For some people daylight savings is an after though causing a minimal disruption to their lives. For parents with young children, it can be a stressful few days. The fear of having your toddler wake up at 4:45am is real. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prepare your child for the time shifting back.
- If you are able to, gradually adjust bedtime, nap times and morning wake times. Doing so over the course of 4 days can help ease their bodies and their minds into the new schedule. An hour can feel like a huge change for a young child, but a 15-minute change often goes unnoticed.
- Stick to your normal bedtime routine. Children find comfort in routine so make sure it remains the same even if you are shifting the timing of bedtime. It is always ok to shorten the routine a bit if your child is overtired, just do not skip it all together.
- Be firm about when it is ok to get out of their bed or crib in the morning. If 6:30 is your normal “ok to wake up” time, then stick to that as best you can. If you have a toddler or older child, you may need to go in and offer a reminder to stay in bed a bit longer if they wake and want to get out of bed too early. Using a light alarm is a great way to help them learn when it is time to wake up in the morning. If you have a baby who is upset too early in the morning it is ok to go in and offer some soothing in a dark room to help them stay settled until it’s time to wake up. Letting your child get out of bed too early and feeding them too early can turn into an unwanted habit quickly.
- If you aren’t able to prepare them for the change over the course of 4 days, offer them some extra sleep if needed the first few days you are adjusting to the new schedule. An early wake up can make your child more tired than usual during the day. Take the time to offer a longer nap, fit in an extra cat nap to keep them from getting overtired before bedtime or move bedtime earlier. Overtired children tend to have more trouble falling asleep at bedtime, they wake more throughout the night and it can even lead to them waking up way too early in the morning.
- Get a lot of sunlight during the transition. Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm and this internal clock is influenced by the sun and darkness each day. The sudden change of it staying light later or getting dark earlier can throw off our internal clock. Make sure to get outside, walk, play, or just sit and enjoy the sun early in the morning and later in the afternoon.
While we can do our best as caregivers to prepare our littles for changes, sometimes things will just get off track. Remember to be patient and just do your best! Get to bed early yourself and catch a quick nap when you can (ha! ha!) to help you all have a smooth daylight savings transition.