If you are anything like me, pre-children, daylight savings time in the Fall, often referred to as “Fall Back”, was a day I welcomed with open arms. Yippee, I got to sleep for another full hour! Who wouldn’t welcome that. Post-children, I don’t quite have the same loving relationship with daylight savings anymore. No more extra hour of sleep for me. Instead of waking at 6:30am, my children tend to wake closer to 5:30am the morning of daylight savings. Boo, way to early for me. Whose idea was this anyway?
Since I am always searching out the “why”, those who know me well will agree with this statement, I will share an abbreviated history lesson on Daylight Saving Time (DST). The concept itself was first introduced by Benjamin Franklin (thanks Ben!) dating all the way back to 1784, in an attempt to make better use of natural daylight. However, DST, a way to “preserve daylight and provide standard time for the U.S.” was not formally adopted in the U.S. until 1918. Even after that time, DST went through stages of being repealed and re-instituted. Part of the issue was that each state could choose whether or not to play by the DST rules, creating all sorts of scheduling conflicts across industry. Because of this confusion, by 1966, Congress established the Uniform Time Act of 1966 creating a uniform DST within each time zone. DST began on the last Sunday in April and ended on the last Sunday in October. States no longer had the right to choose whether to play or not, they were required to.
Throughout the years, the DST schedule has changed a few times. In 2007, following the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it was amended to the present day DST schedule. Today, we “Spring Forward” on the second Sunday in March at 2am and “Fall Back” on the first Sunday in November at 2am.
Back to why this matters to you, as a parent, and what you can do to help your child fall back into their pre-daylight savings schedule. Here are three strategies you can try, depending on your preference and the age of your child:
1. If your child is younger and is likely more sensitive to the time change, in the days leading up to the time change, try adjusting your child’s bedtime LATER by 15 minute increments. By the time Saturday evening comes, you will have adjusted your child’s bedtime to be one hour later, so that when the clocks fall back the next morning, they are adjusted back to their normal bedtime (which was an hour before).
2. Put your child down at their NORMAL bedtime on Saturday night and naturally let their internal body clocks adjust over a period of a week or so. If you choose this method, the morning of the time change, you need to do your best to keep your child’s schedule as close as possible to new schedule, that is, the schedule that is now effectively one hour behind. If your child is napping, this means they might wake earlier in the morning and demand an earlier nap time than usual. Try not to let them nap any sooner than the new nap time! Even if that means putting them in the bath or taking them outside to stimulate them in the sunlight until nap time. If you have to put them down 15 minutes or so earlier than the “new” nap time, that’s OK. Just try to keep them on schedule for the rest of the day and don’t let them nap for too long either.
3. For older children, who may not be as sensitive to the time change, you can try putting them down on Saturday night one hour LATER than their usual bedtime. This is obviously, the less gradual approach. The next morning, they should naturally wake at the new, adjusted time, or closer to it.
Choose whichever method makes the most sense for you and your child. If you really want to know my favorite, I like option 2. It’s the least path of resistance, it’s always worked well for my kids, AND, most children adjust on their own within a week or so of the time change regardless of which method you choose. I think it’s better to focus your efforts on doing the best you can to align your child’s schedule the day of the time change with the new, adjusted time.
Happy “Fall Back” everyone! Don’t forget to set those clocks back at 2am on Sunday, November 2nd.