On Sunday November 4th we change our clocks and gain an hour of sleep. Doesn’t that sound amazing! Perhaps it sounded better before we had kids? Ah yes, gone are the days of singlehood where you can bask in slumberville and enjoy that extra hour. Now as the time change approaches, we parents cling to each other in the fear of not knowing how this will affect our child’s sleep routine.
With the Spring and Fall time change our body clocks will adjust on their own but there are a few ways that we can help the process.
Want to know what I do at my house? Nothing. We change the clocks and start going to bed at the new times and wait for everyone to adjust. If your child isn’t super sleep sensitive then you may be able to do the same and just jump to the new times and wait for them to adapt. Consistency is key and it may take them a week or two to adjust but they will. This is always the approach we take in our home. Easy peasy.
Another approach for those who are a little more sensitive to routine is to begin a gradual shift in their schedule. Starting a few days before the time change shift your child’s bedtime and wake time 15 minutes later than usual. Remember when the clocks change, their new 7pm bedtime will actually be an 8pm bedtime according to their body clock, so shifting everything later prior to the change will help reset their internal rhythms making it an easier transition come Sunday night. Continue this shift by 15 minutes each day until you reach the time change. You may want to go as far as shifting their entire routine throughout the day and make naps and mealtimes slightly later as well.
It’s important to understand that these time changes don’t only affect our children. It can also be a tough adjustment for us parents. Where we go wrong in the Fall is that we use the “extra hour” as an excuse to stay up later and sleep in more in the morning. The best route to take is to stick to your same routine. To help adjust your own body clock go to bed at the same time each night (even though it will be darker earlier) and wake up at the same time in the morning. It shouldn’t take longer than a week for you to adapt.
Sleep Tip! All bedrooms should be set up for sleep success. Promote a cool, dark, and quiet environment for both you and your children. Doing so will aid in proper restorative sleep for you and your family.
Hang in there moms and dads. The shift in this new schedule normally takes a week or two for our kiddies to adapt to it. While their bodies may not feel tired during this time change our kids may get cranky that first week while their bodies wait to nap and eat. They will get there! Remember my two favourite words! Persistence and consistency! You will get through this.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.