How to Manage the Time Change with Kids

“I hate the time change!”

Said every parent of a young child ever.

The switch to daylight savings can wreak such havoc on our kids’ sleep (and therefore ours) it can make us all want to move to Saskatchewan. Or Arizona.

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When the clocks spring ahead (in 2019 it’s Sunday, March 10), it can mean your kids won’t be tired until an hour after their usual bedtime, according to the clock.

If their normal bedtime is 7 p.m., after the time change they won’t be tired until the “new” 8 p.m.

But they still have to get up for daycare and school, and you for work the next day. That can mean each of you is missing an hour of sleep.

(That’s why the Monday after the daylight-savings switch has the highest car-accident rate of any day of the year; sleep-deprived drivers lack focus and attention.) 

Not that your kids will be driving, but they still have to function and keep their emotions from spilling out of their overtired ears by the end of the day. We probably all know what our little ones look like on exactly one hour less sleep.

So, the good news: you don’t have to move to Saskatchewan, or Arizona, as lovely as both those places are.  There is a simple method to help your child (and you) gradually adjust to the spring-ahead time change that will have you all waking up feeling, well, just normal-tired on Monday morning.

But you have to start tonight….

Let’s say your baby’s or big-kids’ bedtime is 7:30.

Tonight, put them to bed about 10 minutes earlier than usual. It’s a small enough amount that they likely won’t notice. (For that, you’ll have to bump up every part of the bedtime routine and pre-empt that plea for “one more story” or another glass of water.)

Repeat that schedule the next night.

Then put them to bed 10 or 15 minutes earlier again.

Repeat that bedtime for another night.

Then again, 10-15 minutes earlier the next night, and you see where this is going.

When you ease bedtime back 10 or 15 minutes every second night, by the time Saturday night rolls around, your kids will be tucked in at 6:45 p.m., which on Sunday will “spring ahead” to be the new 7:45 and you only have to adjust to a 15-minute time change.

It takes a little bit of military precision with the bedtime routine to make this strategy work, but that will only help your kids fall asleep more easily anyway.

And don’t forget – get yourself to bed earlier too! That pitter-patter will be coming your way a bit sooner until we all spring ahead.