
- Nighttime: Most kids adjust within a few days, but if you start today and prep them for the time change, Monday morning will potentially not be so painful. However, still be prepared for an early morning wake-up Sunday and Monday. Children don’t “sleep in” like we’d appreciate when we change the clock back.
- Daytime: Try to keep daytime schedules the same on Sunday. Dr. Chen suggests, “If lunch is usually eaten at noon, which on new clock time would be 11, try to push it out to 11:15, 11:30, etc. Meals are pretty big cues. Be prepared to distract your kids or have an activity planned so that the focus is not, “WHERE IS LUNCH?”
- Light: Use light to your advantage. Consider a timed nightlight or wake light and get outside every day (natural light from even cloudy days helps regulate circadian schedules) for the next 7 days.
- Smoke: Check the batteries in your smoke detectors, too! As a public health reminder, this is the perfect moment to make sure those batteries work and your family will be alerted all year long if there’s a fire in the home.