4 Ways Parents Can Make The End Of Daylight Saving Time Suck Less
Don't let the end of daylight saving time catch you — and your kids — unaware.
Halloween has come and gone. Now, before Thanksgiving, parents are watching the calendar for another date: the end of daylight saving time. It’s a day we dread, but it’s one we can’t ignore, and it’s happening soon. But don’t fret. Here’s what you need to do to minimize the stress of the day.
On Sunday, November 6, at 2 a.m. local time, daylight saving time ends. The time bumps back an hour this time, otherwise known as “falling back.” So although you do gain one more hour of sleep, many parents know that’s really only what happens in theory, and the sudden change in schedule can throw kids all out of wack. Ask any parent and they’ll say that whether daylight saving time ends or starts, our kids feel it, and so does our schedule.
While the time switch is crappy, and the winter nights get longer, there are four ways you can start tackling the end of Daylight Saving to help prepare your family, and in particular your children, so it doesn’t hit everyone’s energy and mood so hard. Here are the best strategies.
Gradually Adjust Their Schedules
You’re already a little late to start prepping your kids for Sunday, November 6th, but you can still act. We know that on paper the time change is only an hour, but that hour can be big for little kids. If you want to help avoid an abrupt change that shifts the whole day, start adjusting small amounts all week.
Start putting your children to bed — and waking them up — at slightly earlier times, say, by 15-minute intervals, over the next few days, so that when the clock falls back a whole hour, they aren’t shocked the next morning or night.
“If you want, you can even start making this change earlier, and just shift times earlier by 5 or 10 minutes,” Connecticut Children’s Hospital suggests. Since you’re a little late, you might want to shift it back by 15 or 20 minutes, but get going now.
Keep Routines Consistent
Most parents will tell you that kids thrive within the structure of routines. Most parents will also admit that it can be challenging to keep set — and sometimes even loose — routines amidst the unpredictability of family life.
But as creatures of habit, routines compose a powerful cadence that signal the body and mind that it’s time for a specific event. It might not feel like it’s time to go to sleep at the start of those first few bedtimes after daylight saving time ends, but by the time your kid has completed all of the usual bedtime beats, their little body might just be convinced that it’s time to call it a night.
Morning routines can be similarly effective. Be prepared for the initial wakeup to be a bit rocky and perhaps take a few minutes longer than usual. But sticking with the normal progression of tasks that are required to get out of the house should be familiar enough by this point in the school year that your kids can do them in their sleep. Or at least groggily as they slowly wake up.
Start on Saturday — Not Sunday
If you don’t want to take a week to shift the schedule of you and your children, just crank those clocks back on Saturday night. You could get the whole house involved and shift back your oven clocks, wall clocks, and analog watches. Granted, you may need to hide phones from your kids so they’re not confused or the wiser.
Connecticut Children’s Hospital suggests that rather than gradually waking up your kids earlier, you could start the shift on Saturday night. Shift the clock back an hour on Saturday evening instead of waiting for the next day, so you can avoid doing it right before kids need to get up early on Monday morning. Giving them a whole day to adjust on Sunday is a nicer, easier, and less stressful way to have kids be groggy and lazy.
“Get your child up at the time they’ll need to rise on Monday morning,” the hospital explains. “Right away, get them out and about in sunlight for 30 to 60 minutes. Have breakfast at the new time, too.” Then, in the afternoon and evening hours, continue to shift their routine to the “new times” of the end of daylight saving. By the next day, they’ll be a little bit more ready to handle it, but still not fully there. “It should take your child about a week to adjust,” according to the hospital. “In the meantime, be patient if they’re a little moody.”
The time change may be a difficult adjustment, but it won’t be a surprise. And in the grand scheme of things, the adjustment period will be relatively short. Considering ahead of time how to stay calm amidst predictable frustrations will help ease overall household stress and prevent cycles of agitation that can make bedtimes and mealtimes particularly rocky.
Keeping in mind that your parental fuse might be shorter than usual as you adjust to the time change, this could be a good time to identify simple and quick ways to reduce stress while on the go.
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