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News Flash: Your child is not going to read the memo about the time change.The good news is you can make the transition a littler smoother with some work. We “spring forward” on March 13th. 

Hey parents! Do you usually forget about the time change?

It’s ok, I forget too. But we can make the transition a little smoother with some work.

On March 13th, we “spring forward” and move our clocks ahead one hour. It takes about a week for kids to adjust to time changes, but with a little work, you can make those six or seven days much calmer. The main trick is to start adjusting their schedule by small increments: bed time, nap time, meals, all of it. So let’s walk through this, partly so you can see how this works and partly so I can “think out loud.”

Child shocked expression with clock

Moving naps and bedtimes

Nap times and bedtimes need to be shifted by an hour … eventually.

If the little one’s bedtime is 8:00, move it in 10 minute increments. Depending on your time frame, you can shift it every 2 to 3 days to help them adjust.

The tricky part for me is when the time changes and we are still in transition mode. If bedtime is 7:50 Thursday night, 7:40 Friday night and 7:30 Saturday night, it jumps to 8:30 on Sunday night and moves back from there. Well, it jumps forwards or backwards depending on which time change we’re dealing with. With luck, we will be back on schedule by next Wednesday or Thursday.

Remember to adjust all of the “timed” activities that happen at a certain time every day the best you can.

Just like the bedtime plan above, adjust meal times over several days.

girl writing on wall calendar

Stick to the routine

Outside of adjusting the timing of key activities, keep the rest of your schedule as normal as possible.

Follow the same order of events for the day and the same schedule for activities on certain days of the week.

If you have a bedtime routine, follow it! For our littles, it’s “bath, book, then bed”. The activities are another signal to your child’s brain that it’s time for sleep.

Kids like consistency and knowing what to expect. Keeping “everything else” as normal as possible will help them have an easier time adjusting to the shifts in meal and bedtimes.

Once they’ve adjusted to the “new” time, still stick to their normal routines and schedules to help solidify the shifts.

Boy sleeping

Adjust the Lighting

The sun will likely still be bright and shining as many little ones are being tucked into bed. If not now, soon.

I remember being 4 or 5 when I first argued with my mother that bed time just could not be during the day!

Black out curtains are wonderful things. Keeping the windows covered and lights low for your bedtime routine will help signal bedtime in their little brains.

Carry that into nap time and you will be golden.

It might take a few days, even weeks to adjust fully. I know kids who still swear something is off with the clocks when it’s light out at 8:00pm yet the sun’s still up!

Another trick I learned from an awesome mom is to use colored light bulbs. Depending on which articles you read, using soft yellow lights or soft blue lights can help.

You can also help kids stay on schedule and wake up easier by having more light during their morning routine. Turn on the lights or open the curtains wide.

Speaking of light, limit screen time during this transition period, too. Television at night before bedtime has been shown to lead kids to both sleep less and stay up even later!

mother and son outside in sun

Keep ’em moving

Keep kids active during the transition days.

An important part of making the time change is to keep kids active during the transition days. Tire them out. Literally. Being active and busy during the day will help them be tired and sleep at night. This is not the time to encourage kids to retire early or nap.

Get outside to soak up some sun. Play games. Go for walks. Work on a garden. Take kids to the playground.

Do whatever makes kids happy and keeps them busy!

Present a united front

Make sure the whole house is on the same page.

If both parents understand the transition schedule, both parents can help. It’s no fun for anyone when you are in the middle of the bedtime routine and your partner comes in loud and rowdy thinking it’s still play time. You shoot that “WHAT are you THINKING?” look and the response is the “What’d I do?” look.

Older kids also need to understand so they remember to keep the noise down earlier for the little ones or start to adjust their own schedules (with some prodding.)

A good trick for school age kids is to make them get up at “normal school wake up time” on the weekends. Then when “wake up time” comes an hour earlier on Monday, their bodies take it a little easier because they think it’s the normal weekend to weekday adjustment.

One of the hardest parts is getting the school age kids in to bed at a decent time.

young girl sleeping

One thing to remember is that kids will probably be a little bit grumpy for the first few days after the time change. This is totally normal, so don’t worry! Just be patient with them and keep things as normal as possible. Try to stick to the plan as much as possible, and make sure that bed time doesn’t get pushed too late.

There are a lot of different things to take into account when it comes to kids and time change, and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. But with a little bit of luck and a lot of encouragement, you can help your kids make the smooth transition from daylight savings time to standard time.

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