There are a few things that most kids can’t get on board with. We’re talking going to the dentist, time-outs, and getting out of bed early. Bad news for the last one on that list: Daylight Saving Time is almost here—it’s this Sunday, March 10 at 2 a.m. To ensure your kids get enough shut-eye and help them get out of bed without a struggle, we checked in with Dr. Mia Finkelston, a board-certified family physician who treats patients via telehealth app LiveHealth Online. These simple strategies will keep your whole family on track with Daylight Savings Time.
Push up bedtime
Tonight, make sure your little ones are tucked in 15 minutes early to start adjusting to the time change on Sunday, and make it half an hour early tomorrow. “Make sure that your children are well-rested,” says Finkelston. “Getting ample shut-eye before you adjust the clocks can give your kids a head start and decrease the chances that they will be cranky and overtired, which can make falling asleep even more difficult!”
Stick to the program
While it’s always important to have a nightly ritual before lights off, this is especially important leading up to Daylight Savings Time to help your kids maintain a schedule. “It’s essential that your little ones stick to a bedtime routine that signifies they are prepping for sleep,” Finkelston says. “An example of this is giving your children a warm bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, and then lying in bed with some soft music on and even a night light.”
“Parents should explain what is happening to their kids,” Finkelston says. “Get them involved in the process so that the time change and loss of sleep does not come as a complete shock to them.” For example, have them help you adjust clocks in the house. Remember that kids mimic what adults do, so teach them good practices.
Lead by example
Every mom and dad knows that kids are always watching their behavior, which is why setting the tone for them is key. “Go to bed earlier yourself and wake up a little earlier with them, eat a healthy breakfast, and stay positive,” Finkelston says. “Complaining and grumbling about losing an hour of sleep or about how tired we are will just make it harder for them to stay positive.”
Expect an adjustment period
Chances are your kids are not going to be thrilled to hit the hay earlier or wake up those first few days. “If the clocks are adjusted and you sense that your children are fussy, cranky and just not happy, try to involve them in strategies to take the edge off,” Finkelston says. “Start with a relaxing bath, read an extra book aloud or have them listen to bird or beach sounds (in real life or on a sound machine) to soothe them when they tend to be a bit revved up. If your children are older, talk about it with them. Ask them what feels off.” Help them understand that the adjustment will only take a few days.