3 Daylight Savings Tips: The Parent-Dreaded "Fall Back"
HOORAY for Fall and all things pumpkin, especially those pumpkin spiced lattes... mmm! But, with Fall comes the dreaded day light savings for parents. On Sunday, we will be setting our clocks back an hour at 2am! While we might gain an extra hour on the clock, our little ones may not know the difference and will get up earlier - at 5:30am instead of 6:30am! EEEK! I mean we all already need as much sleep as we can get, and now our little ones are getting up even earlier on the clock! Ok, don't worry (too much)... there is a "plan". Actually, there is more than one plan, but choose the one that feels best to you. The important thing is that you are CONSISTENT, so your little one can become accustomed to these new set hours more easily. Using these 3 tips will make your life much easier when it comes to Day Light Savings:
1. GOOD SLEEP PRACTICES: Before getting into the details about dealing with those earlier hours, it's important to have good sleep practices in place that will get your little one back on track. Here are some things to consider before you move into your plan:
Room Environment: A dark room is critical with brighter mornings. Any bit of light from the sun coming into your little one's room can signal that it's time to get up. After all, they learn in preschool that it's morning time when the sun comes up (I'm all too familiar with that reason for getting out of bed in my house!). Use blackout shades if necessary.
Temperature of Room: A cool temperature between 68-72 degrees promotes optimal sleeping conditions and will help your little one regulate his/her core body temperature..
White Noise: Make sure the white noise you use is true ambient "shhhhhh" noise. Any noise with fluctuation in it (for instance rain, songs, ocean) will activate your little one's brain as they get into lighter stages of sleep and will lead to more wakings.
2. CHOOSE AN APPROACH TO GET THERE:
GRADUAL APPROACH (BEST FOR THOSE STILL NAPPING): You can start 1 week ahead of the actual time change and adjust your little ones schedule 15 minutes every two days. For example, if your little one's bedtime is 7pm, put your baby down at 7:15pm on Monday and Tuesday, and get him/her up for the day at 7:15am. And then adjust naps and mealtimes by the same 15 minutes, as well. Then Wednesday and Thursday your baby's bedtime would be at 7:30pm and wake time 7:30am. Friday and Saturday 7:45pm and 7:45am. And then once you get to Sunday, you're back on a 7am to 7pm schedule. The best thing about this option is you are getting a little more grace period in the morning for yourself.
COLD TURKEY (BEST FOR NON-NAPPERS - although the above works for non-nappers too): The other option is to go cold turkey. You do everything as you normally would, but on Sunday morning you get your little ones up for the day when s/he wakes up (it will probably be between 5:30-6:00am -Yikes, I know... (or go with the gradual change above). What actually changes here is bedtime, you will start putting him/her down for bed 30 minutes early.
For example, let's say your little one went to bed at 7:00pm on that Saturday night. Sunday morning, s/he wakes up at 5:30am on the new clock. Sunday night you will put your little one down for bed at 6:30pm the latest (you may even need to do 6:00pm). Once your little one starts to wake up at their usual time, you can move bedtime back to its original time.
Also, if your little one is still sleeping at 7am on the new clock, get them up for the day, so his/her body clock (circadian rhythm) can be set with the rising and setting of the sun. Just be mindful that this approach may take your little one a few days to a week to fully adjust.
3. DAILY ROUTINES: To help with the adjustment on the new clock, it's really important to do everything during the day on the new clock, as well. This includes mealtimes, napping, any outings that may occur... Don't think about what time it would have been. Always use the new clock time to do all your regular daily activities. Our little ones thrive on routine, so the more consistent you are with the day, the easier it will be for them to adjust with nighttime sleep, as well.
While you may not get that extra hour of sleep now that you're a parent, deciding on an approach in advance and being consistent with it will help with the transition of "falling back". If you have more questions about day light savings... feel free to reach out and ask!