Daylight Savings Time Is Back to Mess Up Your Kid's Schedule

baby cryingIf you're like me, you can never really remember when Daylight Savings Time begins or ends, or whether you're supposed to move the clock forward or backward, or exactly what time the official switch happens and we're supposed to start fiddling with our clocks. So let me just help us all out here: Daylight Savings 2011 ends on Sunday, November 6: At 2 a.m., you move your clock back one hour. (Fall back; spring forward.)

While those people without kids are gearing up for an extra hour out on the town or an extra hour of sleep or whatever those people without kids do, we parents are steeling ourselves for a period of time in which our kids' schedules are totally disrupted. Because although we grownups can will ourselves into adjusting to the new regime pretty quickly, our kids may be slower to internalize the switch.

How will we survive? And, oh yeah, how can we help them adjust?


In fact, child-sleep experts say it can take between 7 and 10 days for a kid to adjust when Daylight Savings Time kicks in or comes to its annual abrupt halt: It can throw off kids' sleep and appetite and can make them cranky, ill-behaved terrors. Which can make their parents cranky, ill-behaved terrors. (You know what I'm talking about.)

Some experts advocate beginning to shift your child's schedule gradually, a few days before the change. So if she usually goes down for a nap at noon, put her down a few minutes earlier each day for a few days before the scheduled clock shift. Then, when the shift back happens, it will be a bit easier.

I personally have always taken a hard-line approach, much the way I do when I travel to a different time zone. (I change my watch on the airplane and try not to do the local time/my time calculation in my head, but rather to live in the local-time moment from the second I get off the plane.)

That means if my kids go to bed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 5, before the clocks change, they go to bed at 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 6, after they change. It may take them a bit longer to fall asleep after they've been tucked in that first night. But eventually, they'll get with the program, just like the rest of us.

Do you dread the weekends that Daylight Savings Time kicks on and off, now that you have kids? What methods have you found to help your kids adjust?


Image via bbaunach/Flickr

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