Oh, Daylight Saving Time. Setting your clock ahead by an hour can throw off adults who understand the time change, so imagine how losing an hour feels to kids. Even when you “gain” an hour back in the fall, the time shift can leave kids confused and cranky. While you can’t always avoid a small adjustment period, there are some strategies you can try out to make the time change easier on your kids — and on yourself. Crème de la Crème put together this guide of tips to try the next time you have to reset the clocks.
Daylight Saving Time: A Brief History
Daylight Saving Time is a seasonal time change. You know it already if you’ve heard the phrase, “Spring forward, Fall back.” All in all, Daylight Saving Time involves setting the clocks ahead of standard time (typically by one hour) for part of the year. Daylight Saving Time means the sun will rise and set later in terms of the time on your clock.
In 1916, Germany and Austria became the first countries to use Daylight Saving Time — but a small town in Canada, today’s Thunder Bay, actually started the first Daylight Saving Time period in the world on July 1, 1908. About 40% of the world’s countries use Daylight Saving Time today in order to conserve energy and make better use of daylight hours.
When Daylight Saving Time rolls around, you’ll set your clock ahead by one hour. The result? Mornings with less sunlight, but evenings with more sunlight. Daylight Saving Time begins in the United States on the second Sunday in March. It ends on the first Sunday in November when everyone sets their clocks back an hour. You’ll always adjust your clock to 2 a.m. local time, whether you’re springing ahead of falling back.
However, not all areas in the United States use Daylight Saving Time. The state of Arizona has not observed Daylight Saving Time since 1968, though the Navajo Indian Reservation (located in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico) does. The state of Hawaii has never observed Daylight Saving Time, as it opted out under the Uniform Time Act.
Tips for Dealing With the Time Change
No matter if you’re setting your clock an hour ahead in March or an hour back in November, the time change can wreak havoc on your internal clock. Throw kiddos into the mix and the Daylight Saving change can feel like a recipe for disaster. Cranky kids while dealing with your own grogginess is enough to make anyone wish Daylight Saving Time didn’t exist.
Fortunately, you’ll find various strategies to help reset your whole family’s internal schedules so the approach of a time change doesn’t totally throw you off your game. Here’s how to prevent issues with sleep schedules and combat those cloudy-headed issues in the morning.
Regulate the Lights
Melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the body’s internal circadian clock, increases as darkness falls in the evening and shuts down when it becomes light out. Increased melatonin levels can help induce sleep, while the shut-down period leads to wakefulness.
Daylight Saving Time changes throw off that natural cycle. The shift can be especially disconcerting for kids, who don’t want to go to bed while it’s light out or get up when it’s dark out. To help kids adjust to the change, try dimming the lights in your kids’ bedrooms and turn off electronics about a half-hour to an hour before it’s time for bed.
Then, in the morning, let your kids get as much light as they can. If weather allows, take your child along while walking the dog or even eat breakfast outside. Natural sunlight is best, but if it isn’t an option, turning lights on around the house to brighten your surroundings goes a long way.
Make Small Adjustments Before the Time Change
Though this won’t work for every kid, you might try making slight adjustments a few nights in advance of the time change. That could look like keeping a toddler up 15 minutes later one night, then 30 minutes later the next, so they’re halfway to the hour shift.
Keep in mind that this strategy may backfire if your younger child tends to get overtired. Take your child’s unique sleep schedule into consideration to decide if you’ll try this.
Stick With a Consistent Schedule After the Time Change
Once the time change occurs, help your kids adjust and sleep better by sticking with a consistent schedule. This includes:
- Making sure kids get enough exercise during the day so they’re tired in the evening.
- Establishing and maintaining a short, consistent bedtime routine.
- Rewarding kids in the morning when they sleep all night in their rooms.
Sticking with a bedtime routine is especially key as kids are easily thrown by a change in schedule. A bedtime routine creates a powerful signal for sleep. You might try reading your child a book or giving them a bath before bed, then snuggling a bit together before it’s time to turn off the lights.
Expect A Longer Transition
A change in routine can take around a week for kids to embrace — and that’s if you can stay consistent. Prepare yourself for a period of adjustment. Pro-tip: Don’t fill the Sunday of the time change with tons of busy plans.
Kids can have a shorter fuse and feel all-around cranky after the time change, despite your best efforts. Set yourself up for success by planning a relaxing day at home if possible instead of packing your Sunday chock full of activities. A lazy Sunday gives your kids a day to better acclimate before they have to go back to school on Monday. We hope these tips from Crème de la Crème help you approach the next Daylight Saving Time change with a few strategies to ease the transition. Do you have a tried-and-true tip that works for your kids? If you do, drop us a line! We’d love to share more advice with other families looking for ways to make the Daylight Saving Time change easier.