Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2:00 a.m. marks the end of daylight savings and return to standard time. That means that you’ll need to turn your clocks back one hour to 1:00 a.m. It also means that your children are likely to wake up 1 hour earlier at 5:00 or 6:00 am. While adults may think that turning back time means they gain an extra hour to sleep in, that doesn’t usually happen in a household with little children and so here are a few tips to help keep your kids on track as we “Fall Back.”
- If you don’t already have a solid bedtime routine, get started! Your bedtime routine will be your child’s best tool to make it through the time change with the least amount of difficulty. Keep the bedtime routine to 30-40 min. Start with a warm bath, followed by brushing of the teeth, diapers and pajamas, and finishing off the routine in your child’s room with choice and/or combination of lullabies and stories. The key is to keep your routine consistent and prevent it from dragging out.
- Avoid food or snacks once the bedtime routine has started. Eating too close to bedtime is likely to lead to indigestion, and can also cause discomfort for children that have reflux if they are expected to lie down immediately after eating.
- Expose your child(ren) to as much fresh air and sunlight during their waking periods as possible. This will help “reset” your children’s biological clock and help them adjust to the times that they should be awake or sleeping.
While this isn’t necessary for all children, you can help your child adjust better to the time change by pushing bed and mealtimes back in 15 min increments on a daily basis a few days before.
• On November 2nd, delay all meals* and sleep times by 15 min
• On November 3rd, delay all meals* and sleep routines by 30 min
• On November 4th, delay all meals* and sleep routines by 45 min
• On November 5th (end of DST), have all meals and sleep times happen according to your normal schedule.
* This isn’t always possible due to scheduled daily activities like school or other lessons.
4. If you have a toddler or preschooler that tends to be an early riser, definitely have a conversation with them, giving them the heads up about the time change and if you are already using a tot clock or similar “ok to wake” tool, adjust the timing along with the instruction in tip #3. Personally, I like to use a lamp on a timer, so that the lamp turns off at the end of the bedtime routine, and turns on in the morning when it is ok to wake up and leave the room. If your child does wake up before it’s “ok to wake” let them know it’s ok to be awake, but it’s not polite to wake up everyone else in the house who want to sleep. They can stay in bed and try to go back to sleep, or if they really can’t sleep, then they can quietly find an activity to do in their room. You may choose to introduce a “quiet activity” box in their room that will include things like colouring books, puzzles, Lego or Duplo blocks, etc.
Unfortunately, this time change is something that we have to deal with twice a year. If you choose not to adjust for the timeline, or simply can’t because of previously scheduled activities that you have commitments to, know that the bedtime routine, really is your best tool to keep your kids on track. There will be some crankiness initially, and early wake ups in the the days following the time change, but if you keep your kids on track with consistent bedtime routines and timing, their bodies will adjust within a few days to a week. Remember that consistency is key! What have you found that helped your kids adjust best to time changes?