By Monica K. Gutherie
Time changes can be a daunting to new parents (and to some seasoned veterans). But it doesn’t need to be. Parents, grandparents, strangers, the internet are full of ideas on how to prepare your children for it. Here are a few popular ones:
- Adjust sleep times
The most popular suggestion is to adjust the sleep time for children progressively over the week. You just adjust the time 15 minutes (either 15 minutes forward for spring or back for fall). So if your child goes to sleep at 8, then for the fall time change you’d put them to bed at 7:45 for a few days, and then 7:30 for a few days, and then 7:15 and then 7 when daylight saving time rolls around. Just be prepared to wake up that much earlier for the week as well.
- Get dark curtains
If it’s dark in my son’s room when he wakes up, he just assumes it’s still night time. He might wake up, but mentally he thinks it is still “sleep time.” Even now I can convince him sometimes to “sleep” an extra 30 minutes if it’s really cloudy (and dark) in the morning. Having dark curtains will help create the same illusion that it’s night time even when the sun is shining.
- Exhaust them
I use this all the time – not just for daylight saving time. We get our children with the neighbors’ children or coworkers’ children and let them play and scream and chase each other (outside if we can help it). We let them run themselves tired.
*Sometimes I even give them something sugary (candy, popsicles, hot chocolate) just to get that little sugar high. It’s brilliant. Then when they start to come off the sugar high, then it’s time for a warm bath, some teeth brushing and then – bam! Time for bed! A few stories and lullabies later, they’re ready to sleep and, with any luck, they’ll stay asleep for a good 12 hours.
*Don’t send me mean emails or letters, I don’t give my child sugary things every day, or every week or month. Just on special occasions. A little sugar every now and then is a good thing.
- Just do it
This was what my mother told me when I asked her what she did to help my sister and I adjust to the time change when we were children. Now it is my tactic. Other parents may not agree or be able to but in my family we “just did it.” When daylight saving came, we adjusted our children’s time the way we did as adults. In the spring they went to bed an hour earlier (with some complaints – mostly from our 2-year-old) and in the fall they go to bed an hour later (with cheers!). It meant that for about a week our youngest son would wake up at inconvenient time, but he figured it out. Kids are pretty resilient and sometimes you have to “just do it.”
- Stick with it and be patient
As with all things, do what works for you. These are just suggestions. Your child and your parenting style will help you determine the best method to adjust to the change in time. Some children just get it and can adjust like a champ. Others are going to drag it out – especially those that like to play outside and can’t understand why you want them to come inside when it’s still sunny outside. Young ones may cry when it’s time to sleep (or wake up). It may take a little while, but don’t worry, it’s not forever. If all else fails, you can always move to Hawaii or some parts of Arizona and Indiana – states that don’t observe daylight saving time. Good luck and sleep well!
Monica K. Guthrie is an Army brat, an Army veteran (Rock of the Marne!) and now an Army spouse with two boys. She is currently the media relations officer for the public affairs office at Fort Sill, Okla., and writes a weekly column called the Okie Bucket List. She also has a photography and graphic design business, Pro Deo Creations, that she maintains between potty training and kissing scraped knees.