Our "Spring Forward" Survival Hacks
Did you know that it’s almost time to set our clocks forward? That’s right, Daylight Savings Time kicks off on Sunday, March 11th (North America) and on Sunday, March 25th (Europe).
While you may L-O-V-E the long summer days ahead, most parents I know aren’t jazzed about the time change itself. And why should we be? Navigating a time difference with kids can suck. Depending on how sensitive your child is to variations in rhythms, you might be looking at one or two “off” days–or two weeks of a late bedtime and failed naps.
With that in mind, here are my top hacks to survive the spring forward:
On Sunday morning, wake up your child at his normal waking hour.You’re probably thinking, whaaat!? And miss that extra hour of sleep!? Oh hell no! Trust me on this one. If you want a hard, fast reset on your little one’s sleep schedule, the best way is to stick to the new clock time. Yes, he’ll be tired in the morning–but that’ll ensure that he goes down for his nap at the usual time.
Use light to your advantage. Our circadian rhythms are controlled by exposure to light and dark. Speed up the transition time by exposing your little one to lots of natural light in the morning and, as evening approaches, dim the lights in the house to signal that it’s almost bedtime. (If you have an older child, he may say, “But it’s not bedtime! The sun is still out!” The solution: Blackout curtains FTW!)
Follow the new clock schedule as much as possible for sleep and meal times from Day One. Our bodies respond to sleep/awake cues as much as to hunger cues. It’s normal that your little one’s hunger may be an hour behind for a few days — nonetheless,do your best to sync up her sleeping and eating schedules with the new clock time.
One last note: Every year around this time, parents ask me if they can use the time change to their advantage. (E.g., if their child has been sleeping 7am – 7pm, can they just permanently shift to their desired schedule of 8am – 8pm?) You can try, but it usually doesn’t work. Just like with jet lag, our bodies naturally transition to “local” time within a few days. So while you may be able to enjoy the new schedule for a few days (go for it!), most likely your child will revert back to the clock schedule that worked for his body.
This was originally published in the Bonne Nuit Baby newsletter. Want monthly sleep tips? Sign uphere.