Falling Back: How to Support Your Child Through the Time Change

by added on 5 November 2020, Comments Off on Falling Back: How to Support Your Child Through the Time Change , posted in Blog
By: Maggie Homer, Parent Educator

Daylight savings snuck up on our family this year. Usually we try to start shifting our family sleep schedule back a couple days before we lose that precious hour of sleep, but not this year. If you’re anything like me and your kids are waking up at 5 AM and going to bed before 6 PM, here are 3 simple ideas to help ease the transition and get on to a more traditional sleep schedule.

1. 15-minute Increments

Dr. Daniel Lewin, associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., encourages parents to slowly shift your child’s sleep schedule back by 15-minute increments. On the first day, put them to bed 15 minutes later than usual. The next day, try to push your child’s bedtime 30 minutes later than normal and so on until you’ve made up that lost hour. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make up the whole hour. If your child is incredibly overtired after day 2 when you move bedtime back 30 minutes, just stick with 30 minutes again the next night. Your child will eventually make up the hour. Every child’s body reacts differently to shifting bedtimes. Your goal is to get as close to adjusted as possible, but do not feel the need to force the hour change if your child’s body is not handling it well.

2. Consistent Routine

A consistent bedtime routine is always essential to bedtime success, but even more so when going through a time change. If you do not have a bedtime routine in place, check out The 5 Senses at Bedtime for a printable to write out your family plan.

Time changes mess with the circadian rhythms of your child’s sleep. By maintaining the bedtime routine, you can almost “trick” your child’s body into the new bedtime. When you engage the 5 senses like always, it will signal the production of melatonin and help your child fall asleep easier at the new time.

3. Be Patient

I know by day 2 of a new sleep pattern I’m feeling pretty defeated, frustrated, and tired myself, but I encourage you to be patient with your child and yourself. USA Today suggests giving the time change a full week before trying any other new changes to the bedtime routine. Too much change at one time can be overwhelming and stressful for little ones, making bedtime even more difficult. If you are still struggling after a full week of attempting to shift the sleep pattern, check in with your parent educator for guidance and support.

You’ve Got This!

I hope these 3 simple strategies for supporting your child through the time change help you feel like you have a concrete plan in place to tackle this transition (and hopefully someday we just do away with daylight savings all together!). I encourage you to look at this time of transition with the perspective of using those extra 15 minutes each day to spend bonding with your child, playing a game, reading a story, or cuddling. By filling that space with something to connect you and your child, it makes the time pass more quickly at the end of a long and surely exhausting day. Instead of fighting to keep your child awake, prepare and give you and your child something to look forward to at the end of the day while you both ease into this new routine. You’ve got this!

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