We’ve all been talking about March 12th for over a week now—the date that the statewide mask mandate ends here in Washington. But there’s another important event taking place this weekend: Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 13th.
When you go to bed on Saturday, be sure to set your clocks an hour forward as we spring into Spring! And for those with kids out there…now may be a good time to start getting prepared for the change. After all, going to bed earlier can be tough for even grown adults—especially when the sun begins to set a bit later each evening.
If you’re a parent looking to keep the breakdowns at bay, keep reading for 5 tips to get your child prepared for Daylight Saving Time this Sunday.
1. Shift their schedule
If you can start a few days in advance, you may be able to slowly nudge sleep to where you need it. Try to start a few days to a week before and move bedtime by 15 minutes at a time every two days. Keep this trick in mind for nap times too, moving them forward by 15 minutes every two days if possible.
If your child won’t have it, focus on the act of calming down instead of sleeping. Even if your child’s eyes aren’t closed, just the act of slowing down, getting their PJs on, and relaxing can make a big difference.
2. Control the light
Daylight Saving Time can throw our natural cycle out of whack a bit, and this can be particularly difficult for children. Counteract this by being mindful of light exposure!
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s internal circadian clock. It increases in the evening as it becomes dark, which helps induce sleep. During the daytime, light can increase wakefulness and alertness.
Even if the sun is still out at bedtime, you can mimic nighttime buy dimming the lights in your home leading up to bedtime. This goes for electronics too, which should be turned off about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. You may also want to consider putting up black-out curtains in your child’s bedroom, especially if their bedroom window is west-facing.
In the morning, be sure to get your kids outside and expose them to some sunshine! You can also let sunlight into their room every morning to help “reset” their circadian rhythm.
3. Stick with routine
All parents know how important routines are for kids. When Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, it’s especially important to stick with a bedtime routine. A consistent routine can be a powerful signal for sleep—a process for calming down and soothing your kiddo prior to lights out.
Don’t have a bedtime routine? Try giving your child a warm bath at nighttime, followed by a calming story time and snuggle. When done consistently each evening, your kids will learn to associate these activities with sleepy time.
4. Wear them out
When is this NOT important for good sleep!? Get those kiddos moving during the daytime in order to ensure an easier—and maybe earlier—bedtime! The night or two leading up to Daylight Saving Time, make it a point to increase day-time activity, and when possible, get your kids outdoors. Everyone sleeps better after some fresh air, even if rain may be in our forecast.
Be sure to wind down at least 30 minutes leading up to bedtime though, to ensure that your kiddos aren’t overstimulated and overtired. Nothing is worse than an overtired child, after all!
5. Be patient
Change takes time. If you’re working to reset sleep schedules, try to be more forgiving if your child is throwing extra temper tantrums and seems to be particularly difficult. Keep in mind that this shift can cause such short-term changes in your child’s mood, but that these changes are temporary.
It’s also important to remember to take care of yourself, too! If you’re feeling tired or cranky, make sure to give your body what it needs. If sleep is difficult or if your kids are trying to pull all-nighters (as they do), try not to overcompensate with caffeine throughout the day. Instead, remember to eat well, get active, and drink plenty of water.