It certainly doesn't feel spring-like here in Alberta quite yet but the clocks are changing this weekend so hopefully Mother Nature gets the memo that spring should be coming. Time changes can be especially challenging for families with little ones who have no concept of the fact that they are either losing or gaining an hour of sleep. In the case of the Spring time change we are "springing forward" and losing an hour. Time changes are rough but there are three things that you can do to make it easier on everyone in your house.
1. Start adjusting your child's schedule. Ideally you start this a week ahead of time and adjust the entire day by 10mins. In the spring you adjust the time back so for a child who usually goes to bed at 7pm, start moving closer to 6pm so that by the time we change the clocks your child is going to bed at the 'new" 7pm. If you don't have the luxury of starting a week ahead of time you can start this anytime and within a week your child will be back on track.
2. Prepare yourself for a week of potentially disturbed sleep. Sometimes no matter how much you prepare your child and try to alter their schedule, the first week after a time change can be rough. Some babies or older children don't like having their schedule altered by even 10mins so in that case just take it as it comes. Keep a consistent routine as much as possible, don't worry so much about the time, but keep routines the same. Babies and toddlers don't know how to tell time, their day functions on routine and recognizing patterns. They know that after their bath and story that it's time for bed. They don't follow the clock the way that adults do. The saving grace here is that children usually adjust and reset their internal clocks within a week.
3. Blackout blinds! Everyone should have blackout blinds or curtains in their bedroom, children especially. Now that the days will be getting longer and it will be light into the evening hours, they will be even less inclined to go to bed when it's light outside. Close the blinds when you are starting to prepare for bedtime and dim the lights in the house. This will signal their circadian rhythm to start producing melatonin (in babies older than 3mo) the sleepy hormone that tells them bedtime is coming. Children that nap during the day should be napping in a room that is just as dark during the day as it is at night. Blackout blinds are a must!
The good news is that children tend to tolerate the spring time change better than the fall time change. If the weather starts to cooperate it will also be nice to have more daylight and outside time in the evenings. Spring IS coming!
Remember that you can always reach out for help. I am here to support you!