Spring Forward: Help your kids ease into their new schedule

Bonus post! I’ve been scheduling posts on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but forgot about the clock change that’s happening next weekend. I wanted to post off schedule to give people a week to think about how they’ll adjust and Spring forward!

Spring forward and lose an hour of sleep

spring forward and lose an hour of sleepSpring is a wonderful time with warmer weather, flowers blooming, and more daylight hours to play outside.

Most of the US will move our clocks forward on March 11th.

This simply means an hour of lost sleep, right?

Not at all.

Especially if you have kids.

Or worse: teens.

Even adults can suffer, as the heart attack and accident rates rise at this time of year.

There are some things we can do to help ease the transition though.

If you have early risers

If your little ones wake too early consistently, this is a great time of year! Instead of them waking at 6 am, they’ll wake at 7.

This is great if you want them to sleep an extra hour in the morning.

Most kids

If your kids are used to waking up at the “correct” time, you’ll have to re-train them to go to bed and wake up an hour later.

The good news is the change happens over the weekend, so plan on waking kids up Sunday at the same time you always wake them, even if you have a lazy Sunday planned. Get them up and moving!

If your clocks don’t automatically reset, set them before everyone goes to bed for the new time. They will be going to bed at the old time, but they should be aware that when they wake it will be the new time. It will look like they’re going to bed an hour late.

If they go to bed at their usual time, they will be short an hour of sleep. Some kids might benefit from a little longer nap due to this, but don’t let them sleep so long that they won’t fall asleep on time Sunday night.

Do your normal activities at their normal times on Sunday so that Sunday night they’ll be ready for bed at their regular bedtime in the new time.

Teens and other kids who have a hard time getting up

Make a plan

Talk about a plan for waking earlier by Monday morning to see what your teen (or older child) thinks will work best for him or her.

Try to not dictate what they want to do. That just won’t work.

A defiant kid will just not listen.

Some kids might get anxious about the change if you push it too much – and anxiety is one of the biggest triggers for insomnia.

No one wants to be tired, and even teens will admit they want more sleep.

It’s not their fault that they stay up late and want to sleep in. It’s built into their circadian rhythm.

Spring Forward Plan suggestions

Slowly back it up over days

Go to bed 10-20 minutes earlier for several nights before the switch and get up a little earlier than normal each day.

It’s important that they get up a little earlier because that helps them reset their internal clock, even if they couldn’t fall asleep earlier.

So if they normally wake at 6:30 for school, get them up at 6:10, then 5:50, then 5:30 over a few days, so they will be ready for 6:30 on Monday morning.

Wake early for the weekend

Wake up an hour early on Saturday the weekend the clock changes. Or 30 minutes earlier on Saturday and the other 30 minutes Sunday.

This might help them readjust to the new time over the weekend and be able to go to bed a little earlier Saturday and Sunday nights, which helps with Monday morning.

Practice meditation

Each day this week they can use a mindfulness app to practice mindfulness. Then when it comes time to sleep, they can get into their mindfulness place and relax.

Belly breathing

Try belly breathing at bedtime.

It’s a great way to relax.

Even if they don’t fall asleep, their body is resting if they’re laying still and focusing on their breathing.

Make it dark

Sunlight and artificial lights keep us up.

Turn off the screens and some of the lights in your home a little early Saturday to help everyone start to feel tired.

Use room darkening shades if the sun is still shining. (This can be important in the summer months when the sun is out until 9pm and kids need to go to bed earlier.)

More things to consider

Be vigilant

Be extra vigilant on the roads Monday morning, since studies show a higher rate of traffic accidents.

Battery changes

Each clock change it’s recommended to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Even if your alarms are hooked into your electric system, they need a battery backup in case the power goes out.

Not to mention they always seem to start beeping in the middle of the night if you don’t change them in time!

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By DrStuppy

I am a pediatrician and mother of two teens. I have a passion for sharing health related information.

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