This is one of “those weeks” for families … the twice a year adventure we call daylight savings time. Most folks generally enjoy the prospect of more daylight at the end of the day, but the adjustment can also be a little more challenging than what we experience in the fall. It can be hard to get your body acclimated to an earlier start. Going to bed at what seems like a “daytime hour” can be an especially difficult adjustment for children.
Many pediatric specialists encourage families to begin a transition to the “new time” in 15 minute increments leading up to first day back to school and work. If you missed that opportunity for school-age children, there’s still an ability to do so with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Methodically move wake up and bedtime ahead by 10-15 minutes each day for the best outcome. And for older kids (and parents) here are same other steps you can take to make the transition week as manageable as possible.
Be bright about light. This week, natural sunlight is your greatest friend and biggest challenge. In the morning, open blinds where possible and turn on plenty of lights just before the new wakeup time. This will help your children’s natural clocks with acclimation to the earlier start time. At bedtime, take the other route. Use blackout blinds and close bedroom curtains to make bedrooms artificially darker when it’s time for bed.
Be Balanced & Routine. Children’s shorter sleep cycles make daylight savings transitions more difficult, so it’s important to keep your morning and evening routines as consistent as possible. If your nightly rituals include story times or baths at specific times, keep to the plan. Even if your kids don’t feel tired, stick the “new, old bedtimes.” In times of transition, it’s also a good idea to maintain other healthy habits with nutrition and overall rest. This is not the week to introduce new activities to your family routine.
Be Patient. Finally, recognize that for many children, the transition to (or from) daylight savings time can be a 2-to-3 week process. Recognize that your kids — especially the younger ones, may be a little more cranky and emotional than usual. This may be true for their sleep-deprived parents as well. Do you best to remember that the daylight savings transition is a temporary inconvenience and a good tangible piece of evidence that spring and summer are right around the corner!