Springing forward….what is a parent to do?
Ahh spring is finally just around the corner…I hope! It seems that it has been a long sunless winter here in the Midwest! I am ready for some real sunshine. That is what I hate the most about midwest winters, the lack of blue sky and sun. Spring brings more outdoor time for parents and children, teaching moments about nature, fewer battles with jackets, hats, and mittens, and Daylight Savings Time. Whenever the clock changes, I get countless questions on how to make the transition easier for parents and children. It is difficult sometimes for a child that is very structured in routine to jump and hour ahead in the spring or fall back an hour in the fall. There are two ways to handle the transition.
- You can wing it. Go cold turkey with the switch. The day before the time changes on Saturday morning, you can just wake your child at the “new” time, so if they normally get up at 7:00 am wake your child at the new 7:00 am time (which will actually be 6:00 am), and deal with a crankier child. This will provide a little sleep deficit helping your child be tired a bit earlier that evening. Hopefully you can put your child to bed at the “new” 7:00 pm time on Saturday night (actually 6:00 pm before the time change) and your child will not be too overly tired to sleep. Sunday morning be sure that you wake your child on the “new” time at 7:00 am because daylight savings time starts during the night. There may be a couple of days of transition. Actually, if you have a child who is rising too early, the switch to daylight savings time may actually help you out!
- You can plan for the change starting now. I prefer this option, it seems like a more gradual adjustment. Then again, I could prefer it because I sometimes tend to be a bit of a “control freak”. Starting tonight, move your whole nighttime routine up by 15 minutes. This will include dinner, bath, story and bedtime. On Saturday night, move the routine another 15 minutes. Do the same on Sunday night. By doing this, on Sunday evening you will have adjusted your child’s routine by nearly an hour to the “new” daylight savings time bedtime. Make sense?
Regardless how you choose to change your child’s bedtime to the daylight savings time, there are other challenges with the switch. Black out shades may become a necessity. They were in our house. Somehow it is difficult to convince a child that it is bedtime when the sun is shining….there is no Mr. Moon out yet! The rule of adjusting your child’s clock with light is still important but difficult when it is light until 9:30 pm here in Indiana. Start dimming the lights in the house and finish your bedtime routine with the black out shades pulled in the bedroom. This will remove the light from your child’s eyes, help adjust their inner clock, and “prove” to them that it is indeed night!
When the clock switches, it is also a great time to check those batteries in the smoke detectors in your home. Keep on top of keeping you and your child safe.
So, either have a plan for the switch, or “wing it” but be sure that your child is getting enough sleep! Sleep is so important for your child and you too! Looking forward to spring!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.