There was a time in my life when I celebrated the end of daylight savings.
Not because I was happy it meant cold and flu season and winter weight gain would soon be taking over my life, but because I loved the idea of having an extra hour added to my weekend, and I was always amazed at how much MORE stuff I got done on the day we changed the clocks back.
But then I became a parent and life as I knew it completely changed.
Now please don’t get me wrong.
I love being a mom.
And now that my daughter is in full-day school, daylight savings doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it did during that first sleep-deprived year of motherhood when I was hanging onto my sanity for dear life.
But it isn’t something I necessarily look forward to each year, and since I know there are a lot of new moms and dads out there who are looking for tips to help them survive daylight savings, I decided to share some of my secrets which saved my life during my first few years as a mom.
1. PLAN AHEAD
My daughter was only 7-months-old the first time we had to deal with daylight savings as parents, and since we still hadn’t recovered from the dreaded 4-month sleep regression by that point, and were just trying to survive on what little sleep we were getting each night (spoiler alert: it wasn’t much), there was nothing we could do to prepare for it. But ever since that exhausting period of our lives, I make sure to set a reminder on my phone a month BEFORE daylight savings each year (both in the fall and in the spring) so I have ample time to start adjusting my daughter’s sleep schedule to ensure we never have to wake up at 4 am every day for the rest of our lives.
2. ADJUST SLEEP SCHEDULES GRADUALLY
Up until my daughter’s second birthday, she was very sensitive to changes in her sleep schedule, and the notion of putting her to bed an hour later than normal was NOT an option. So I always took a more gradual approach. I’d push her naptime and bedtime routines forward by 10 minutes for 5 days, and then by another 10 minutes for 5 days, and I would keep it up until we reached our desired naptime and bedtimes. Of course, this meant she was going to bed later (and waking up later) than usual for a few weeks as we approached daylight savings, but it was totally worth it as it made the switch a lot less painful for everyone in the long run. And guess what? She’s no longer sensitive to sleep changes, so now I just need to push her bedtime in 30-minute increments over the course of a couple of weeks before we change the clocks and we’re golden!
3. KEEP KIDS IN THEIR CRIBS/BEDS UNTIL IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP
Any time I make changes to my daughter’s sleep schedule, we go through a week of adjustment while she settles into her new routine. Sometimes it takes her longer to fall asleep at night, but more often than not, it results in an earlier wake up time. To cope with this disruption in our routine, I try to get up 30 minutes earlier than normal to ensure I’m not scrambling should my daughter demand blueberry waffles before I’ve had my morning coffee, but I try my hardest not to allow her to get out of bed (which isn’t as easy now that she’s not in a crib!) until the time I want her to wake up each morning. For us, the minimum sleep my daughter can function on is 10 hours. Of course, I prefer 11 hours because she doesn’t nap and is VERY active, but I know that is not going to happen during schedule transitions, so I compromise on 10 hours during that time.
If you’re not sure how much sleep your child needs, this is a great resource.
4. ALLOW FOR TRANSITION DAYS
While I’m all about consistency, it’s important to remember that kids human beings like you and me, and they are going to have ‘off’ days. So if my daughter is really exhausted or not feeling well, and simply cannot hold out another 30-60 minutes before bedtime, I try to go with the flow with the promise of getting back on track the following night. I figure a day or two isn’t going to break things, you know?
5. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
I recently had the chance to enjoy a girls’ night out with some of my mom friends, and one of my gal pals spent most of the night knocking back jagger bombs while simultaneously complaining about how early her son wakes up each morning. Naturally, this made the rest of us grab for the jagger, and resulted in a flurry of conversation filled with our best tips to help save her sanity. I can’t remember everything we discussed, but I did make a note of the best tricks everyone shared so I wouldn’t forget to tell you about them.
Opt for an earlier bedtime. Early wake ups are often a sign of over-tiredness, and my daughter is living proof that an earlier bedtime during sleep transitions, illnesses, or really busy periods of our lives is often all it takes to reset her clock and get her back to sleeping 11-12 hours per night.
Fill up empty tummies. If your child is waking up early because she’s hungry, why not give her a light snack before bedtime? And if you’re still breastfeeding, don’t be afraid to give dream feeding a try.
Buy a sound machine. My daughter was a very sensitive sleeper when she was a baby, and our HoMedics Sound Machine was especially helpful during sleep transition phases when she was sleeping lighter in the early morning hours. Just make sure you don’t turn it TOO high so you don’t hurt your little one’s ears.
Invest in a Gro-clock. The Gro-clock is a GREAT tool for older kids as it’s a fun way to teach them when they are ‘allowed’ to get out of bed. We’re fortunate enough not to have had to use ours YET, but it was a slipper slope when my daughter transitioned to a big girl bed and could no longer use her Angle Care Monitor as a tool to keep her from getting out of bed! :)
Hire a sleep coach. If all else fails, and your and your family are really struggling to get a good night of sleep, I highly recommend hiring a sleep coach. I waited until my daughter was 11-months-old to hire our sleep coach, and my biggest regret was that I didn’t do it sooner because it literally changed our lives. I did a ton of research (and even fired the first company I hired) before finding The Baby Sleep Site, and from the first email I received from Nicole Johnson, I knew I was in good hands. She has helped me through a couple of other set-backs since providing me with my first personalized sleep plan (CLICK HERE to find out how to get yours!), including nap transitions and night time anxiety, and I simply cannot say enough good things about her.
Daylight savings can be tricky, especially when you’re a new parent, but these tips should help you and yours find your way back to a good night of sleep!
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