March 4, 2013 at 11:04 AM ET
Daylight saving time (which begins this Sunday, March 10th) isn't the easist sell for kids. I know what's going to happen in my house: It won't be dark yet at my son's bedtime, it will "feel" earlier to him—and he'll put up a big old fuss when it's time to hit the hay at 7:30 p.m.
Are you anticipating the same bedtime battle with your kids? We asked Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., how to make this weekend's transition easier.
For starters, don't expect your kids to adjust to the time difference immediately. "Parents need to understand that their child is going to have difficulty going to bed at their usual time," she says, adding that it can take up to four days for kids to adjust. Beyond that, she advises:
Start now. Begin putting your child to bed a few minutes earlier each night leading up to the change, to help make the transition more gradual.
Make bedtime later once the time changes. If bedtime is usually 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, let your kids stay up until 8 p.m. Ideally, they should fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of putting them down.
Wake up at the usual time. Keep your kid's wake-up time the same.
Darken his bedroom. "Light suppresses the body's production of melatonin, which helps us sleep," says Dr. Owens.
As for moms? The above applies to us, too!
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.