Red and Smalls are not great sleepers. For a start, they are ridiculously early risers, despite a reasonably late bedtime. And whenever someone is sick, sleep tails off, with lots of night wakings, even earlier starts, and grumpy, sleepy boys (never mind their parents!). Just this week, I noticed that Red has been sleeping in until close to 7am, and I was delighted; until I remembered that the clocks were about to change, and we would Fall Back, and that would become 5 something again before we knew it. Ugh!
And then I remembered that being outdoors is our friend at a time like this! Here are my tips, based on nearly 6 years of living with kids who are pretty much allergic to sleep.
1. Get on track with your morning routine.
If you have early risers, like we do, make sure the week before the time change that your morning routine surrounding wake up is set the way you want it. We had been considering using the OK to wake alarm clock with Smalls for a while. This is a clock that lights up at a time set by you, indicating to the kid that they can get out of bed and is great for kids that can’t read the time yet. Smalls’ wake up time is all over the place, from 5.15 to 6.30, and he is definitely old enough now to lie in bed for a while if he wakes early. He’s ready to start learning a routine.
Once I realized the clocks were changing soon, I knew it was time to find it from the bags of Red’s old clothes and start using it. We set his wake up time as 6am (gulp!) as that is his most normal time, and the earliest my husband or I can face the day! After a week of using it, he has started to understand that he needs to wait for the light to come on and we’ve had almost no 5 something starts. As we start to change our clocks to Fall Back, we’ll probably change it in 15 minute increments rather than pushing the whole hour the first day.
Red understands that he can’t get up until the time on his clock starts with a 6. To make it easier on him, we’ll probably ‘adjust’ the time on the clock by a half hour to begin with, just so he isn’t left lying in bed for an hour if he wakes at his regular time.
2. Start delaying bed time on the Friday night.
It is often said that it takes about a week for the effects of the clock change to reset properly for kids, and I can definitely attest to that being the case in our house! Especially now that Red is at school, I’m keen to keep him from being overtired, and so using a full weekend is a great way to get the worst of it over before Monday morning routines kick in. We often keep the boys up a little later on a Friday night anyway, so this tactic is much easier to implement when Daylight Savings ends in November than when the clock springs forward.
3. Change your clocks on Saturday morning (after you get up if it helps!)
Unless you have miraculous children, chances are it will take a few days to a week for the transition to the time change. I find that as we follow the clock less at the weekend anyway, changing all the clocks in our house on the Saturday morning really helps solidify the change to bedtime we made the night before. If you don’t want to stare at the ugly reality of your early risers first thing, wait until after breakfast to do this. I do!
4. Get outside as late in the day as you can!
Being outside in the afternoon is easy! If possible, it’s great to make the most of the daylight after dinner too. This is a harder one for me at the weekend, because we often have friends over visiting, or we are out eating at a restaurant, but especially on the Saturday I work hard to plan an outside activity just before bedtime. Even a quick walk/bike in the neighborhood can do the job.
This is also a great activity to stall bedtime if your kids still got up at their regular time in the morning. By this point they will be tired and cranky and ready for bed. But if you let them go to bed too early, it’s just delaying the inevitable transition. Tomorrow morning the clocks will have fallen back for real and you will get to witness the possibly ugly reality of how well your kids are doing with the time change. So do your best now to solidify the later bed time. A good burst of sunshine in the late afternoon will help with delaying melatonin production, which should help stave off sleepiness. And a decent amount of physical exercise and outdoor stimulation should help tire their body and settle them into a good sleep for the night.
5. Keep your fingers crossed and grin and bear it!
I’m only half joking with this one! It is hard to adjust to the new time, and you will all likely become tired and grumpy over the week as the kids adjust – I know we will! Just remember that by next weekend you will be solidly into the time change, and if you aren’t, this will be the opportunity for longer naps and confirmation of the later bedtime. It also provides opportunities for parents to nap if they are struggling too!
Do you have any tips or tricks? I’d love for you to leave them in the comments below. And to those other parents of early risers, see you on the other side!