We “spring forward” this weekend and though this comes with the promise of longer, sunnier afternoons, it also means losing an hour of sleep. Don’t forget to reset your clocks… and your expectations. You may lose more than just that initial hour of rest if your child has a hard time adjusting. Quite frankly, we can’t imagine surviving on any less sleep at this point, so we’re sharing 5 of the best tips and tricks for how to deal with Daylight Savings. You are not alone. We’ll all be tackling this together, mamas!
Try to tell your toddler it’s time for bed when it’s not yet dark outside… go ahead. We’ll wait.
Didn’t work out so well? Try creating a lights-out situation: pull the blinds, use black-out curtains and dim the lights. This trick helps kickstart the melatonin production process and sends a signal to your child’s body that it’s time to settle down. With less natural and artificial lighting, they will become less alert and start to feel sleepy. This is a perfect time to read these storybooks or calmly play shadow puppets.
We’re gonna hack Daylight Savings this year! Pre-tweak bedtime, starting now. Move your entire routine up by 10-15 minutes at a time over a few days, not in one fell swoop. You don’t want to up-end their routine or your own. This way, slight adjustments can be made over a few days, as needed, without causing too much of an upset to your child’s circadian rhythm. If some extra downtime is needed, set them up with a few books for reading in bed. You can also introduce a sleep clock (we love this one) which lets them see firsthand when it’s time to stay in bed and when it’s time to rise and shine. Toddlers and school-age kids usually love this trick, as it encourages their growing sense of independence.
As much as you want to create dark conditions at bedtime, you’ll also want sun exposure as soon as possible in the morning. Sunlight triggers the brain’s production of serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter linked to the growth of certain cells, feelings of well-being, and memory.
If you have time to let your kids sleep in a bit those first few days after we change the time, great! Or if your kids are used to waking you up at 5:30 a.m. (which is now 6:30 a.m.), then don’t mess with a good thing! But for most families, we need our kids up and out the door at a specific time. So go ahead and open the windows, turn on the lights, and let that sun come shining in. It’ll boost your mood too!
Most of what we’re learning on this crazy motherhood journey is that so much has to do with our own expectations. Brace for a week of potential grumpiness – your children’s and your own! Some kids are barely affected by time change, whether due to daylight savings or traveling through time zones. For others, though, even minor adjustments to sleep and wake schedules affect appetite, mood, and even attention span. Plenty of adults feel groggier and a little slo-mo during this time too (…or… all the time?). Give yourself and your kids a break. If possible, keep next week’s activities and outings to a minimum. Take the time for additional rest and cuddles. Stock up on patience, pillow forts, and pinot!
We treasure that quiet hour after the kids are in bed. What do you typically enjoy in those few moments? Read? Take a bath? Sip a glass of wine? Take time with your partner? Just keep in mind: this week, that coveted regrouping time may not happen for you. Again, it’s all about our expectations. Be mindful of what’s ahead and remind yourself that the adjustment period won’t last forever.
Running and jumping tactics to tire your kids out don’t typically work during a sleep transition. Overtired kids usually take longer to fall asleep anyway, and the fight to get in bed might become brutal. Better to stick with calmer, more drawn-out bedtime routines for a week or two and set our own expectations that we may not have much quiet, alone time for a few days.
Hang in there, mamas! Planning ahead will be worth it in the end. You are not alone!