Before I had kids, the bi-annual time change fiasco was nothing more than an inconvenience. Sure, I lost an hour of sleep every spring, but I gained it back by that glorious extra hour every fall. No biggie. But then I had a baby and OMG! The mere thought of messing with my baby’s carefully crafted nap and sleep schedule made me want to throat punch whatever genius came up with the concept (I’m looking at you, Ben Franklin).
I still feel a little rage-y when Daylight Savings starts and ends (but now it’s more because I think it’s a stupid idea in general), but I’ve gotten to the point where adjusting my kids to the new time doesn’t send me into panic mode as much. Here are some tips for helping your babies adjust to this crazy (stupid) time change as we prepare to Spring Forward:
1. Do Nothing.
Honestly, this is my favorite option because I’m lazy. And frankly, I just forget about Daylight Savings until the night before when every mom on Facebook is freaking out about it. Using this method, you do nothing to prepare for the time change, but you will have to help your kiddos adjust starting the next evening. For example, my kids go to bed at 7:30 p.m. After we spring forward, bedtime will feel like 6:30 p.m. for them. I will usually let them stay up just a little later (maybe half an hour) for the first few nights after the time change to help them adjust to going to bed when it’s still a little light outside. It only takes about three nights and then they’re back to their normal routine. Done and done.
2. Or Start Adjusting a Week Ahead.
If you’re less lazy than me, you can always start breaking your kids into the time change about a week ahead of time. This may be a good option for younger babies. Start moving their bedtime by 15 minute increments so that they’re going to bed just a little earlier every night (which means they may wake up a little earlier the next morning, so be prepared for that!). Also, if you’re moving bed time, be sure you also move nap times. By the time we spring forward, you’ll already have them trained and you get to sleep in (if you’re lucky)!
3. Use Your Tools.
It’s a very strange thing to go to bed when there is still light outside, and it can really mess with your kid’s circadian rhythm. To help your kids get to sleep when the sun is still on the horizon, invest in a good pair of black out blinds or curtains. I also suggest using a toddler clock to help your kiddo realize that it really is bed time (I swear by our Tot Clocks) and maybe consider using a sound machine to drown out any noise coming from outside. The more you create a soothing sleep environment in their room, the easier it will be to ease into the time change.
4. Wear them out.
For a few days before and after the time change, let your kids run amok outside or do something physical inside (obstacle course with couch cushions?) for a little while to burn off some extra energy. If you wear them out before you get ready for bed, sleep will come a little easier despite the time change.
5. Be flexible.
Bottom line: do what’s right for your kid and your family. You can prep and plan for the time change until you’re blue in the face, but it may not go the way you hoped. Your kid may surprise you and not have any trouble at all; or your kid may have a few rough nights despite all your preparation. Be flexible and adjust what you’re doing according to your baby’s needs. I promise you, they’ll get used to the time change, just like we will, and then we will all be worried about it again come the Fall. Good luck!