In a few days, every parent's most dreaded morning of the year will again be upon us. The end of Daylight Saving Time.
The morning where your child's already too early 6am wake-up becomes an unbearable 5am wake-up like magic.
Horrible. Cruel. Magic.
Conversations around "WHY DO WE EVEN MESS WITH THE CLOCKS?!" will dominate social media and playgroups. Kids and parents alike will be slogging through several days of adjustment to the new Standard Time. (Unless you live in a place like Arizona that doesn't observe DST. In which case, feel free to smugly sip your morning coffee while your kids awake at their normal time as if nothing earth shattering had taken place.)
So is there anything that can be done to make this time change more bearable? Yes!
Most sleep experts recommend helping your child* adjust to the impending time change in the week approaching the end of DST. Even though the change is only a few days away, IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO MAKE SOME SMALL ADJUSTMENTS that could lessen the blow.
Start by EXTENDING YOUR CHILD'S MORNING DARKNESS in the week leading up to the "fall back" time change by up to an hour. Even 10 minutes of extended morning darkness and/or delayed feeding a day for a few days in a row can help make the transition easier. Blackout shades are a huge help with this and delay any screen time for as long as you can. The exposure to that blue/green light is a signal to their body clock to "wake up!!"
In the 3-4 days prior to the time change, EXTEND YOUR CHILD'S BEDTIME and evening exposure to light by 10-15 minutes a day. You're helping them incrementally shift their body clock (circadian rhythm) by the hour it will have to adjust to on Sunday morning.
You'll want to take your own child's sleep schedule and sleep needs into account. A day where there's been a short or missed nap in the afternoon is probably not the best time to push bedtime back, for example.
Most importantly, DON'T OVER-THINK IT! When you and your kids wake up on Sunday morning, the sun will have risen an hour "early" according to your body clock (and will be setting an hour early in the evening.) So the key to helping your body clock adjust to the new clock time is to extend morning darkness and evening light gradually as we approach the time change (and maybe for a few days following it if you're a bit late to start your transition).
And of course, there's the "we're just going to wing it and hope for the best" method of adjusting to the time change. We've definitely taken that approach in our home. And you know what? Everyone survived. As with every other parenting decision, there's no ONE "right" way, and what works for one family won't necessarily work for others.
Wishing y'all the best this weekend! May your children all embrace the "extra" hour of sleep we used to enjoy before we had kids ;)
* by "child" we mean infants over 5 months up to toddlers/preschoolers up to 4 years. Younger babies won't have such a hard time adjusting and older children can typically handle 30-60 minutes of bedtime/wake time change without as much disruption.