Fall Back – Surviving the End of Daylight Savings Time with Kids

House and Home

Here’s your official reminder: November 4th is the end of daylight savings time (DST).  

Don’t worry, it’s the cool time change – the one where we (incredibly!) go back in time.  Not it’s wicked, sleep depriving step-sister, spring ahead.  Before heading to bed on Saturday, put your clocks back one hour.  Or at least adjust the old-fashioned widgets that won’t adjust themselves.

In a past, child-free existence, the end of daylight savings time was an occasion to be celebrated.  Fall Back meant one extra hour dedicated to the guilty pleasure of your choice.  But in your present, kid-centric world, the end of daylight savings time is just one more obstacle to navigate.

Fortunately, Fall Back doesn’t have to be a significant obstacle.  If your child generally has good sleep habits and has shown their ability to go with the flow, don’t be too concerned.  You may not have to do anything ahead of the time change.  Give them a few days, and they’ll adjust.

For parents of children who have proven themselves to be more sensitive in terms of scheduling and sleep, here’s a few suggestions to make it easy on them (aka: easy on you).

Plan – Start adjusting at the beginning of November.  For children heading to school, shift their waking, breakfast, dinner and bedtimes to be 15 minutes later.  For children who are younger than school age, consider shifting their entire schedule (including wake times, eat times, nap(s) and bedtimes) 15 minutes later.  Repeat this incremental shift for the next 3 days.  By the time Sunday rolls around, their bodies are fully prepared for the adjustment.

Stay on Schedule– Every aspect of the day gives our children an opportunity to know what time it is.  Mealtimes, playtimes, along with wake and bedtimes all offer cues to help our children be prepared and receptive for what’s coming next.  Be mindful and deliberate with the time adjustment as it affects ALL of your daily activities, not just sleep.  Diligently follow your usual routines on the adjusted schedule.

Earlier Bedtimes – On the day of and days following the time change, you may notice that a 7AM wake time turns into a 6AM wake time.  Be prepared to compensate with an earlier bedtime (and possibly earlier nap times for the wee ones) to prevent any overtiredness from setting in.

Let There Be Light – The onset of autumn means cooler, shorter days with fewer hours of sunlight.  In the mornings, you’re likely turning on the lights anyway.  As your child is having their breakfast, ensure exposure to a well lit area of your home.  In the evenings, take the opportunity to turn down the lights about 30 minutes before bedtime.  These adjustments are subtle, but naturally regulate Circadian rhythms.

Admit to yourself that it’s not always going to be perfect.  Don’t sweat it.  Children take some time to adjust and adapt, just like you.  Be patient and consistent while continuing to make sleep a priority for your family.

Krista is a mother to 2 terrific kids, a Certified Children’s Sleep Consultant and the Founder of Sleeperific.  Like Sleeperific on Facebook to receive sleep tips, facts and to ask your baby and child sleep questions!

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