It’s that time of year…the leaves are falling, the weather is getting cooler, and it’s starting to get dark earlier and earlier. So, of course, our wonderful country decides that we should add to everything else going on and set our clocks back by an hour. Clearly whoever keeps this practice alive (I’m looking at you government), does not have children. While you may have embraced the extra hour of sleep in your early twenties, chances are your infant or toddler didn’t get the memo and now will be waking an hour earlier. So what should you do?
There are a lot of tips and techniques that sleep consultants and parents have come up with to try and make this transition a little easier on the entire family. However, in my opinion this can only go two ways:
Sleep Tip #1
Starting the Wednesday before DST, start moving your child’s bedtime back by 15 minutes every evening. So if they normally go to bed at 7:00pm, on Wednesday, move the time to 7:15, Thursday-7:30, Friday-7:45, and finally Saturday-8:00 PM which ends up being an hour later than their original bedtime. Also, if they are still napping, you’ll need to push those times later by 15 minutes as well each day. You are essentially pushing their entire schedule each day.
The problem that you might encounter with this technique is that you will have a child who may be more tired than usual and also, despite shifting bedtime, does not sleep in any later. With any change to schedule and routine it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to see the actual change take place. So don’t get discouraged if you are pushing bedtime later but they keep waking up at their normal time.
Sleep Tip #2
This is the method for all you procrastinators out there. You realize it’s Saturday night and you haven’t planned for DST at all. What do you do? When they wake up an hour earlier the next day, you’ll have to push them so that their schedule remains the same time according to the clock even though they will be extra tired. It’ll still feel like your normal wakeup time this morning so don’t sweat it too much. For example, if they end up waking up at 5:00am instead of 6:00am (it will still feel like 6 but just read an hour earlier on the clock), and usually nap at 12, you need to keep them up until 12 despite if they start getting tired and cranky at 11. This is called short-term pain for long-term gain. You’ll get them right back into their normal timing so they don’t get into the habit of having their entire day shifted earlier.
The same advice applies as above-it may not be overnight success to get them comfortably waking at the 6am hour, but if you are consistent, it should get back on track within a few days.
Regardless, no matter how you plan to tackle Daylight’s Savings this year, remember that getting them back onto their regular timing on the clock is the most important piece to maintain the previous schedule. If you keep dragging it out this will only end up in more tears for a longer period of time for everyone involved.
And my biggest piece of advice…join the movement and sign the petition to get rid of Daylight’s Savings!