Helping Your Child Adjust to the Daylight Saving Time Change in the Fall
Every year in the Fall when the time change edges closer, my mind spins around and around trying to wrap my head on what time is what. And then we throw kids into account! So… to put it into perspective, I like to look at two simple things. What our child’s current wake-up time is and when they go to bed. We can then easily convert that into what time it will with the time change. So in Fall, as Daylight Saving time turns off and we "fall back" that means:
- A 6:30a wake up will be 5:30a
- A 7p bedtime will be 6p
I always like to shift a child’s schedule starting with the morning wake-up as that helps to align the rest of the day. We’re not trying to scoot bedtime earlier after the rest of the day was the same and expect that our child will magically be tired.
I also like to gradually shift the schedule by 30 minutes the week before the time change and the remaining 30 mins the week after the change.
The week before the time change, if your child is sleeping in a little later, let them sleep later by 10-/15 mins. If they are waking at the same time, that's OK. We can't force them to sleep in longer O(as much as we wish we could!). For bedtime, however, you would aim to put your child down for bed 10 minutes earlier every two days. Then the week after the time change, continue to bump the schedule up by ten minutes every two days. If your toddler has an 'OK to wake' clock, that can be a good visual way to gradually push the waker cup time a little later every few days.
Keep the same wake windows around naps. Sunlight and outside time also help. When they’re awake, get them outside with lots of activity. And for bedtime and the morning, try and keep their rooms nice and dark. Remember the science of sleep - darkness helps to cue the brain that it’s time for sleep and stimulates the sleepy hormone melatonin.
Having school/daycare schedules can help too. It tends to force the change as the school day starts based on the new time right away. It also provides a routine that reinforces what time to be on.
If it’s the day of the time change and you haven't shifted any schedules yet, don’t worry! It may take a week or so to slowly adjust but children (and adults) tend to be able to adjust to a one hour difference over without too much interruption.
If the time change has thrown things way off for you and your child and you need some help, let’s connect! I’m happy to help provide some guidance to help get things back on track.