This is how seasoned parents get kids through daylight saving time

From blackout curtains to wearing them out, parents and sleep experts share how they adjust kids to the time change.
by / / Source: TODAY Contributor

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The bad news is, daylight saving time is on March 11.

The good news is, this one is slightly less terrible than the other one.

"In my opinion, 'spring forward' is much better than 'fall back,'" said Katie Pitts, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and mom of two. "That being said, it still can be a jolt for our little ones."

With more sunshine in the evening hours and the chance to sleep a bit longer in the mornings, "springing forward" can be a tough adjustment.

But before you give up on sleep forever, take these tips from Pitts and seasoned moms for surviving the shift.

Wear them out.

On the Monday after the time shift, Jacque Rogers Foster's four kids struggle with waking up for school. To help them feel tired enough for an earlier bedtime, Rogers Foster and her husband, who live in Greenville, South Carolina, have developed a strategy.

On the first day of daylight saving, Jacque Rogers Foster and her husband tire their kids out with lots of outdoor play.
On the first day of daylight saving, Jacque Rogers Foster and her husband tire their kids out with lots of outdoor play.Jacque Rogers Foster

"We wear them out on Sunday," Rogers Foster explained. "No indoor anything — our local children's museum, playground until dark, trampoline in the playroom after dinner — so they’ll go to bed earlier than usual."

This trick will, of course, require extra energy from parents, too. But the restful evening will make up for it.

Shift their schedule.

If you can start a few days in advance, like Nashville, Tennessee mom Alexandra Toppins does, you can slowly nudge sleep to where you need it.

Alexandra Toppins and her husband begin preparing several days before, shifting their daughter's nap and bedtimes forward in 15-minute increments.
Alexandra Toppins and her husband begin preparing several days before, shifting their daughter's nap and bedtimes forward in 15-minute increments.Alexandra Toppins

"We try to start a few days to a week before and move naps and bedtime by 15 minutes at a time every two days," said Toppins, who also uses this technique when she and her husband travel out of state with their 11-month-old daughter. "You may not be exactly on target when the time change comes, but you'll be close and the kids will adjust the rest soon enough."

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Buy blackout curtains.

"This is the best time change," said Amarillo, Texas mom Courtney Wagner. "My kids normally sleep an hour later for about a week — then their bodies usually adjust on their own."

But the bright light filtering into her kids' rooms at bedtime can occasionally cause a problem.

Daylight saving time can be exhausting for kids, but a few small routine changes can help.
Daylight saving time can be exhausting for kids, but a few small routine changes can help.Jacque Rogers Foster

"Buy blackout curtains (shop our $11 favorites here) so they don't protest falling asleep when the sun is still shining bright in the windows," said Wagner.

Many moms swear by inexpensive paper shades like these, available on Amazon, which can be cut to size and stuck to a window.

Split the difference.

In this method, parents split the extra hour by scheduling bed and nap times 30 minutes later to allow their child to adjust.

"If nap time was usually at 9:30 a.m., it’s now at 10:00 a.m. The same goes for the afternoon nap," said Pitts. "Bedtime, which is typically at 7:00 p.m. would be 7:30 p.m. instead."

With a bit of schedule adjustment and some patience from their parents, most kids adjust within a week or two.
With a bit of schedule adjustment and some patience from their parents, most kids adjust within a week or two.Alexandra Toppins

"This will mean that your baby will be going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wake times in between sleep, but it’s not so much that it’s going to interfere with his schedule too much," Pitts continued. "It may take him more time to fall asleep since he may not be as tired, but in a week’s time, he will be back on track again."

On day four, parents can move forward to to the correct bed or nap time.

"Give it time," said Pitts. "And know that your baby will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two."

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