It’s that time of year again. Time to move the clocks forward. If you’re at all like me, you didn’t spend any amount of energy thinking about moving the clocks forward or backward before you had kids. You just hoped you showed up on time wherever you were supposed to be. Once you have kids, this all changes. Kids, especially babies, are super sensitive to time changes. And we all know the hell dealing with a tired child wrecks on our day. An overtired kid is not my idea of a good time.
Is there any way to avoid this and make the transition into daylight savings a bit easier? Luckily, the sleep experts say that there is. Lots of the experts recommend making the change gradually. They advocate starting a few days before the time change and moving everything forward in 15 minute intervals. I’ve never met a parent who was this prepared. If you’re reading this right now, it’s too late for the strategy anyway. Maybe next year.
Here are some key tips for those of us too lazy to begin preparations the week before:
- Daylight savings time means kids are going to be going to bed while it is still light. This is an easy problem to solve. Darken the windows and the room. If the room is dark, there’s a good chance your child won’t know the difference. Cover them like a speed freak if you need to.
- Expect that it will take your child longer to fall asleep. If you expect it and are prepared for it, you may not be quite so irritated with it when it occurs. Don’t purposefully try to tire them out before they go to bed in hopes that it will make it easier for them to fall asleep. This almost never works. It’s counterintuitive but an overtired child actually has a harder time falling asleep.
- The time change also means they will be getting up an hour later. If your child typically wakes up at 6:00 a.m., they will most likely wake up at 7:00 a.m. Rejoice in this! I don’t know too many parents who are worried about sleeping later. I know I’m not! However, this does mean they will naturally go to bed an hour later as well. Some of you might not like this.
- If you really want your child to remain on the same sleep schedule with the least amount of disruption, here’s a plan that works (so they say):
A. On Saturday night, put your child to bed at their regular time. For example, 7:00 p.m.
B. On Sunday morning, wake them up at their normal wake time according to the new clock. For example, if they normally wake up at 6:00 a.m., wake them up at this time even though they will feel like it is 5:00 a.m. And yes, they will probably be tired and cranky.
C. On Sunday, put them down at their regular nap time according to the new clock and for their regular bedtime according to the new clock.
D. It should take a few days to adjust, but after a few days, they should be adjusted. And you should be right back on the same schedule.
Let me know how the plan goes. As for me, I’ll be enjoying Gus sleeping in a bit later.
Photo: Danilo Rizzuto