This article appeared on The Sleep and Wellness Coach. Allison Egidi is a Charlottesville mom of 2 and a certified pediatric sleep consultant and owner of Sleep and Wellness Coach, LLC.Thanks Allison for sharing your article with Charlottesville Moms!
You’ve just gotten your baby sleeping through the night and your preschooler on their back-to-school sleep schedule. And now… the dreaded fall time change is just around the corner!
Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 3rd. I want to put your mind at ease right now. The time change is not something to stress about. I promise.
I’ll admit that the fall time change can be a little less fun than the spring change because the clock is turning back. BUT, if handled with just the slightest bit of pre-planning, the time change can be a non-event.
The time changes while you’re sleeping Saturday night. By Monday morning, I want you to be done thinking about it.
There are a lot of posts out there recommending you adjust your child’s schedule gradually over a period of one to two weeks. I used to even provide this approach as an option, but this year I’m not because the risk of creating a problem when you start manipulating a good schedule is too great. I strongly encourage you to make no adjustments before Sunday, November 3rd.
HOW TO ADJUST TO THE FALL TIME CHANGE IN ONE DAY
The most important step: Do. Nothing. And then make a small tweak. Don’t worry or think about the time change until Sunday, November 3rd.
Here’s what you’re going to do the weekend of the time change:
- On Saturday night you’re going to put your little one (and yourself) to bed at the normal time.
- On Sunday morning, everyone is going to wake at their normal time. So, if your child typically wakes at 6:30 A.M., that’s when they will wake up. The reality is that it’s actually 5:30 A.M. No problem – no one should be tired yet because everyone went to bed on time and got the right amount of sleep. Get up and change your clocks to the new time.
- The only change to your child’s schedule I’d like you to make on Sunday is doing everything 30 minutes earlier than normal. For example, if your child normally naps at 12 P.M., put them down for their nap at the “new” 11:30 A.M. If their normal bedtime is 7 P.M., put them down at the “new” 6:30 P.M. on Sunday night. Result: On Sunday you have shifted them halfway to the new time.
- On Monday morning, go back to your normal schedule. Using the same example as above, you will put your child down for their regular 12 P.M. nap on Monday and bedtime will be 7 P.M.
How easy was that?!
You’re skeptical, I know.
SO WHY DOES THIS APPROACH WORK?
Your child’s (and your) biological sleep rhythms are primarily driven by two things… natural light/darkness and the schedule/rhythm of the day (school start time, meal times, etc.).
By Monday morning, your schedule will be normal – eat breakfast at a normal time, drop off at daycare/school at the regular time, eat lunch at the same old time, get home at the usual time, eat dinner, etc. This is why a slow tinkering of your kiddo’s schedule leading up to the time change can backfire, the rhythm of their day hasn’t yet changed. As soon as it does change, your little one can adjust quickly.
I have a very sensitive child. Don’t they need a more gradual approach? I hear you. I have a very sensitive child and an easy-going chid. The less is more approach has always worked well for both of them. In fact, I would argue that the slow adjustment is more likely to throw off a sensitive child.
What do I do if we use a toddler clock? First, yay for toddler clocks! I am a big believer that every child over the age of 2 years old should have one. Now, how to handle the clock. Don’t change the clock at all Saturday night. Adjust the clock nap timing on Sunday to provide for the typical nap length with the nap starting 30 minutes earlier. When you put your kiddo to bed Sunday night, have the clock set on the new time and set it to “wake” at it’s normal wake time.
What do I do if my kiddo doesn’t shift right over and is waking early or taking short naps? Stay the course with your normal schedule with the new time. If they are taking shorter naps and/or waking too early, remember that an early bedtime is your friend. Putting your child to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal can help fix sooo many issues.
ON NOVEMBER 3RD I’LL BE OFFERING ONLINE SUPPORT ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE AS YOU WORK THROUGH THE TRANSITION. Look for a post to go up that morning and then I’ll go live to answer questions at 3 P.M. EST.