Twice a year, in the spring and fall, time changes. Whether you lose an hour of sleep, or gain an hour (in theory), these biannual adjustments can create bedlam. This is especially true in households with young children. This Fall, we turn back the clocks on Sunday, November 3rd, which marks the end of daylight savings time this year.
Small children lead very structured lives for the most part. The slightest variation in their routines can leave them feeling extremely unsettled. This can create ill tempers, and leave them completely out of sorts. Compound that with the fact that parents are struggling in their own rights to adjust to the changes, and it can take a one-hour event like this and turn it into a week-long (or longer) struggle to restore order.
There are things you can do that will help to ease the transition, resulting in slighter fuss at nap time, reduced opposition at bedtime, and an overall less cranky child. It may take more than one night, but these tips can help your child, and you, adjust to the new reality that will go into force when you turn your clock forward or back an hour.
Prepare for the New Time Ahead of Time
Try creating a 10-minute later bedtime or earlier, as the case may be, for one week leading up to time change. When the time changes, adjust bedtime to the normal time. For many children, this can help to ease the transition by creating a cushion to soften the time-change blow. Rather than dealing with the full hour at one time, you’re taking ‘baby steps’ toward the goal.
It’s a strategy worth trying in homes with small children, who tend to struggle with time changes more than many parents fully realize.
Limit Naptimes for Small Children
Little ones need their naps. There is no denying that. However, in the days following schedule upheavals, like daylight saving time, they may try to take longer naps. You may have learned the hard way to let a sleeping child lie, but at this time, it is best to set limits for those naptimes. Otherwise, your child could stay up later at night, and wake up cranky the next morning.
The key is to allow them time to restore and replenish without fueling them to go the distance for a late night. You don’t want to eliminate naptime altogether, though, or you run the risk of having a child that fights sleep at night, and the ensuing power struggle that goes along with this particular battle. Just seek to limit the duration of these naps until you’ve created a new routine.
Consider Room Darkening Curtains
This can help small children with times moving forward and back. In the summer, it is more difficult to convince small children to go to bed when the sun is still up. However, when time falls back in the Fall, it can be equally difficult to get them to stay in bed longer in the mornings, because the sun is coming up earlier in the day.
Room darkening curtains diminish the appearance of daylight outside their windows, allowing them to fall asleep faster at night and remain asleep better in the morning, regardless of what is happening outside their windows.
Both children and adults adapt to time changes at their own pace. Some are better about it, and recover after only a couple of days. Others struggle with it much longer. Simple tips, like those mentioned above, can help.
But, don’t forget to make sure you’re getting the sleep you need during this transition, so you are in a better frame of mind to respond to your child’s struggles to adjust.
And, above all, remember we go through time changes twice a year, every year. We always adjust.
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