Nothing makes me sweat more than knowing another time change is just around the corner. The sweating is not over my kids’ adjustment to this new time – they handle it fine, it’s over my own adjustment!
Some of us can adjust in a few days or even in a week (this is most children), and then some of us can take up to a month to fully adjust.
What’s great about springing forward into Daylight Saving Time though, is this is the easier time change compared to falling back. Parents who have been struggling with early wakes usually get some relief when their child starts waking later.
How to Spring Forward
There are 4 ways to tackle this time change. Pick the one that suits you and your family best!
Option 1 – Start Early
If you’d like to get a head start on springing forward, you can start as much as a month in advance. Each week move your child’s bedtime earlier by 15 minutes. For example, if they have a 7:00 pm bedtime, week 1 move to 6:45, week 2 to 6:30, week 3 to 6:15, week 4 (the week of daylight saving time) move to 6:00 pm. Once the clocks switch over, your child will be going down at 7:00 on the clock and their body will already have adjusted. Take the same approach with naps. If you start 2 weeks out, give yourself half a week at each time instead of a full week.
If starting early does not work for your family schedule, that’s ok! You can just tackle this day of.
Option 2 – Wait Until the Day is Upon Us – Split the Difference
On Saturday night, go to bed like normal and wake up Sunday morning like normal. Any clocks that have not changed over, like the microwave, go ahead and change them. If your child still naps, just do a normal day of naps. Then on Sunday at bedtime, split the difference by 30 minutes. For example, if your child has a 7:00 pm bedtime, Sunday night put them to bed at 7:30 on the clock. It will be 30 minutes later on the clock, but 30 minutes earlier for their body. Then on Monday if they nap, do the same for naptime. If usually going down at 12:30, put them down at 1:00 pm.
Do this for 3 nights and 3 days. Then on the 4th night (Wednesday), move the bedtime to 7:00 pm. The following morning start holding them to a 6:00 am (or later) wake up time, and nap time moves to 12:30 as well.
If you feel like your child needs slightly longer to adjust, split the difference for 5 days or even a week before adjusting to 7:00 pm.
Option 3 – Eff it. I’m Just Jumping In.
This is often the approach I take. It’s also the advice I give parents if they are traveling and changing time zones. Just jump right into it!
On Saturday night, do nothing. Go to bed like normal. On Sunday at bedtime, put your child to bed at their normal time. Using the 7:00 bedtime example again – the clock will say 7:00 pm but their body will feel like it’s 6:00 so don’t be surprised if it takes them longer to fall asleep.
Option 4 – Don’t Do Anything at All
With spring and summer upon us, some families like to take advantage of the longer days and want a later schedule with their children anyway. If this is you, then don’t adjust anything. If your child was sleeping from 7:00 pm to 6:00 am, then their new schedule becomes 8:00 pm to 7:00 am. The later mornings are great, unless you need your kids up earlier to get to school or daycare on time.
For babies who are newborn to 7 months or if your child is not on a predictable schedule yet, this time change is usually pretty easy. Just roll into the new time.
Create a DARK Sleep Environment
The great thing about spring and summer is the longer days, but with that comes sun streaming into our bedrooms earlier. The most important thing to keep in mind if you don’t want your child to start waking earlier and earlier is to make sure their room is DARK. Put up blackout curtains or blinds. Even try to keep out the light that comes in around the perimeter of the window. If your child tends to be more sensitive to light, you’ll want to really make this a priority.
I have found that most children adjust fairly quickly, especially those who have healthy sleep hygiene. Whatever option you choose to go with, once on the new time, commit to it so your child’s adjustment phase can be as short as possible.
If you need help adjusting to this time change or need help with your child’s sleep schedule in general, schedule a FREE Discovery Call so we can chat.