The 6 stages of setting the clocks back when you have kids (GIFS)

Oct 27, 2015 at 5:01 p.m. ET
Image: Goldyrocks/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Changing the clocks back each autumn seems simple, but convincing a baby or toddler to alter their schedule by an hour is anything but.

If you're a parent with a young child or baby, the only thing scarier in the fall than Halloween is daylight saving time coming to an end. Unlike your microwave, babies and toddlers don't come with a "time set" feature, so the weeks following the time change can interrupt the already tricky sleep schedules of the diaper crowd. Here are just a few of the phases parents experience when they realize it's time to change the clocks once again.

More: Living with toddlers is like watching a horror movie every day

Stage One: Disbelief

Hunger Games shock
Image: Giphy

You see a funny meme on Facebook about the impending time change and do a double-take. Surely it can't be time to change the clocks already; your leg hair still hasn't completely grown in from the end of summer shorts season! But one look at the calendar confirms the dreaded truth (and reminds you of a dentist appointment next week you completely forgot about).

Stage Two: Delusions of grandeur

approval gif
Image: Giphy

Moving the clocks back an hour means your kids will be tired earlier in the evening. You start to envision quick and easy nighttime routines that don't involve pleading, tears and 347 requests for another bedtime story. With the baby ready to snooze so much sooner, perhaps you'll finally have time to catch up on laundry and your favorite shows. You'll have quiet evenings filled with adult conversation and snacks that you don't have to share. This is going to be grand.

More: If daylight saving time messed you up, imagine being autistic

Stage Three: Reality sets in

Katniss screaming
Image: Giphy

Your plans for nightly movie marathons with your partner go out the window as you realize that going to bed earlier means your children will rise an hour earlier as well. You already spend so many nighttime hours up with your kids that you suspect they could be part vampire, and just the idea of them waking even earlier than they do already is making you yawn. You imagine them asking for milk and cartoons at an hour when most college kids are just going to bed and seriously consider making a fortress out of K-cup boxes and refusing to come out until they're in middle school.

Stage Four: Formulate a plan of attack

Finnick fighting
Image: Giphy

With a montage of last fall's early risings running through your head and the knowledge that your nighttime eye cream does not work as well as the commercials promised, you're determined not to let DST win this time. You decide to beat the system by adjusting bedtime by five minutes every other day, so that when the time change rolls around, your kids will already be adapted. You grab a glass of wine to toast your genius, then use that same glass to drown your sorrows once you realize that in order for your fool-proof plan to work, you should have started moving bedtime back a week ago.

More: 7 Mom-tested tips to get kids to sleep in their own beds

Stage Five: Rebellion

Rebellion Gif
Image: Giphy

You're so panicked by the idea of your child waking early that packing up and moving seems like an excellent plan for avoiding the issue. There are places in the country that don't observe daylight saving time, and now feels like the perfect time to move to one of them. You start looking online at houses for sale in Arizona and even daydream about what it would be like on the shore of Hawaii before the thought of packing all your knick-knacks snaps you back to reality.

Stage Six: Game on

Hunger Games salute
Image: Giphy

The only adult who should be afraid of a clock is Captain Hook, and you refuse to let him serve as your role model. You convince yourself that as the adult, you'll be able to calmly and rationally help your child adjust to an earlier bedtime and manage to prevent them from waking before the sun each morning. And if not, well then the first weekend in March and the next time change is only four months away, and you think you've got enough caffeine stockpiled to last until then.