Q&A: !@#$%ing daylight savings time again

So I'm trying to be proactive about switching time instead of talking about it after the fact. We switch to DST next Sunday (and by "we" I mean the USA, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and lots of Europe, and probably some places I missed), and all the normal stuff is going to apply. We miss an hour of sleep ("spring forward") and you're going to have to try to decide how to deal with whatever havoc that wreaks on your kids' schedule. But here's a new twist I haven't heard, from Ann (from Seattle, if any of you from the Seattle meetup remember her):

"So, I just realized that Daylight Savings starts next Sunday, and thisis the first time that we know in advance that it'll affect my son's
sleep (last time sort of sneaked up on us). Could you do a post this
week on how to manage the time change, for those of us who are
relatively new at it? Last time it TOTALLY SUCKED.

he is a not-terribly-scheduled toddler — his nap- and bed- times
aren't so much clock-based as dependent on when he woke up last. He's
still on 2 naps/day, usually, and he's awake for 3-4 hours between
naps/bedtime. So that makes it hard to put him down 10 minutes early
every day for a week, etc. Any ideas?

To make matters even worse, he turned 18 months a couple of weeks ago. So, lots of awesome sleep stuff going on here."

Well, because I have one guiding principle in life ("there's always another way"), I immediately started thinking about how Ann and her husband could bang their heads against the rocks of a non-scheduled bedtime, or they could let go of the end of that rope and take one of two approaches.

Possible Approach #1: Since his sleep is all FUBAR because of being 18 months anyway, do nothing and just let the suck continue apace for another few weeks. Since his sleep is screwed up anyway, perhaps the won't notice the time change issues as severely as they did last year when he was 6 months old and it won't be as troublesome.

Possible Approach #2: Go at it from the other end, by adjusting his wake-up time. I mentioned this to Ann, who told me that he doesn't have a specific wake-up time, but that he usually wakes up in a one-hour window of time. (I won't tell you what that one hour is, because I like Ann and would like for you all to continue to like her, too.)

I think a one-hour timeframe is easy enough to work with, and makes this approach doable. I would just pick a time (let's say the midpoint of the time range in which he usually wakes up) and wake him up then for a couple of mornings. Since it's within half an hour of his natural wake-up, it shouldn't have any major negative effects on him. Then just start waking him up 10 minutes earlier every day for the rest of the week coming into the time change. If you could get him to wake up an hour earlier by the night before the time change, then the morning of the time change he'll be sprung forward and waking up at the midpoint of his previous wakeup time.

It sounds so simple in theory, doesn't it?

In reality, it could work like a charm. Or they could all go down in flames. Or he could cut the 18-month molars and not sleep for three days straight, or a motorcycle gang could race loudly down Ann's street and wake him up, or anything else could happen. So I make no guarantees, and no one should schedule anything important, like, say, defending a dissertation or doing any Olympic qualifying rounds for next week.

Whaddaya got?

43 thoughts on “Q&A: !@#$%ing daylight savings time again”

  1. I’ve got nothing because like Ann, my little guy has never heard of a schedule, let alone a bedtime and/or wake up time. I’m looking forward to reading the comments for help for myself as well.

  2. I’m really glad I’m not the only mom who doesn’t really have a schedule. It might be that my son has 3 caretakers (2 grandma’s and a babysitter) but it might be his personality.As for the daylight savings, it wasn’t bad last year at 4 months or at 11 months, we shall see at 15 months…probably won’t change anything…

  3. Well, there’s scheduling and then there’s scheduling. We put our son down to bed at eight sharp every night. Last night he finally fell asleep at 9:45. And woke up at 6:30 (normal wakeup time is between 7 and 7:30). Yeesh.I get so confused myself about springing forward and falling back (or is the other way around?) that I’m not sure I’m qualified to help another person adjust. Your tips are welcome!

  4. I think I will do nothing as M seems to be waking up earlier and earlier lately. 6:30 kicked my butt today… By default he should be back to his old wake up time on Sunday!M has no set schedule other than he sort of knows that he should be in bed by about 8:30 (he’s 20 months). I’m so thankful for all of you on here who have the same issue and make me feel like I don’t have an abnormal child!

  5. LOL – at waking my son earlier.Okay, spring ahead means the clock says 7 but it is really 6? So in theory when my son wakes up at 6:30 it’ll be his usual 5:30? Somehow that seems better. Now if he gets wind of this and thinks he can wake up at 4:30 because the clock says 5:30 I’m not going to love Spring Forward so much.
    We are working with the 18 month sleep disruption, too, so I’m really not messing with his sleep schedule because it’s liable to go completely haywire at any moment anyway.

  6. I got “we’re totally screwed” because we are not being proactive at all about the time change, and then Monday night – two days after the clock switch – is Purim, and the kids are going to be at synagogue, in costume, with the music and the partying and the Candy! And! Cake! And! Cookies! and I have no idea when they’re going to bed that night. But they seem to be fairly amenable to some bedtime flexibility if we stick by our evening routine, so I’m hoping that will work for Tues – Friday of next week, and maybe possibly by Monday the 16th they will be back on a “normal” schedule. The main advantage of having them on clock time is that they get to see Daddy in the a little bit in the mornings that way, and we can actually make it out of here early enough for morning toddler program at the library, etc. But if there’s a week in March when the clock says 8:30/9:00 when they wake up, and 10:00/10:15 when they go to sleep at night, I’ll live with it.Oh, and we are further screwing ourselves over by going to an 80s movie theme song singalong at midnight this Saturday night. So by the time we leave the theater it will be 3:30 AM new time.

  7. There are routines and there are schedules. DS is 16 months old, and we don’t have a schedule at all because they’ve just never worked with him. All of the times we’ve tried to impose a schedule on the mistaken notion that it would help, it just lead to a lot of frustrated, fruitless clock-watching. However, DS does seem to thrive on routines, and he usually gives us signals (a lot of sign language thanks to Moxie’s endorsement, and now some words – yipee!) to let us know when he’s sleepy, wet, hungry, wants to read, wants to shower, etc. So my point is, just because you don’t have a “schedule” doesn’t mean you’re not “doing it right!” You probably just don’t have that kind of kid, that’s all! ;)About the time change, FWIW, DS has always responded to the sun’s natural light cues – i.e. goes to bed later in the summer, but sleeps in later, goes to bed earlier in the winter, etc. Which us part of the reason why he doesn’t do schedules. I wonder if maybe if you did something to keep the baby’s room darker (blackout shades?) when you’d like him to be sleeping, he might go for it. Or not! But either way, it’s no reflection on you whatsoever. I really think sleep is one of those areas of life we don’t any real control over. Heck, I’m impressed you even knew DST was coming up – I usually don’t find out about it until after the fact. 😉

  8. OOH! I think I may be the only mom in the world who is excited about springing forward!! My little guy (14 mo.) has cut himself down to one nap a day, but is SUPER cranky by dinner time. This will mean bedtime will go back to 8 instead of 7 and maybe he’ll sleep past 5:30!!!Good luck, everybody. It bit us in the butt big time in the fall, so hopefully it’ll be better now.

  9. We looooove Spring Forward, actually. Suddenly we have the prospect of 7am wake up instead of 6. It just psychologically sounds better than OMFG I got an extra hour of sleep, but I’m up at 5am instead of 6. Boo to “fall back.” Bedtime appears to be an hour later, but it all shakes out in a few days. The Fall time change bothers me way more now that we have kids.My first thought – nudge him toward one nap a day. Double check me on this, but I’m pretty sure after 12-15 months, consolidating to one nap is pretty normal and an acceptable amount of sleep. I had success with doing this when my kiddo was 15-16 months, and it ended up freeing up more of our day in addition to improving the predictability of bedtimes. Of course watch your kid, and if he seems distressed, return to former routine, try again in a few weeks.
    What I’m proposing is that on day #1, let’s say he gets up at 7am, or 8am according to the clock. If he’s up for 3-4 hours, he may start wanting a nap around 11am according to the clock. See if you can push him to stay up just a little bit, maybe serve lunch first. Not to the point of being hysterical and overtired or anything. Just subtle distracting, maybe 15-20 minutes, tops. Then nap away, and depending on how long he naps, he might be ready for a 7pm by the clock bedtime. You may have to jolly him along until bedtime for a few days. Chances are with an earlier bedtime and one nap, he will sleep a little bit later the next day. A lot of toddlers seem to like the 1-3 nap groove eventually, and then bedtime logically falls between 7-8pm. Or tailor it to your family’s schedule if you all stay up late and sleep late, whatever.
    Good luck with whatever happens!

  10. I like Moxie’s suggestion of waking him up earlier than normal. I would add to plan some stimulating activities during the day (i.e., tire him out!) in hopes that he’ll be ready for sleep earlier than normal that evening.Perhaps try this when you don’t have a schedule to follow the next day. For example, if you don’t go to work on the weekends, try this on Saturday morning/day so if it’s a complete disaster at least you have Saturday night to (hopefully) recover before having to go into work on Monday morning.

  11. We’ve never managed to change in advance. We just deal with the adjustment as it rolls.So far, that really hasn’t been too much of an issue. At least no more than any other issue to do with sleep. Mainly our problem is not the waking (which we deal with fine) but the getting to sleep (which we grouch about).
    And since we also know there’s no way to make someone sleep… we just focus on working out the kinks and trying to stay quiet while settling.
    Oh, and Mr B is the same kind of kid – his reactions are based on his previous activity or sleep/wake/nap whatever schedule. He was also happy to go to bed if we were in bed, so we just all went to bed at the same time. That may have started during one of these time changes, though… I have zero recall on that point.
    Whatever works. Priority is on sleep. That’s why we go to bed early and then if we have a bad night we can sleep in the next day – no bad night, get up and do the morning tasks (what would previously have been called ‘evening chores’).

  12. A lot of good advice and ideas here. One thing I just want to add is that sleep begets sleep. Whatever strategy you use, keep in mind that the priority is to make sure your son is still getting the sleep he needs daily. Sleep deprivation (for mom too) makes it harder on everyone during a period of transition.It is great (impressive!) that you are aware that daylight savings time is coming, and there are other ways you can work with this. Work to get what you need to get caught up on this week so next week can be a bit of a down week if possible. Stay caught up on your sleep too. You’ll be prepared to devote some more energy to your little guy to help him through the change.
    Coach Nancy

  13. @Nancy, I must point out that “sleep begets sleep” is not true for every child, and it sounds like Ann (the OP) may have one like my Mouse for whom it is not. Really, I would have given a ton to know earlier that that sleep truism works for the majority but not everybody.@Ann, hush, & others, I have the same kind of kid (sleep is dependent on when she last woke up) combined with low overall sleep need. Putting Mouse to bed early is and has always been pointless–if she hasn’t been up X hours from her last nap/morning wakeup (she’s nearing 5 now and hasn’t napped in a couple years) she very cheerfully and happily ain’t sleeping, period. So the ONLY way to adjust her is to control the previous wakeup time, in this case the morning. That said, I am way too lazy to get my ass out of bed an extra 10 minutes early every morning, so I usually just deal with it all on the Monday we have to deal with it. She’s annoyed, but with the low sleep need and low sleep sensitivity, missing an hour or even two doesn’t have much effect–she just goes to bed a little earlier because she’s tired and that’s the end of it. So I’d say give a try to shorting the kid on the last nap (or skipping if they’re old enough) as an adjustment idea–in such kids it should lead to an earlier bedtime.

  14. Hmm, and I was looking forward to springing forward because even though we parents “lose” an hour of night time sleep, the babe wakes at 6 (by the clock) instead of the often 5 am. It just make me feel better :)I’m a frequent reader but I don’t think I’ve commented yet… and I don’t know why this particular post convinced me to start… I don’t have advice to offer 🙂 Just commisseration. For us, we keep a set bed time and bedtime routine ordinarily, and that seems to help. We’ll let him stay up a bit longer for the first few days after the change, but unlike naps, the babe goes down pretty quickly and easily at bedtime and so far recovers fairly quickly from time changes. If only he knew that wake up time started in the sixes or sevens, not the fours or fives. (rubbing eyes). Good luck everyone!

  15. We’re already getting up at 4:30…Not looking forward to the time change. I have no plan, we’re just going to slog through it.

  16. Why why WHY do we even have to HAVE standard time, I ask you? They’ve cut it down so it’s only 4 or 5 months anyway, and I don’t know why we can’t just leave well enough alone. I’m dreading the change … P is a late-ish sleeper and late-ish waker upper and those few hours between her going to sleep and me finally collapsing are like gold to me – anything that gets in the way of it is terrible!

  17. And, to top it off, my little one (26 months) has been getting a late bedtime plus sleeping in for the last week. Except today, when (despite falling asleep at 9PM) she woke up at 6 AM. Yikes. Yes, today she has been a living terror.OK, tonight I am going to put my foot down for an early bedtime. Trouble is, it’s not the kiddo who stalls at night, it’s DH. He is all about “let’s go get some ice cream after dinner” or “just one more story.” Total kid!

  18. Thank you, Charisse, and I am glad that you have been able to find what works best for your situation and to use it to help others.Your comment reminds me that I want to add the caveat to all of my posts that many of you have so eloquently stated: every child is different, every family is different, and each individual situation is different–hence the need for Moxie, forums like this, parent coaches, books, and other resources that are helpful. Ann, the input here can be helpful to assess your child’s temperament to facilitate a solution that will work best for your family.
    I concur with you, Charisse, that for the majority sleep begets sleep, and that there is a spectrum when it comes to sleep sensitivity. Many people (adults and kids alike) sleep better when they are caught up. When adults and kids alike are overstimulated, it is harder to wind down. Think about how much harder it is to settle down after a super busy day when tired and the mind is just buzzing non-stop. It is the same for children (and they’re taking in so much new information!). This is why a busy day can lead to a more difficult wind-down making it harder on all. Magnify it with a transition–ouch!
    I hope, Ann, that you may glean an approach to help your family. It’s wonderful to see parents supporting each other to bring out the best in families.
    Coach Nancy

  19. Pre kids, I LOVED the fall back and HATED the spring forward. They have definitely switched now that I kids. THe Sping one works so much easier – perhaps because for the spring forward, the starting point (the morning) can be controlled by the parent (if they want). When the boys were infants, I did start waking them up 10 minutes or so earlier each day to smooth out the transition because the boys were on a pretty tight schedule. Now that they are older, I’ll probably let them “sleep in” and then we’ll just have a busy day, put them down when they normally go down for nap and bed and see what happens.Not very helpful… sorry.

  20. I’m impressed that Ann still has him taking two naps at 18 months. No advice. We don’t do “schedules” very well, I’m afraid, so bed time is mostly dependent on when she last woke up. She’s 22 months. Yesterday, she took at 4.5-hour nap!!! I should have woken her up, I think, because bedtime wasn’t so much fun.

  21. OMG, that’s hysterical – I really do live down the street from a motorcycle gang! Thankfully, they’re all nice guys, and they do not ride at odd times of day.I hope I just didn’t jinx myself.
    We’re just going to wait and see. Mr. Wiggles schedule is FUBAR lately anyway, (26 week developmental spurt, I guess) and so I’ll let him figure out what he wants to do. I’m just glad he’ll be “sleeping later” cause he’s been waking at 5:30 lately.

  22. We are about to go the other way, it being Autumn here.Any tips or heads-ups for us? (or just “do the opposite”? hehe)
    I can’t remember the last time we went this way as the lil bloke was only a few months old then.
    But I am sure we’ll muddle through as usual, even if it means he doesn’t get to see his dad for a few days until we catch up.

  23. I have noticed that in addition to the routine (which works for my kid – loves his routine!) he’s doing better sleeping at night if we have a quite active play session before teeth brushing and book reading. He doesn’t seem to need a very long wind down session and the physical activity really seems to be helping him sleep better. Or it could be whatever phase the moon is in is working on his sleep the past few nights and I’m just enjoying the play session. 🙂

  24. This is the time change that, as a childless person, used to SUCK. Whereas the fall back time change ROCKED. But this, as with many things in parenthood, has been completely turned on its head.I think the best way to approach this isn’t to re-adjust bedtime, but rather like Moxie suggested, start at the source and readjust wake up time. And with this particular change, you can do that by waking your kid up earlier than normal (versus trying to talk a 3 year old into staying in bed an hour longer….not so much). By bedtime, their clock is set for the day. But we all know those times when our kids have woken up at that ungodly hour of 4:30 AM ready to start their day, and everything after that gets f-ed up. (That nap you can usually count on happening around 9:30 gets pushed to 7-7:30, which means that whatever you had planned for 9:30 gets thrown in the can) Same idea here, just getting that principle to work FOR you.
    And for those of us who have kids who regularly think that 4:30 -5:30 AM are AWESOME times to start their day, the great news is that for a week or so while their little bodies adjust, the clock at least will read 5:30 – 6:30 AM.
    Who’s the sucker now???
    (Answer: still us)

  25. @Tor- my general rule is that if the shifted bedtime/wake up time is going to drive me insane, I make the effort to gradually adjust. So, when we “fall back” and suddenly the 6:30 wake up becomes 5:30… I’ll try to adjust that ahead of time. I do it over a few days at 15 mins a day, and have had mixed luck with this. Usually, I try moving her bedtime, because there ain’t no way I’m setting an alarm to get up and wake my baby up. I have managed to shift about 30 mins of the wake up time change ahead of time, at a cost of spending more time on bedtime for a few days.For “spring forward”… I don’t know. She used to be such an early riser that I just thanked my lucky stars for the extra sleep. Lately, she’s been sleeping until 7 (but in our bed, with the occasional burst of activity between 5:30 and 6:30 to screw up my sleep) and our morning schedule won’t work with an 8 a.m. wake up- Hubby and I both work. So maybe we’ll make the effort to do a gradual shift this time, too. But, then, see the above comment about not setting an alarm to wake up the baby. So I’m not sure what we’ll do.
    I will say that this whole thing got easier once she moved to the day care room with a nap schedule. Now, day care does most of the time change work for us, by sticking to their naptime. Peer pressure is an amazing thing.

  26. How is it possible so many parents have to wake their kids up?! I’m jealous. After reading some blogs I have decided…to do nothing. I suspect my kids will adjust their schedule slowly back to the normal time – they are already starting to move it back 30 mins (so second bottle is 10:30 am instead of 11 am). I think schedule means you found a routine that works for you and you put it to a clock. Kind of a necessity for working parents!

  27. @Mommy, Esq.- my daughter woke up at 4:30 a.m. until she was about 6 months old, when she moved to 5:30. I celebrated when moved to 6 when she was about a year old, and the move from 6:30 to 7ish (most days) only happened in the last few weeks- she is almost 23 months old now. If you’d told me last year that I’d be worrying about her sleeping too long, I’d have laughed at you!

  28. Since no-one from Alaska has posted yet, here’s my 2 cents. Daylight Savings Time is REALLY annoying here, as he have whacked out daylight/darkness cycles anyway. We sleep with blackout shades and white noise fans year round to help everyone in our family get his or her rest.I would normally do the wake up 10 minutes earlier per day routine for Little Brown (just turned 3) for Spring Forward. But since 10 year old brother Big Red will be on Spring Break and with my folks at their remote cabin that week, I’ll just suck it up and have the 3 year old miss his daily nap so that he’ll be tired enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour. It may take a few days, but it’ll work better for us since we’re not on our normal schoolweek routine/schedule anyway.

  29. Mm, just factually, the UK and most of Europe won’t move til the following sunday, leadign to lots of confusion on conference call timings for a week. Plus the whole thing helps me as I’m bringing my daughter to the US and this means she only has to adjust by 4 hours not 5.

  30. If I’m reading you correctly, Ann’s clever, clever child sleeps later than some of our demon spawn, er, I mean beloved offspring.I started to say that if I were Ann, I wouldn’t try to make the time change at all, which is actually sort of what we do with our kids, because we prefer a little bit later bedtime in the summer anyway (and an earlier one in the winter months, though waking up earlier kind of sucks rocks).
    But several minutes of complicated time math later, I think that this would be a great solution for a kid with a super EARLY wake-up time, but not so much for a later one.
    Maybe my solution will help someone else, though?
    (Also, if I were Ann, I would probably have forced the bedtime issue by now because I am all about the flexible about many, many parenting issues, but bed- and nap-time, she is sacred in my world.)

  31. My 2-year-old has been on a nap strike for the last 4 days so he’s been falling asleep about an hour earlier every night. I was thinking this might mean that we are in for trouble with the time change until I remembered that we are flying west on Sunday to a place three hours earlier than here. So next week will be totally screwed up anyway. We will only be gone 8 days, just long enough to completely scramble his circuits.

  32. @hush-“There are routines and there are schedules” YES- THANK YOU! Maybe I could have saved myself 6 mos of grief and self doubt if I had read this a while ago…Fall back was the start of the four month sleep regression for us, that sucked. My plan is to just not tell M that the time is changing and see what happens…

  33. My baby girl (turning one on Thursday!) is definitely a schedule girl. As luck would have it, I get to put this one off because we are in the EST going to vosot her Dad who is working in the CST. Since they are an hour behind us, I am going to just keep her on eastern time since the CST will be “springing forward” into her schedule (do I make sense). in 2 weeks though, I’ll have to figure it out again….

  34. @Charisse – Thanks for posting. Yours sounds like my V. ‘Low overall sleep need’! Ha ha, exactly. She’s 19 months and rarely napping. The next sleep is almost always dependent on when she last woke up. We just finished up the 18 month old sleep regression. For once, it was actually a regression that I could note as ‘worse than normal’ instead of just ‘horrendous and maybe more horrendous? but I can’t tell because I’ve gotten no sleep’.We just had a night where she was awake from 2:30am on, so my lovely ‘wake up 10 minutes earlier’ plan has been totally destroyed and we are just going to see what happens.
    The problem with changing the wake-up time (and for Ann, this might be different; also I cannot believe that she’s still getting 2 naps a day!, and I’m quite certain I don’t want to hazard a guess at the wakeup hour window!) is that V doesn’t really want to nap anyway. On days when I know she’s awake earlier, and I try to get her down for a nap earlier, she just resists for longer, so sometimes that alone doesn’t cut it. For me, I’ve had better luck moving the nap wake-up time, regardless of how much nap there was. E.g., I’d *like* V to sleep from 2:30 to 4pm for a nap, but even if she goes down at 3:15, she still only gets until 4pm. For DST, I think we’ll probably have to go with a catnap, or no nap at all.
    Can we have a ‘week in review’ after this to see how it went for all of us, Moxie?

  35. Okay, everyone, I jinxed it by writing it down! Yesterday and today, my son woke up early. And yesterday he only took one nap. I think he’s on the verge of transitioning to one nap, which would be okay with me (as long as it’s not too early in the day, because he can’t go that long without sleep or he becomes a major crankypants. (And while I know we’re lucky that he still takes two naps and sleeps until a not-ungodly hour of the morning, it all evens out because he has slept through the night maybe a handful of times his whole life. We’re still up with him at least 2-3 times every night. So it evens out, I figure.)Thanks, all, for pointing out that the spring time-change is usually better than the fall one — I was just thinking “time change! Ugh!” because the last one was so terrible. And I can’t take credit for remembering that it was coming up, because I only knew because my mom mentioned it this weekend. I’m really *not* that together! 🙂
    I’m thinking we’ll just try to slog through it next week, and maybe be more diligent with bedtimes this week just so he isn’t staying up later than us next week. 😉

  36. Once again I am happy to live in Queensland, Australia where the clock never moves forward or back – it just keeps on ticking. : ) It is one less thing that I have to worry about and I feel for all the Moms out there who have to deal with the changes in routine. As my friend always says, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”The boy turned 18 months old on March 1 and no sign of the 18 month regression yet. It is going to hit us any day now??
    Good luck with the time changes!! I miss the US terribly but for once, happy to be in AUS. : )

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