Last time we turned back the clocks, we had a rough time in my household. My daughter was waking at 5:00am and it took me back to sleepless nights when I had a newborn. I would drag myself out to the living room to "play" with her (lay down on the couch in misery), and the house was a complete disaster for over a week. How can we do it better this time around?
A Tahoe Mom
Dear Tahoe Mom,
Thank you for writing. Losing an hour or gaining an hour to adults is a small shift in our schedules. To a baby or toddler, this can be very disruptive. Think back to last fall when it was not so smooth. Now we are springing forward. Here are some tips for making the transition the best it can be:
1. START PREPARING NOW. Babies and toddlers are often resistant to change. Sometimes different behaviors pop up when we introduce a schedule change. Prepare yourself mentally for this and find some kind of mantra like, "We need time to transition" or "This disruption will pass soon". When a child is showing irregular behavior like tantrums, screaming, crying, etc., it is a signal for us adults to provide calm guidance. When we are calm, it does a couple of things for your child. It models being grounded even though she is in an emotional storm. She will be comforted to know that you are beside her, not freaking out yourself! Also, she will find a way to get through her behavior by first reacting emotionally and then moving through the problem, which allows her to practice self-regulation.
2. CHANGE ONE OF YOUR HOUSE CLOCKS NOW. As parents, we know the advantages of planning ahead. Changing one clock to the upcoming time will help you shift your daughter's eating and sleeping schedule. You can't expect her digestive system to all of a sudden realize that lunch is at a different time. The goal is to slowly change over to the new time.
3. FOLLOW YOUR CHILD'S LEAD. Does your child need a dark room to sleep? Will it all of a sudden take twice as long to get out the door? Children crave consistency and routines, and these things will be a little off with different daylight and schedules. If your daughter is struggling, turn it into a bonding moment. These are the foundational years, when trust is built. Trust your daughter to let you know when she needs more support. And be ready to give it to her.
4. TALK TO YOUR CHILD. Verbalize what changes you notice, and think about what your child might be noticing even though she cannot tell you. "It is still really light outside because of the time change. I still want you to take a nap so you can get your rest." Also, "I see that you are crying. Are you sad that you don't get to play?" Or, "Things have been a tough for you lately. Sometimes you aren't hungry during lunch time and you want to eat later. We can get through this together." Acknowledge what she is going through so she knows you're on her side. These talks with your child can also be affirmations for you. You can get through this, Tahoe Mom!
5. DON'T OVER DO IT. We can sometimes be guilty of putting a lot of activities or errands in our days. Try to schedule appointments and new events for another week. Buffer more time before nap and bedtime so you can transition with the communication and explanations your child might need. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust, and don't forget your own self-care is a must.
Daylight savings in California begins at 2:00am on Sunday, March 12th. It ends at 2:00am on Sunday, November 5th. Enjoy the extra daylight and good luck with your transition!
Your parenting partner,