Time To FALL… Back In Time (How to cope with the end of Daylight Savings)

It seems like there is always something happening that throws another hurdle at our parenting endeavors.  As if parenting isn’t difficult enough, let’s throw a big schedule change into the mix!

During the first few weeks of life, we wait and try to shift our babies from thinking that they are vampire babies who must sleep all day and be awake at night, to human babies who eat during the day and sleep, at least a little, at night. Then we wait for melatonin production to kick in after 3 months. After the most dreaded sleep regression at 4 months, we finally get babies that sleep a little deeper and a little longer.  Then, at last,  the magic of our baby safely rolling onto their tummy for sleep… ah bliss.  

Then this awful Daylight Savings Ending malarkey comes along that throws off all our schedules. Parents are thrown off their schedules and have to deal with cranky kids who are also thrown off their schedules.  At least we adults know what is going on, even if we don’t fully understand why this outdated practice persists.  Babies and toddlers, on the other hand, have no idea! All they know is what their body is telling them. Their needs are determined by their biological clock, not some social construct.

It is nice to gain an extra hour and to have that bonus time in bed. More than likely though, if you are a parent, it has been a long time since you have had that pleasure.

Dealing with the clocks changing feels like jet lag. In the COVID era, it may be the closest thing to jet lag that we can get! I never thought that I would wish to be jet lagged again, it’s weird how COVID has shifted our priorities. 

Research studies show that our bodies adjust better when going back in time, rather than going forward. If you were flying a long distance, your body will have a more difficult time flying east (forward in time) than if you are flying west (back in time).

Regardless of what you do in preparation for it, there will still be an adjustment. Expect some crankiness, whether in yourself or your child. The darkness of the seasons is known as a time to focus inward and care for yourself. So do just that, and do it with genuine care. As much as you may not want to adjust your family’s routine to the schedule, your kids may feel tired and hungry at earlier times. Remember, feeding them and allowing them to get enough sleep takes priority. (Schedules are great, but no one can function properly on not enough food or sleep.)

If your child typically sleeps well and doesn’t have a negative reaction to change, then go with the flow.  Their new schedule will sort itself out within 1-3 days.  

If your child doesn’t sleep too well, doesn’t react well to change, or wakes early, then preparing for the time change will help shift their biological clocks.  

If you want to prepare, here are a few options: the 10 minute, the 15 minute, and the 30 minute change.

REMEMBER: TO FALL BACK, WE SHIFT OUR SCHEDULE FORWARD in preparation.

In 2021, Daylight Savings Ends on Sunday, November 7th. All dates below reference that date.

Option 1: Preparation in 10 minute increments. Starts Tuesday November 2nd.

Starting on the Tuesday before the time change, start scheduling your child’s day 10 mins later. Remember this includes feeding times.

Tuesday

Instead of 7 am wake up, 7:30 am feed, 9 am nap… Try 7:10 am wake up, 7:40 am feed, 9:10 am nap…

Wednesday 

7:20 am wake up, 7:50 am feed, 9:20 am nap…

Thursday

7:30 am wake up, 7:50 am feed, 9:30 am nap…

And so on. By the time that Sunday rolls around, you will be on the new schedule!

Option 2: Preparation in 15 minute increments. Starts Thursday, November 4th

On the Thursday before the time change, start scheduling your child’s day 15 mins later. Remember this also includes feeding times.

Instead of 7 am wake up, 7:30 am feed, 9 am nap …..

Thursday: 7:15am wake up, 7:45 am feed, 9:15 am nap…

Friday: 7:30 am wake up, 8:00 am feed, 9:30 am nap….

And so on. Again, by the time that Sunday rolls around, you should be on the new schedule!

Option 3: Preparation in 30 minute increments/split the difference. Starts Saturday, November 6th

Instead of 7 am wake up, 7:30 am feed, 9 am nap …..

Saturday: 7:30 am wake up, 8:00 am feed, 9:30 am nap

Sunday: 7:00 am wake up, 7:30 am feed, 9:00 am nap  

(Their schedule will be out of whack by 30 mins but you can adjust it after the fact.)

Option 4: Just go with the flow.

Don’t do anything at all. 

Aim for an activity on Sunday morning. Then keep the day low key for the second part of the day. Don’t overdo things the next day, if possible. A longer nap may help your child adjust to their new bedtime. 

Products that may help:

Black out curtains

Sound machines

**Melatonin 

On the bright side or dark side (?!)

Enjoy the cooler temps, it’s great for snuggle time!  

Don’t worry. In six weeks we will be in the midst of the holidays and everything will get thrown off kilter all over again… 

*Natural melatonin production kicks in during the darkness.

**Melatonin should only be used as a temporary measure with a doctor’s approval

For more information about the history of Daylight Savings and to read about the efforts in some states to cancel it, click here. 

Published by Joan Sleepytime

I am a certified Gentle Sleep Coach.

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