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Daylight Saving Time: Because Being a Parent Isn't Hard Enough

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly and created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries. She also writes for Alpha Mom, The Huffington Post and other outlets. You can follow he...

How you can help your kids (and you) adjust to daylight saving time

Here's my advice for today. Avoid that chipper parent who gleefully declares, "For some reason my kids easily adjusted to daylight saving!" You don't have time for that lady, because for many of us with kids, daylight saving time is one more parenting stress.

According to the Better Sleep Council, half of all American parents say daylight saving time affects their kids; more than 29 percent report it’s more difficult to get children to sleep after the time change. That's because if you're trying to put them to sleep at their normal bedtime, it feels one hour earlier to them because it is one hour earlier.

My 10-year-old was in tears last night because she had spent more than an hour trying to fall asleep. She was so frustrated and anxious about being tired the next day. And of course the next morning, I practically needed a forklift to get my kids out of their beds. How could it be morning? we all wondered. It was still so dark.

More: 21 Tips to Get Your Best Sleep Ever

So what do you do about daylight saving time (other than gripe about it on social media) if you have children?

Take it slow. Don't expect your kids to adjust overnight. It might be helpful to switch them over in 15 minute increments.  

Stick to that bedtime routine. Whatever it is. Bath, books, bed, bourbon? (OK, no bourbon.) Those nightly rituals are the signals that remind children it's time for bed even if they feel like doing cartwheels and headstands.

For older kids, try meditation or letting them read before bed. Almost every night, my 12-year-old goes to sleep listening to a meditation on Headspace. She's a night owl, so it really helps settle her down and fall asleep on school nights.

Avoid big meals two or three hours before bed since it can interfere with sleep. And don't give kids a lot of sugar before bed.

As bad as this adjustment is, I have found that "springing forward" is generally easier than "falling back" because in the fall, your children will wake up one hour earlier. And nobody needs that craziness.

When my son was 2, he was already an early riser, but because of daylight saving time, he began waking up at 5:30 a.m. Not for a few days or weeks, but for two months straight. And it made no difference how late I put him to bed. I'm pretty sure if I tucked him in at 5:29 a.m. after getting 60 seconds of sleep, he'd be like, "Hey mom, big good morning to you!"

But let's not worry about all that now.

More: 7 Tips for New Moms to Get Some Sleep

Just take heart. Your children will eventually adjust to DST. Try not to obsess over it (too much). New parents have a tendency to discuss daylight saving with the intensity of trying to figure out how to achieve world peace.

I promise. Your kid will eventually get back on his or her schedule. And eventually you'll enjoy the extra light at the end of the day. Just remember to change the clocks so you aren't late for school.

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