Toddler Parent’s Guide To Surviving the Time Change: Spring 2021
The thought of losing an hour this weekend when we “Spring Forward” always brings some mixed emotions. On one hand the sun stays out later and it feels like summer is coming. But, on the other hand, we’re losing an hour overnight and you’re worried that it’s going to throw your kids’ sleep schedules out of whack. Well, don’t worry. With a little planning ahead we can avoid sleep disruptions and focus on warm thoughts of summer fun. This time change is usually less disruptive to sleep schedules than the Fall Time Change.
Strategy: Gradual Adjustment– Since this time of year we “Spring Forward,” we need to anticipate it by “Hopping Back” in the days leading up to the change. For kids 2 to 5 years old, I recommend starting this process 3 days before the time change and making adjustments in 20-minute increments. This means moving bedtime (and naptime) earlier by 20 minutes per day. For kids over age 5, I recommend starting just 2 day before and making the change in 30-minute increments.
The chart below shows an example of gradually adjusting bedtime. The example assumes 7:00 is the normal bedtime.
Be Realistic – The younger the child, the more difficult the time change can be for them. Once your child is over 3 years old and has well-established good sleep habits, they are able to tolerate the change more easily. Having a solid foundation of good sleep habits is the key to breezing through the time changes easily. Once your child’s body builds up that muscle memory - that need for sleep - sleep schedules aren’t as fragile and can’t be thrown off as easily. If you need help with this, check out my online course for kids over age 2.5.
Stick to the Clock – Once the time changes on Sunday, try to stick as close to the “old” schedule as possible. If your child typically gets up for the day at 6:30 am, don’t let them start the day earlier once the time changes. If normal bedtime is 7:00pm, it should be 7:00pm on Sunday night. Don’t let your child stay up later just because the clock is different.
Be Patient - Be patient, it will take everyone a few days for their bodies to fully adjust. So, stick with the plan for gradual adjustment leading up to the change and then stick with the clock after and it will happen.