Remember when falling back an hour meant staying out later before curfew hit, or squeezing in one more round when you were out with friends?
Now it means figuring out how to set your kids’ internal clocks back an hour earlier than they’re used to, while maintaining a routine and dodging bedtime crankiness. Of course, falling back has one benefit that every parent appreciates: One more hour of precious sleep!
One trick to help your children adjust to their new sleep schedule is to gradually push bedtime back, by 10–15 minutes, each day for a week or so before the time switch. If you find your children are resisting sleeping earlier, consider stacking the deck in your favor by lining up activities during the day that tend to tire them out and allow them to soak in a little extra sun now that daytime will be shorter. Take a family walk after dinner, squeeze in extra playtime at the park, or pencil in some physical play like playing catch or practicing soccer goals, so they can expend more energy. Just make sure to take on the extra activity well before you start settling down and getting ready for bedtime.
Some families opt to tackle the end of daylight saving time cold turkey, just like they might handle bedtime or naps after traveling cross-country to a new time zone. If that’s your style, put your kids to bed whenever bedtime always was, regardless of the time change.
While your child might feel like they have an hour left to kill, if bedtime is eight o’clock, continue with your regular bedtime routine and have the kids in bed at eight o’clock, as usual. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll always fall straight to sleep, but at least the expectation is set and eventually, they’ll fall in line.
Dr. Mom, Melissa Arca, M.D., says, “The first week is often a challenge but everyone soon catches on, particularly because the sleep-wake cycle will ultimately catch up in a few days.”
Whether you opt for cold turkey or try and sneak up on the daylight saving time transition, make sure you maintain your bedtime routines. If you always started your routine an hour early so you could fit in bath time and storytelling, keep those activities consistent to help signal to your child that bedtime is imminent, regardless of the time change.
“Whichever method you choose, just remember to stay consistent with your bedtime routines,” Arca says. “Sure, your children may initially balk at the new earlier bedtime, but in no time, it will be the new normal.”
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