Ah, daylight savings time. The weird practice of spring forward and fall back we all follow. We tell ourselves it is for the farmers to have more sunlight as we all shake our heads and rub our eyes, jet lagged in our own home.
Why is this still a thing? Most people think that its for the benefit of farmers but it was actually first adopted in Germany in 1915 as a way to conserve energy, to make our awake hours better line up with the sun.
Unfortunately in my experience, babies and toddlers, and even my own natural sleep cycle doesn’t really care about energy conservation. So twice a year our systems get shocked by an outdated practice. The worst being spring forward, when we actually lose an hour of sleep in the middle of the night.
As adults, we learn to adjust with these changes with a bit of extra coffee, but kids may take a bit more convincing.
So, besides throwing your own toddler-style tantrum, how do you deal?
Here are 5 tips to make the time change a little easier on your littles.
1. Spring Forward Tip #1: Black Out Blinds
As the days get longer when we Spring Forward, the best thing you can do for your child’s sleep is ensure their room is pitch black for the entirety of their sleep. This is best achieved with black out blinds. Blocking out the sun helps stop any early wakings and helps teach that bedtime means the day is done. There are lots of great options when searching online but in a pinch, some extra towels or even tiny foil covering the window behind your favorite cute nursery curtains will do.
2. Tip #2: Toddler Alarm Clocks
At our house we recently started using a Gro Clock with our 2.5 year old. It is a great tool because it allows you as the parent to choose ‘when the sun comes up’. Visual clocks that teach kids when to get out of bed can help them adjust to spring forward. If they do wake early they can see that its not time to start the day yet, and hopefully that will help them settle in for a little longer so you can adjust too.
3. Spring Forward Tip #3: Ease into it
I know for some folks, the best thing to save your sleep and sanity during Spring Forward is to ease into it. Start by adjusting bedtime by 30 minutes 3 days before, so that when the time change happens its only another 30 minute adjustment rather than trying to get the kiddos to bed a full hour early seemingly out of the blue. If you’ve ever experienced jet lag you know that it can take several days for our bodies to adjust and for some, a slow transition is best.
4. Tip #4: Dive Right In
I know, I know, this is literally the opposite of my last suggestion. But like all things parenting, different strategies work for different families. Do what works and/or feels right for you. For our family, a cold turkey approach is best. Adjust and move on, and us adults pretend like nothing is wrong. The visual of the Gro Clock helps us convince our oldest that it is in fact time to sleep and within a day or two any night time battles caused by Spring Forward are done. Plan for an extra pot of coffee and be kind to yourselves. Life will be back to normal before you know it. Although, sometimes I do just want t o move to Saskatchewan, land of zero time changes instead!
5. Spring Forward Tip #5: Go Go Go
This is the most important step. No matter what strategies you use to get over spring forward daylight savings, the best is to play hard after the change so that kiddos are prepared and tired at that ‘early’ bedtime after the fact. Fresh air, active play and exercise are the keys to a tuckered out kiddo who is ready for bed. Plan some messy play for the day and keep busy. The sooner they go to sleep, the sooner they will adjust. (And you can put your feet up for another job well done parenting).
Above all else remember to be kind to yourself and you family during this change. Sleep is so key to our health and well-being, that even a slight sleep debt can throw anyone off their game. Do your best to make the transition smooth. And if there are bumps, don’t worry. Night waking's, bedtime battles, and early mornings all will pass in time. You got this.
Looking for more help with getting your littles to sleep? Check out my gentle tips for more sleep here.
About the Author
Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.
What works for you when adjusting your little’s sleep routine? Tell us in the comments!