She Says… Spring Forward; Fall Back

Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend. Generally I don’t give the time change much thought. An extra hour of sleep? Score! Have to get up one hour earlier? No big deal. There’s no adjusting or confusion or stress, you know, except if I forget to set my watch and go to a meeting at the wrong time or something.

Last year when the “fall back an hour” time change happened, Owen was a little over 3 months old and we had just begun to establish a night time routine and solid bedtime. He was still waking up at night to eat, so an hour here or there really didn’t rock the boat at all. He didn’t even notice. But now that he is a toddler, things might be a bit different this time.

Owen has always been a great sleeper, but an early riser. This generally works fine for me, since I am a morning person too, but for a few months there the early rising was getting too early, even for me. Since Owen has adjusted to the 1 nap-a-day routine, we have squeezed out an extra 45 minutes of sleep or so in the morning which brings our normal wakeup time to around 6:15am/6:30am instead of 5:30am. Muuuuch better for me… and for him, honestly. He is much more chipper and giggly and bouncing off the walls with energy when he gets that last little bit of sleep in the morning compared to mornings when he gets up earlier.

This new schedule is all fine and dandy, except when you figure that we are about to shift the clocks back 1 hour and his 6:15 wakeup will now be 5:15am. And that’s a good day.

So we’ve taken this sage advice from the sleep specialists at one of my favorite parenting resources, Isis Parenting. We have already started preparing for the weekend’s time change. Starting last weekend we have been moving Owen’s bedtime later and later by a few minutes each night. Since he seems to wake up at the same time in the morning no matter when he went to bed (generally), this gradual approach will (hopefully!) help ease him into the new time, rather than just robbing him both of us of an hour of sleep for a few days while he adjusts.

When he wakes up in the morning now, we sit in the darkened room and play quietly or sing, trying to let his body know that it’s still time to be sleeping. The goal is to keep him in the darkened room until his “new wakeup time”. We’re shooting for 6am as the new wakeup time, so I’ve been doing my best to keep him dark and quiet until 7am. We haven’t quite made it yet, but we’re working on it. Similarly, we’re keeping the lights on and bright at night until just about “new” bedtime so we can stretch him a bit later each night.

Although it’s only a difference of 15-20 minutes in either direction, it really does seem to have an effect on our daily schedule. So I think this gradual approach is a good one for us right now. That said, I still could be waking up at 4am on Sunday morning — who knows!

Has the time change affected your kid(s) in the past? Do you do anything to counteract the change? Any tips for helping a toddler sleep later in the morning?

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10 responses to “She Says… Spring Forward; Fall Back

  1. Last winter, we never adjusted. The kid got up between 5 and 5:15am ALL WINTER. I tried everything and the only thing that worked was spring daylight savings time coming along, haha.

    Right now the lazy bones snoozes in her crib until 7am, so I’m actually ok if that switches to 6am. More time for breakfast to digest before running!

  2. I hadn’t thought about this and I may or may not be totally freaking out about it! haha

    Finger’s crossed that he adjusts in a short amount of time…..because I don’t want to get up too early.

  3. I have been suffering through early wake ups (5-5:30) with Cameron since at least June and there is no sign of much improvement in our house other than the occasional teasing “sleep-ins” to 6 a.m (VERY few!). I’ve tried pretty much everything and I’m starting to panic at the thought of starting our day at 4-4:30. And he truly is beat and cranky begging to go to sleep by 7p.m., so stretching that out later is usually not an option :-(. He’s still on 2 naps, so I have hopes that his transition to one nap might help?

    I’ve started being tougher at leaving him in his room until 6a.m. (I can totally live with 6 a.m. wake up and I never though I would EVER say that in my “previous life” lol), but being a working Mom waking up THAT early every day takes it’s toll. The thing that scares me is that it was the daylight savings time switch forward that saved us the first time because if I remember correctly he was waking up at 4:30 BEFORE the last time change.

    I think we’re screwed!

  4. I am 100% dreading this.
    That is all.

  5. Whether I attempted the gradual adjustment or not, I found that the day of the time change and the day after are just out of whack. Disproportionately so, given that it’s just that one hour, but it’s always kind of weird and cranky and just “off.” Less so now with the older kids, and this will be Ellie’s first real time change, so we’ll see. But previous years were funky.

  6. Totally dreading it. Hadn’t even really put much thought to it. Hopefully I’m not a walking zombie next week… Good for you for being proactive! I’ll be interested to hear if it helps.

  7. My older children, by the time they were three, aren’t allowed to get up until the alarm clock goes off because of the joy of time changes past! The slowly moving bedtime has worked for us with the little ones in the past with some success. I’m hoping our little fellow (23 months) agrees with it this year!

  8. I really hope your plan works Kate, ’cause let me tell you–since our time change last weekend (daylight savings time starts a week earlier in Ireland) we’ve been getting up crazy early. This morning (at 5:15), we just decided to go into Maeve, comfort her, but tell her it wasn’t time to get up and treated it like a middle of the night wake up. She was not happy, but after about 5 minutes of crying, she went back to sleep and woke at 7! So basically, any way you slice it, the time change is hard and after almost a week of way too early starts, we’ve decided tough love is the only way! Good luck to all!

  9. I was JUST wondering about this and how we will work it. With the time change in the spring, Maya was only 3 mths old and newly STTN. Now she’s 10 mths and consistently sleeping 7 PM-7 AM. Great idea on how to ease into this. We’ve also found the later she goes to bed, the earlier she rises. It will be interesting!!!

  10. A tiny part of me is worried that the time change will totally screw our schedules. Honestly, though… Eli (17 months) sleeps goes to bed around 7 and sleeps until around 8. I know, right? So, if he starts waking up at 7, it’s no big deal.

    We cold-turkeyed the time change in the spring. Put him to bed at the new 7:00. It only took him like 2 days to get used to it. We’ll see this time around! Best of luck!

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