Guardian Childcare & Education

4 Tips for Helping Children Adjust to Daylight Saving

25th September 2017

It’s here! Spring has sprung and summer is almost upon us! The good news is that you no longer have to wash thick woollen jumpers and wait for days for them to dry. The bad news is that daylight saving often brings with it a host of sleep problems as little ones struggle to adjust.

If you’ve got your children on a tight schedule so that everyone can get out the door in the mornings, daylight saving can mean some rather ugly tantrums as you struggle to wake, dress, and feed everyone an hour earlier than their bodies are accustomed. What’s more, that loss of sleep can be even tougher on your children come six o’clock.

Although it can take a week or two for your child to properly adjust to the shift in time, there are things you can do to reduce the impact of daylight saving on your child’s body clock and precious sleep time.

Introduce the Change Gradually

Although you’re not changing the clock itself, adjusting things like bedtime and mealtime by a small amount (say 10-15 minutes) each day for a week can reduce the overall impact of the disruption on your child. Rather than having a baby or toddler who suddenly has a deficit of a whole hour, the change is more gradual and easier for little minds to cope with.

Maintain Your Routine and Sleep Associations

With the exception of adjusting the time gradually, it’s more important than ever to stick to a routine as your child transitions. Children look for markers to tell them what’s coming next, for example bath before bed, morning playgroup followed by lunch and nap etc. Although it might be tempting to take advantage of the extra daylight to get out as a family, at least for the few weeks try to keep everyone calm and consistent to help little bodies adjust.

Minimise Light

It can be tough to convince your child to go to bed when it’s still light outside, which is where a good set of blackout blinds is handy. Aussie summers often mean daylight sticks around until eight or nine o’clock at night, so keeping your children quiet, dimming the indoor lights and closing as many blinds as possible around bedtime will help their bodies begin shutting down for the day. The same goes for television and computer games – all should be switched off 30 minutes before bed to give over stimulated brains a chance to relax.

Sadly, daylight saving doesn’t always mean another hour in bed for you in the morning. In fact, some children still wake up far too early. Make sure to keep the blinds shut and lights off while you gently remind them that it’s not time to wake just yet. When it is time to get up, try to make a bit of song and dance of it by dramatically opening blinds, exclaiming things like “Good morning!” and “What a wonderful day it’s going to be!”

Be Patient

Like all of us, children can be grumpy and sluggish for the first week of daylight saving. Unlike adults, children are less likely to yawn, grumble and get on with it. It’s important to be realistic and understand that there might be a higher chance of tantrums and meltdowns as they struggle with sleep deficits and a shift in their regular schedule. Think about how grumpy you are when someone takes away an hour of your sleep then imagine how your little ones, with their inability to really understand what has changed and why, might feel.

Looking for more tips and advice? Check out some helpful articles here.

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