Remember when you were a 20-something without kiddos, and the end of Daylight Savings meant a glorious Sunday with an extra hour of time to sleep longer, brunch longer, or just veg longer?  Now that you're a parent {sorry to say this, but...} the fun is over.  The end of Daylight Savings has the potential to wreak havoc on that fall sleep schedule you JUST mastered now that you're 6-8 weeks into your school year with your littles.  Never fear, I have some suggestions to help you this week as you get over your Halloween Hangover and start to move into fall officially!

Note: Those of us in the United States will change our clocks back 1 hour this Sunday, November 6.  This website shows the time changes around the world.

For our Preschool and School-aged children, the most effective way I have found to support healthy sleep habits through the time change transition is to work proactively the week before the change...meaning, starting tonight!  

Step 1: Bedtime Shift Starting Tonight!


Over the next 4 nights, you can ease your child's bedtime a bit later (by only 15-minute increments at most) in order to arrive at the most supportive bedtime on the day we set our clocks back by one hour this weekend.  So, if your child's bedtime is now 7pm (which is perfect for your pre-school and early elementary child!) you can make that 7:15 tonight, 7:30 tomorrow night, 7:45 Friday night, and 8:00 on Saturday night.  Then, when our clocks change on Sunday morning, bedtime for Sunday night will be 7:00 (the old 8:00) and it will be a much smoother transition for your child!  

This means that if your kids were up a bit late on Halloween on Monday night, you can pat yourself on the back for starting this time change transition early!  You're already ahead of the game if bedtime was a bit later than normal ... look at you, planning ahead!

Once you have that plan in place, there are a few other considerations to be mindful of for the rest of this week in preparation for the time change.

Step 2: Shift Naps and Meals

If you can starting today or tomorrow, shift naps and meals by the same 15-minute increment, to make everything just a bit later.  While this might be difficult to do based on your family's overall daytime and evening logistics, the small shifts will really help to solidify the new schedule once Sunday comes.

Step 3: Dramatic Wake Up / Visuals


If your children are anything like my oldest son who wakes up at 6:15am every day, you may see a very early rising starting Sunday.  For my oldest, this early rising can often last the entire first week of the time change.  I like to say that nothing good happens before 6am.  And we know from sleep science that our kids' bodies do need to have a full night's sleep until at least 6am, so we want to try and support that.  

For these kiddos, we want to ensure that their bodies get "reset" and we can support that by making sure that the official morning does not start until 6am or after.  Depending on your child's age and whether he/she is in a crib or a bed, here are some suggestions:

  • If your child is in a crib, you can do "timed checks" in the morning from the time they are up until 6am. So, if your child wakes up at 5am (the old 6am) on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or even Wednesday morning next week, try going in, checking to make sure they are okay, and maybe a quick diaper change in the crib if necessary, and then saying "it's still nighttime, I love you, see you in the morning" and walking out for a few minutes. If your child is crying or screaming for any reason, go in after a minute or two, and say the same thing. Remain neutral and loving, and try to reach into the crib to pat your child's belly or rub his/her head; or reach over the rails if your child is standing up and give a hug. If you can avoid picking your child up, it will probably be best for both of you at this early-morning hour. Once the clock turns to 6am, you can do what we call a Dramatic Wake Up:

    • Leave the room for one minute (use a timer if needed!)

    • Enter the room with "flair" and announce "Good Morning!!" joyfully (muster up as much drama as you can depending on how long you've already been awake!)

    • Open the blinds, turn on the lights, sing your child's favorite morning song, and do anything else that will visually signal that it is time to start the day officially

    • This plan will help your child in a crib see your signals of the official wake-up time, and he/she will start to understand the routine a bit more. This also helps you draw a distinct line between "night" and "day" for you and your child! Making this distinction very clear, and not having any grey area, will help you with this time change transition!

  • If your child is in a bed, if you have not already introduced a clock or another visual to signal nighttime versus morning time, now is a great time to bring it in. In fact, if you can start now, before the time change, this will help your child get used to the visual before the time change happens. There are lots of great products on the market, and even iPads have some helpful ones. This one is a favorite of my clients as well as my family (and it's eligible for same-day and prime 2-day shipping on Amazon). The same "Dramatic Wake Up" that I outlined above can be used for your child in a bed if you are getting a pre-6am wakeup call.

Step 4: Naps

If school-aged child is still taking a nap (if he/she is 3 or 4, naptime is still important for your child's overall sleep needs!) try to do everything you can to ensure that a solid nap happens this weekend, and next week.  Your child may feel this time change transition more than we do as adults, so it's important to make sure that you are honoring his/her sleep needs and providing opportunities to stay on track with those afternoon naps.  Also, if your child is 4 or 5 and has transitioned away from naps, try to set up a Quiet Time where they have an hour to themselves this weekend, and next week as well.  He/she may fall asleep during this time, which will help to get to that later bedtime.  I would limit the nap to an hour, and make sure it isn't too late in the day - after lunch in the mid-afternoon is great.  4pm might be too late, so try to arrange it so that it falls somewhere between 1pm and 3pm.

Step 5: Get Some Fresh Air!

While you ALL may be exhausted on Sunday and Monday especially, try to get outside - weather permitting - as much as possible, especially in the mornings after the official wake-up time.  This will help your child's internal clock to reset itself.

Step 6: Be Patient, Consistent, and Give it Time

You may need to spend the first week of the time change being extra vigilant about nap and bedtimes, cuddling a bit more during the day when your child is a bit tired and extra weepy, and tweaking your family's overall schedule a bit.  However, if you are patient and consistent with your routines, everything will fall into place, and you and your child will be back on track next week! 

If you need more specific help with your family's situation, please click the button to the right to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see how I can help!

Share this with your friends!