This Sunday, we turn the clocks back one hour.
Back in my 20s, I was always pumped about the extra hour of sleep. Then I had a baby who typically woke up at 7 am and started panicking that he’d wake up at 6 am every day.
I always speak to clients around this time of year who are worried about their little ones waking an hour earlier due to the DST change. My number one piece of advice is not to worry about it. It’s not just sleep that changes, it’s every part of your daily routine.
You’ll be shifting bedtime, naps, mealtimes, playtime, daycare and/or school drop-offs and pick-ups, etc. This will automatically ease your kids into the new schedule, including when they go to sleep and wake up.
Now, what if I just jinxed you and your little one’s sleep is totally thrown off by the clocks changing?
There is an approach you can use to get things back on track.
What can you do to shift your child’s internal clock to align with the new post-daylight saving time change?
If you’re finding it tricky, the best strategy is to adjust your kid’s schedule gradually, over the course of four days. For the “fall back” time change, that means shifting their entire day 15 minutes later on day one, another 15 minutes later on day two, 15 minutes later again on day three, and finally the last 15 minutes on day four. After four days you will have moved their schedule an hour later so that it’s in sync with the new time.
For example, if you’re beginning to make this shift before the clocks change and your son or daughter usually wakes up at 7:00 a.m., on day one you will get them out of bed at 7:15 a.m., feed them their meals 15 minutes later than usual, put them down for their nap(s) 15 minutes later, and put them to bed that night 15 minutes later. The next day, you would get them up at 7:30 a.m. and so on.
At the end of these four days, you will have shifted their schedule by one hour, in 15-minute increments.
You can begin doing this four days before the clocks change. You can also begin the day the clocks change and continue for four days after the daylight saving adjustment, or you can begin two days before and finish two days afterward…whatever works for you.
If you have a child in daycare or school and don’t have the luxury of four days at home to shift their schedule, just do the best you can. You can adjust their timing by 20 minutes on Saturday, another 20 minutes on Sunday, and then the last 20 minutes will naturally happen on Monday when they’re back to daycare or school.
You may find this adjustment throws your child off ever so slightly but don’t worry. Just remain consistent with your timing and responses and things will go back to normal in no time (pun intended).