By TMoM Team Member Sydney D. Richardson, Ph. D.

Daylight Savings Time takes place this coming Sunday, March 13! Whether we are ready for it or not, it’s coming. It can take some time for adults to adjust to the new time change each year and we even feel a bit “off” when the change takes place. So it makes complete sense that children struggle with the time (and light) change as well.

I remember when my children were babies and they had their sleeping routines. The hubby and I tried everything to get the children on a schedule; eventually it worked, except for one particular time during the year: daylight savings. I dreaded this time because I knew how hard it would be to get the kids to bed, knowing that they’d be up as soon as the sun rose. Nothing seemed work. Not only did the children not want to sleep, but they woke up as soon as the sunlight came through (which was early). This shouldn’t have surprised us because we often remembered being kids and thinking that sleep was boring; however, we were hoping ours would actually enjoy sleep. What made this time of year even worse was that we, like most households, worked full-time, so sleep was a great necessity.

Fast forward a few years and we now have a system that works.  Now I must say this: we are not sleep experts.  What works for our household may not work for others. Now that that has been stated, let’s keep going. We finally found some tricks that worked for the children and have had them falling asleep quickly ever since. Hopefully, this works for others as well:

Turn off the devices

Now this seems like a no-brainer, but we turned off the devices. This included the television at least 30 minutes before bed.  Instead, we talked, played games or read stories. This allowed everyone to relax instead of getting stimulated by electronics.

Wear the kids out

One gripe from my children is that it gets darker earlier, so there’s less time for park play. This is true, so I had to think of different ways to tire them out before bed. On some days, they went to the park right after school to get some energy out. Other days, we put music on after dinner and let them dance until they were tired.

Put them to bed a bit earlier

This one can cause some tantrums at time, but it’s another trick that works.  Even though it gets darker early, it’s also lighter earlier in the morning, which means that children might wake earlier. This equals less sleep for everyone, so put them to bed a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) earlier than their normal bedtime. Eventually, their sleep schedules will even out.  *This means that you might have to adjust eating times, but do what works.

Allow playtime in the room

As my children grew, one child beautifully adapted to sleeping within 10 minutes of having the lights out, while the other was taking up to an hour to fall asleep. This is my child who truly thinks that sleep is boring and will come out of the bedroom every two minutes for yet another request. One night, we decided to let the child play, as long as it was in the bedroom. About 20 minutes later, we found said child curled up in a ball on the floor fast asleep. It was wonderful.  While this can cause some parents anxiety, allowing an energetic child to play until they sleep could be a good trick. *Be sure to check on them until they are asleep.

Blackout curtains

If nothing else works, this is a great way to get children in the mood for sleeping. Blackout curtains work wonders for eliminating bright light and making a room dark, simulating nighttime. This is perfect for later mornings.

Sleep schedules and children often do not mix; however, the tips above are great ways to begin a new sleep routine during daylight savings. For busy working parents, these tricks also take much hassle out of bedtime.

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