As a parent, it’s easy to panic at the first mention of an upcoming time change. The good news for you is that the upcoming “spring forward” time change is the easier of the two. It may even be music to your ears if you have a child who likes to wake at 5 a.m.
When the clock “springs forward” by an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, you may “lose” an hour overnight. Your child, however, does not know this. If your child usually wakes at 5 a.m., she will wake at 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 11! Even if it feels like 5 a.m, the clock will say 6 a.m. And that’s all that matters…right?!
Because exposure to light stops the production of melatonin, it’s important to make sure your child’s room is as dark as possible during sleep times. It won’t be bright in the morning on the first day of the time change. It will begin to get brighter as the month goes on and sunrise shifts to an earlier and earlier time. Invest in some good blackout shades to help keep your child’s room dark for sleep. Similarly, when it’s time to be awake, get outside or open the shades and let the natural light in. This helps them regulate to the “new” time more quickly.
If you’re still kinda freaking out about the whole thing, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered.
Do you have one of those kids who easily adapts to changes in her schedule? Follow this plan:
Do nothing. Let your child sleep until she wakes up on Sunday (an hour later!) and then follow the clock. Offer naps and meals at the normal times according to the clock.
Do you have a kid who freaks out when anything changes in her schedule? Follow this plan:
Start adjusting naptimes/bedtimes a few days prior to the time change by backing things up a bit ahead of time. If normal wake time is 7 a.m., you can start a few days prior by waking her at 6:15 a.m., and then at 6 a.m. for a few days. When the time changes, 6 a.m. becomes 7 a.m., and she’s back to where she started.
Have a flexible schedule and want your child to keep waking an extra hour later? Follow this plan:
On Sunday, March 11, shift your child’s schedule forward by one hour. For instance, if your child normally wakes at 5:30 a.m. and naps at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., on Sunday her wake up will be at 6:30 a.m., with naps at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. If her bedtime is generally around 6:30 p.m., it will now be at 7:30 p.m. Your child should naturally stay with this new schedule because it’s actually the same as her old schedule, just with “new times” on the clock. Some children, however, will naturally shift back to their “old” schedule. Because who doesn’t want to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to see mommy and daddy?
Children with healthy sleep hygiene should adjust to this time change very easily. In fact, many won’t miss a beat. Others may take a few days to adjust, but regulating light exposure will help this, so get outside and enjoy some fresh air! Happy spring!