Springing Forward WITH KIDS
Few things make a parent shudder as much as messing with her kids’ sleep, especially during those first parenting years. The baby stage is marked by constant fluctuations in sleep needs and schedules, and for this schedule mom, it seemed like just as we climbed the “we’re all sleeping” mountain, the daylight saving precipice came along.
Excuse me for a moment (WHYYYYYY?!). Whew, ok.
But really, there’s no reason to fear the impending March 14 shift! Here are a few tips, tricks and encouragement to get you over the time change hump. We can do this.
The Bright Side
There are actually a couple great things about losing sleep! No, really!
Bright and (not as) Early
As a parent, I actually prefer springing forward. Fall back has become a constant source for disappointment. Each year, the promise of an extra hour of sleep starting in November is dashed by my kids waking up at the SAME EXACT TIME as always. Parenting, it seems, really does turn the world upside down.
Here’s another silver lining for you fellow bright-and-early parents: springing forward can actually guide your kids to a more socially acceptable wake up. When my boys were babies, they routinely woke at 6 a.m. instead of the much more desirable 7. After springing forward, their natural wake up was perfect. Sleep issue solved, overnight! If only everything in the sleep world were that easy.
I can also appreciate the re-entry of sunny spring afternoons. We’re taking advantage of it immediately by kicking off my oldest’s soccer season this weekend. More light in the evenings means more time for kids to be kids outdoors during the post-school hours! With two high-energy kids, I’ve been counting down to more sun since chilly, dark evenings kicked in after the November time shift.
The best way to prep for time change is to make sure you have a solid schedule and sound sleep practices around your house.
Humans and our sleep rhythms are highly affected by light. Take advantage of this for your tiniest sleepers! Make sure your kids get plenty of sunlight during the day, and then signal sleepy time by dimming the lights. Bonus points for changing the sounds in your house, too. Use softer voices and enhance bedtime with white noise.
The biggest question when it comes to time change is how to sync your kids’ schedule with the new clock time. Many sleep experts recommend a gradual process — slowly moving bedtime earlier by 15 minutes each day. If that makes sense to you, go for it! I’m more of a cold turkey person, and have found that changing the clocks and bedtimes all on Saturday evening works well for us.
No matter your method, maintain your bedtime ritual. It looks a little different for each family, but always think "soothing" for inspiration. Ours is pretty standard: potty, brush and read in bed. As long as your ritual is consistent, you can copy and paste your routine to a different time with ease.
When my boys moved out of their cribs, I got kid-friendly alarm clocks. I can program the clocks to change colors depending on where my kids are supposed to be. The clocks have been a great way to visually signal both bedtime (yellow light!) and wake up time (green light!). If your kids are used to following their clock colors, they’ll be more likely to adjust to an hour shift here or there.