This weekend, clocks around the county will "fall back," by one hour, marking the end of daylight saving time and the beginning of screwed-up sleep for kids around the nation. My kids are a little better at this now that they are older, but I can distinctly rememeber struggling with time change when my girls were toddlers. If you've got kids who rise and sleep by the clock, here are some tips from penny-pinching blogger Ashley Grimaldo, on easing the adjustment:
1. Extend bedtime a little later each night.
Folks who prefer to rip the Band-Aid off may just push through a few tough days and move bedtime forward a full hour immediately. Older children can handle a change like that a bit easier. But if you you have a baby or toddler, I recommend pushing bedtime back by 10 or 15 minutes for a few nights. This will take some discipline, but establishing a solid bedtime routine and sticking to it is not only important for your sanity, but for your child's health, too.
2. Expect grumpy toddlers for as long as 3 weeks.
Again, the younger the child, the longer it will take to adjust. According to multiple studies, poor or inadequate sleep causes irritability, stress and anxiety. No big surprise there. Pile on top of that an inability to verbally communicate and you've got a cranky young child on your hands for days, if not weeks. Just brace yourselves and prepare to expect some rocky terrain.
3. Reduce other variables to focus on sleep.
Kids do really well when they have time to hone in on one skill or hurdle at a time. If you're potty training, pull back on the reins for a while to let the lack of sleep pass. Trying to concentrate while sleep deprived makes you ineffective and irritable — and the same goes for Junior.
4. Get room-darkening shades or curtains.
Kids sense morning like sharks smell blood; the tiniest crack of daylight can wake even the hardest young sleeper. Keeping it dark in your child's room will encourage more sleep in the morning, something you'll want all year round. If you're not a fan of drapes, grab online coupons for custom blinds from sites like CouponSherpa, and outfit your windows with tailored dressings on the cheap.
5. Consistency is key.
It's tempting to give in to Little Darling when she pitches a fit for candy at the grocery store. If you give in to her demands, she'll just ratchet up the decibels on your next visit. That same principle applies to adjusting your clocks back. Stick to later naps and a later bedtime to avoid prolonged pain.
6. Watch the TV watching.
There's solid evidence that exposure to artificial light limits the production of melatonin, a key hormone in regulating the sleep/wake cycle. This goes for TV too. Cut the pre-bedtime cartoons and opt for relaxing, sleep-friendly activities like reading or puzzles.
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