Whether you're one of those parents who has been dreading the shift from Daylight Savings Time for weeks or you're the type who has completely forgotten when it's supposed to happen, take note: The witching hour is this weekend.
Daylight Savings 2011 ends on Sunday, November 6. At 2 a.m., you move your clock back one hour.
For a lot of parents, those semi-annual clock shifts can be brutal. It can take a while for kids' natural circadian rhythms to adjust. That means that if you have a kid who normally wakes up, say, around 6:30 a.m., now you have a kid who might be yanking at your sleeve and rousing you from your pillow at 5:30 a.m. Ugh. Plus, at the other end of the day, kids may be exhausted -- and ill behaved -- because their normal bedtime feels an hour later to them. Double ugh.
What can you do to alleviate some of the time change's effects on your kids? Ashley Grimaldo, who blogs about money and offers advice for frugal-minded parents, has shared a few tips:
1. Push back bedtime bit by bit: "If you have a baby or toddler, I recommend pushing bedtime back by 10 or 15 minutes for a few nights," Grimaldo advises. "This will take some discipline, but establishing a solid bedtime routine and sticking to it is not only important for your sanity, but for your child's health, too."
2. Adjust expectations: Sleep deprivation affects mood, so don't be surprised if your kids are seriously irritable for a few weeks. Younger, preverbal kids might be especially cranky. "Just brace yourselves and prepare to expect some rocky terrain," Grimaldo says.
3. Make a sleep a priority: "Kids do really well when they have time to hone one skill or hurdle at a time," Grimaldo notes. "If you're potty training, pull back on the reins for a while to let the lack of sleep pass."
4. Control the light: Grimaldo recommends installing room-darkening shades or curtains in kids' rooms to help them sleep. "Kids sense morning like sharks smell blood," she says. "The tiniest crack of daylight can wake even the hardest young sleeper."
5. Be consistent: "Stick to later naps and a later bedtime to avoid prolonged pain," Grimaldo says, adding that parents should also adhere to a reliable bedtime routine every night.
6. Cut down artificial light: "There's solid evidence that exposure to artificial light limits the production of melatonin, a key hormone in regulating the sleep/wake cycle," Grimaldo notes. "This goes for TV too. Cut the pre-bedtime cartoons and opt for relaxing, sleep-friendly activities like reading or puzzles."
Are you dreading the effects of the time change on your kids?
Image via Dave Stokes/Flickr