Daylight Savings Parenting Tips


Parenting / Saturday, March 5th, 2016

“I love daylight savings,” said no parent, ever. Daylight savings parenting can be a challenge! 12 Tips for parents and kids to rock daylight savings week.

Daylight savings.

It. Is. Coming.

Changing clocks to maximize daylight hours seems like a good idea. Until it isn’t.

Before having kids, moving the clock ahead or back an hour wasn’t a big deal. Go to bed earlier, and sleep a little later; in a few days we forgot it ever happened.

Then we had kids.

“I love daylight savings!” said no parent, ever.

'I love daylight savings!', said no parent, ever. #thisgratefulmama #daylightsavings #parenting #motherhood Click To Tweet

The problem.

Changing the clock creates a BIG problem for the little people in my life. And, in turn, their parents.

It takes just a few seconds to set the time on the clock. Unfortunately, it does NOT happen so quickly for the internal clocks of our children.

It takes just a few seconds to set the time on the clock. Unfortunately, it does NOT happen so quickly for the internal clocks of our children. #daylightsavings #nope #thisgratefulmama Click To Tweet

A one hour time change isn’t welcomed by their little bodies. They are tired when we need to get up. Of course, they are not tired at nap time or at bedtime. They are hungry when it isn’t meal time, and not hungry when it is. A one hour change throws everything just a little off.

12 Tips for Parents and Kids to have a Great Daylight Savings Week | thisgratefulmama.com #daylightsavings #parenting #Motherhood #momlife #parentingstrategy

In our experience, a child’s natural clock takes a minimum of one week to shift an hour. And in many cases, it will take even MORE time.

Last year, we naively sprung the time change on our kids. Sure, we expected a day or two of tired children, but a full week?

Sigh. The unwanted effects of the week following daylight savings are undesirable, at best.

How parents approach the inevitable time change can make a big difference. We can accept it and face it head on, or we can dread it and complain our way through it (the latter did not work well for any of us last year).

So, how do we face it head on?  Here are some strategies for surviving and thriving in the aftermath of daylight savings.

12 Tips for Parents and Kids to Have a Great Daylight Savings Week | thisgratefulmama.com

12 Tips for Parents and Kids to Have a Great Daylight Savings Week

1. Plan Ahead

A week before changing the clock, start to gradually move bedtimes up or back. Start with 5-10 minutes and add 5-10 minutes per night until the big day. It might not work well every night, but hopefully their little bodies won’t go into complete shock by trying to change it all at once. Thank goodness it’s only one hour!

2. Be Flexible

Keeping the family schedule loose the week after daylight savings is a game changer. If we hold onto things loosely, it will be much easier to let some things go if the kids (or you) are just too tired to do it all.

Decide now it’s going to be okay if the nap doesn’t happen. Children may have trouble falling asleep at the new time, and falling asleep late may affect night time sleep. Roll with it.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Kids aren’t the only ones adjusting to a new schedule. As you help them, help yourself by continuing to work out and eat well. Even when you feel tired and want to take shortcuts. This will help you ensure good habits survive the change. Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. You will need lots and lots of coffee. Buy more now.

Don't forget the coffee. You're going to need lots and lots of coffee. Buy more now. #thisgratefulmama #coffee #motherhood #daylightsavings Click To Tweet

4. Spend Time With God

No matter how tired YOU are, don’t sleep in at the expense of taking time with the Lord. Consider getting up early and spending quality time with God before the kids get up. We can trust the God who made us with our own tiredness. You need to be filled and refreshed to face this challenge!

Spending time with Him will equip you to extend grace, patience, and gentleness when your kids need it the most. This will be an investment that blesses you and your kids.

5. Be Grateful For Evening Daylight

Focus on the fact that daylight savings means SPRING. Spring means warmth. Sun. And Summer. This change promises lovely days to come.

Embrace those extra evening hours and use them to get yourself and the kids outside for a walk, or to do something productive around the house when you’d usually feel like hibernating.

6. Have Reasonable Expectations

It is safe to assume that each child is going to experience some kind of struggle during the week after daylight savings. Plan to greet those struggles with extra grace. Expect non-negotiable family rules to be followed, but expect that kids (or adults) may struggle with emotions and behavior. Recognize when they are doing the best they can. Practice patience. Extend grace. Forgive quickly and move on.

Daylight Savings Tips for Parents #momlife #motherhood #parenting #strategy #daylightsavings

7. Avoid Comparison

It is also not fair to expect each child to adjust quickly, or at the same rate. Comparison doesn’t help anyone. It may take different strategies to help each child; adjust as needed to meet them where they’re at.

8. Have A Backup Plan

Stock up on quiet activities to distract and help kids wind down. Invest in some inexpensive new activities like new library books, a new puzzle, new bath toys or new coloring books to keep kids interested in quiet and calm activities. Pull them out when they hit a rough patch.

9. Be Consistent

Don’t forgo the bedtime routine. And avoid adding or neglecting anything you don’t want to continue in perpetuity or  to have to battle over later. For example, extra books at bedtime may sound like a good idea when they aren’t tired on those first few nights, but then the kids will EXPECT them going forward. Instead of reading extra books IN the bedtime routine, read them downstairs as a separate activity and THEN continue with the normal bedtime routine.

10. Don’t Forget About Food

If your child is struggling, try to determine if they are just tired, or if hunger may be contributing.  It isn’t just sleep that can cause problems after daylight savings, our stomachs do too! Consider moving meal times up slowly the week before, or providing small snacks to get kids through hunger pangs before or after mealtime.

Think healthy. Chop extra vegetables or offer a piece of fruit. This way, even if their healthy snack spoils their dinner, it will be alright. It’s much better to allow a snack than to deal with a hangry child.

11. Increase Quality Time

When kids struggle the most is often when they need us the most. Play Barbies, LEGOS, or whatever interests them most. Read more books and soak up snuggles. Keep them engaged with a family game of hide-and-seek or a board game. Let them help you cook dinner, even if it is slow and messy. As they soak up the attention, you may see their attitude and ability to cope with how they’re feeling improve.

12. Keep It In Perspective

This week will not last forever. When an epic public meltdown happens, you can move on. These tired, hungry, cranky children will return to their normal sweet selves. This too shall pass, even if it takes longer than we’d like.

Here’s hoping sleep returns to all of us quickly.

Additional Resources

5 Ways to Prep Your Kids For Daylight Savings Time, Dina Roth Port, Parents.com

Weary Mom, God’s Grace is for you Today, Laura Rennie, iBelieve.com

A Tired Mom Can Be The Most Influential, September McCarthy, Proverbs 31 Ministries

2 Replies to “Daylight Savings Parenting Tips”

  1. Great ideas! Changing the clock always makes for changes with the kiddos! It’s important that we help them adjust, and also help ourselves too. I’ve been REALLY trying hard to appreciate the extra daylight and thank God for my blessings, even though I have been exhausted this week.

    1. I have been trying to do the same despite also being very tired. The kids seem to be at their peak of tired too – hoping tomorrow will be them finally feeling somewhat adjusted (and me). but I certainly have seen this week that God is good…even when we are tired 🙂

Share Your Thoughts!