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3 Tried-and-True Strategies to Make Daylight Savings Time Easier for Your Family!

9 min read
Daylight savings

Daylight Saving Time is about to begin this Sunday, March 10, and parents find themselves facing the annual challenge of adjusting their child’s sleep routines. Navigating the transition can often feel like a delicate balancing act, so join me, a seasoned sleep expert, as we delve into the 3 strategies and insights needed to help you navigate the adjustment smoothly. 

Spring forward, fall back!

Daylight Saving Time is a practice where our clocks are adjusted forward by one hour during the warmer months. . It happens in the spring when we “spring forward” and set our clocks ahead one hour. In the fall, we “fall back” and set our clocks back one hour, when daylight savings ends. The reason for daylight saving time is to make better use of sunlight during the day–to have more daylight hours after work or school (and before bedtime). With this comes disrupted sleep patterns and body clocks, so fear not, as I shed some light on how to help.

3 Tried-and-True Strategies to Make Daylight Savings Time Easier for Your Family! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

How to Help Your Baby or Toddlers adjust to Daylight Savings Time. 

Strategy #1. Start Early

● Step 1: Since we will be moving forwards with our clocks, you will want to move BACK in  increments before the transition happens. So, quickly jot down the times that your child wakes up, eats, and goes to bed. 

● Step 2: Make gradual shifts over a period of two days: 

○ Shifting in 30-minute increments in the 2 days leading up to the time change. 

● Step 3: Make sure that you shift everything else as well! So, their morning wake up time, lunch and dinner should all shift to allow their bodies to begin to adjust. Example for 2 days: If your child currently goes to bed at 7:00 pm, then you will want to start shifting them  back 4 days in advance, so:  

Friday Night: 6:30 pm 

Saturday Night: 6:00 pm 

Sunday Night: 7:00 pm (The old 6:00 pm)

3 Tried-and-True Strategies to Make Daylight Savings Time Easier for Your Family! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Strategy #2. Split the Difference 

• Step 1: Shift your clocks normally for the time change.

• Step 2: That day (Sunday), you will shift your child’s naps, mealtimes, and bedtime by half an hour. If the child does not take naps now, that is fine; just shift the wakeup time and bedtime.  

• Step 3: The fourth night, simply put your child to bed at their normal time. Remember to adjust wakeups, mealtimes, and naps to the correct time on day 4 as well! Example (Baby and/or Toddler): If your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 10:00 am for the three days after the time change. Do the same for the afternoon nap. If your little one goes  to sleep at 7:00 p.m., then put that child to bed at 7:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change.  (This will FEEL like 6:30 pm to your child.)

Strategy # 3. Do Nothing!

That’s right! Do nothing!  This tactic is specifically for those that have early risers on their hands!  If you have a baby or toddler that is consistently waking up in the wee hours of the morning, this is your opportunity to shift their body clock.  Example: if your baby or toddler regularly wakes up at 6 am, you will do nothing about that when the change happens on Sunday.  What still feels like 6 am to them, has now become 7 am.  You will still do the same bedtime routine and have them into bed by 7pm.  They will still feel the effects of the change, but this allows for a shift in their schedule, hopefully resulting in a later morning wakeup moving forward.

Daycare, PreSchool and School-Age Children on a Set Schedule

Now, if you have children who are in daycare, preschool or school- age and have a set schedule that cannot be adjusted until the day of the time change, then those tactics will not be as useful. Here are some ways to handle the time change for your children to help them adapt to the time change as quickly and effectively as possible!

3 Tried-and-True Strategies to Make Daylight Savings Time Easier for Your Family! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Tip A. Exercise and Sunlight 

Sunlight and exercise are some of the biggest contributors to a good night’s sleep. Exercise helps to burn off energy and gets the body ready for bedtime. Blue light, during the day provided by the sun, helps in melatonin production, which is a key hormone when it comes to sleep. It also aids in regulating our internal body clocks, which naturally produces cortisol during the day for energy and alertness. Making sure that your child gets a healthy dose of sunlight during the day, will help them sleep better on their first night of daylight savings time (and beyond), than if they stayed cooped up inside all afternoon.

Tip B: Have A Bedtime Routine 

A child’s bedtime routine is a powerful way to promote sleep. It does so much more than just getting your child ready for bed. A  bedtime routine, when done consistently every night, signals to the brain and to the body that sleep is coming.  This triggers the neurotransmitters in the brain to get moving! It starts the release of melatonin and shuts off cortisol productions. The predictability of the routine also helps your child to feel safe, knowing what is to come next (and should help to keep any bedtime battles at bay!).  Use a bedtime routine chart to help them visualize what is coming next as well.  By the time they climb into bed, they are ready to have a good night’s sleep!

Tip C: Slight Adjustments at Bedtime 

Even though your child may have to get up at the same time in the morning, you may still be able to  make gradual changes around bedtime. Moving their bedtime either forward or back, depending on which way  the clocks are changing, by 15 minutes every two or three nights after the time change, can lessen the effect it  has on their schedule compared to a one-hour switch overnight. Keep in mind that overtiredness is the  adversary of good sleep, so try your best not to keep them up for an extra hour the night before the clock  moves forward. If they wake up a little early in the morning, that’s OK, and more desirable than having them stay awake for too long at night. 

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 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm, but they cannot see the minutes. 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.

Tip D: Remain Consistent 

Remember that routine and consistency is so important when it comes to your child’s sleep. If your child is struggling with sleep, review their bedtime routine and the time that they are going to bed and that they are waking up in the morning. If it is fluctuating constantly, that could be a major factor in why they are having sleep struggles. And with the days starting to get longer now, resist the urge to allow your kids to stay up later than their normal, earlier bedtime and resist the urge to let your children sleep in on the weekends. This will throw off their internal body clocks and cause them to be tired during the week. Consistency is key! 

3 Tried-and-True Strategies to Make Daylight Savings Time Easier for Your Family! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Always keep in mind, your child’s body (and yours) need time to adjust to this shift in sleeping habits. It takes everyone’s bodies approximately a week to get used to any type of change, so be patient and understanding as your child deals with and adjusts to having his sleep schedule changed.  By planning ahead and making sure that everyone gets plenty of exercise, fresh air and sunlight you will be helping them get a good night’s sleep and make the transition a bit easier.  As we eagerly embrace the longer days and soon to come warmer weather that “spring forward” brings, don’t forget the importance of our children’s sleep needs and routines.  By prioritizing healthy sleep habits and ensuring that our little one’s get the sleep that they need, we are creating a nurturing environment that aids in their well being and development!  It’s vital for them and for you too!  So, as you adjust your clocks and welcome the changing season, commit to fostering good sleep practices for your kids.  After all, well-rested children are happy children that thrive!

Missy Morrison Charko is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and a Mom of 2. The founder of Say Yes to The Rest Pediatric Sleep Consulting, she helps exhausted parents across Canada and the USA get their children higher-quality, more restful sleep through Private Coaching, Workshops and Seminars. Sign up for her email list to receive expert tips and tricks and her Free Baby Sleep Guide at www.sayyestotherest.com, where you can also book a complimentary call with her to learn more about her private coaching or to book her for your next speaking engagement.

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