Dear People Without Children,

Please don’t brag about your extra hour of sleep as we “fall back” this weekend. I know to you the end of daylight-saving time is synonymous with sleeping in an extra hour, but for those of us with with little kids, it is nothing of the sort.

Babies and toddlers have no concept of daylight-saving time, and they’ll wake up Sunday morning at the same time they always do. For many parents, that’s a 4 or 5am wakeup call instead of 5 or 6am.25367043456_ac67994250_b

And the next challenge is keeping kids up until their normal bedtime. That last hour or two of the night can be brutal when the whole family is sleep deprived and cranky. But, as parents, we try our best to keep our kids up an hour later than their normal bedtime so they can adjust to their normal schedule for the next four months. Then we’ll “spring ahead” and go through the sleep adjustment all over again.

Parents- there is a better way, but it takes a little prep work. Start a few days ahead of the time change by moving bedtime ten or 15 minutes later to ease the family into the transition. Not enough time before Saturday night? No problem. You can continue the process after we turn back the clocks.

Stick with your normal bedtime routine. If you don’t have one, this is a great time to start one. Incorporate bathtime, pjs, brushing teeth and a quiet activity like reading a book. Try to avoid exercise and stimulating activities for three hours before bedtime.

If you’re really struggling, consider your family’s sleep habits as a whole. It’s different for each child, but most kids under the age of five need 11-14 hours of sleep, including naps. If you have to wake your kids up every morning or they still wake up tired, they are probably not getting enough sleep. If the afternoons are difficult or they struggle to stay awake, those are also signs they should still be taking naps.

Bottom line – this can be a tough time for the whole family. Our internal clocks are strong and difficult to reset. Like most challenges parents face, just be patient. It generally takes a week or so after the clocks have changed for everyone to adjust – no matter their age. And remember, we’re all in this together!

Sincerely,

Mom of an Early Riser

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Author: minivancommuter

Alise McGregor is a working mom with two girls. As the founder of Little Newtons, she's passionate about making education the primary focus of child care.

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