I think we can all agree that this winter has felt so much longer than any other winter! It’s been a long year and as lockdown restrictions start to lift, we are all looking forward to brighter days, warmer weather and meeting up with family and friends. But for parents with young children, the end of winter also means the dreaded clock change – the one that sentences us to earlier mornings and sadly, you can forget about an extra hour’s sleep! However, do not fear, we have put together our top tips to help the change go smoothly.
For parents with babies, start adjusting their whole routine this week and moving meal and nap times backwards by ten minutes each day so you are moving backwards to come forwards. By this Saturday when the clocks change, they should be going to bed an hour earlier than they normally would.
On Sunday morning, start the day at the usual time and everything should slot back into place. If you child does wake early (before 6am) try to let them settle or if they are content, leave them until you are ready to get up and start the day. Try to keep feed and nap times at the right times and not shift them back to compensate for an earlier start. By adjusting the whole routine include meal and feed times, it will help their internal body clocks to adjust.
Toddlers and older children are more able to cope with the change and you don’t need to do very much in advance. Next weekend, make sure they have plenty of fresh air and run around in the mornings as this helps with our melatonin release. Natural light is a big driver of our body clocks and it will help them adjust. You can either move the daily routine by 15 minutes for all meals and naps so that they aim to go to bed at least half an hour earlier than they normally would or wait for them to adapt naturally.
For those families who use a sleep training clock, move it back by half an hour initially so you are ensuring your child has success by not having to wait such a long time and as parents, you are continuing to maintain a boundary with the start of their days.
Remember that we all sleep best in a mostly dark room and with more natural light in the mornings over the summer months, black out blinds can help with early wakings. With warmer nights ahead of us, we will be more likely to leave bedroom windows open overnight. Whilst an increase in environmental noise can feel daunting, our children should be able to sleep through mild traffic and birdsong. Creating a silent environment can be problematic as it would be harder to replicate if you stayed somewhere else.
In the same way as recovering from jet lag, it will probably take your children a few days to adjust but by keeping to the timings of your normal daytime routine and ensuring bedtime is at the usual time, it really will all settle down again within a few days. For those of you who are already having broken nights, this can feel like a big disruption, especially after a collectively tiring year. If you have tried to get your little ones sleeping back on track and are having no luck, please do get in touch and let’s work through a manageable plan together. A good night’s sleep really is the best scenario for any family.