What do Daylight Savings Time and James Bond have in common?
More than you may realize.
If you’ve spent any time watching movies since 1960, you know that Germans are a favorite pick for villains in popular movie plots. This runs the gamut from Indiana Jones I&III to various Super Hero franchises like Wonder Woman and Captain America to spy thrillers like James Bond- which has featured at least 10 actual German actors as 007’s antagonists. Even cartoon villains often speak with a German accent!
Enter Daylight Savings Time (DST) and- drumroll- you have yet again a villain that originated in Germany. DST was first introduced by the German Empire during World War I as a means to save resources during the war effort.
Daylight Savings Time and it’s implications for families with kids
The switch to winter time is almost upon us and I bet most of us- me included- used to somewhat celebrate gaining the extra hour before we had kids. Opposite to the time switch in spring where we loose an hour and have to get up extra early, the extra hour in fall always seemed like a win. Fast forward to life with kids, and the time switch in fall is yet another not so subtle reminder that things aren’t quite the same anymore. Parents know that babies don’t read the clock and that their young kids don’t care that they could sleep an hour longer on November 4th. As a parent, you’re bracing yourself for what will then be an extra early wake up with the resulting mess that the unfolding day will be. Below are two options on how to handle and soften the blow that DST might otherwise bring to your sleep.
Game plans to approach Daylight Savings Time for your littles
While these suggestions won’t do away with DST, they do offer a game plan. And isn’t having a strategy half the battle in dealing with a villain?
Option A- Ease into it
Leading up to November 4th, gradually shift your kids schedule until you arrive at the adjusted time. I suggest going in 15min increments every 2 days. Here’s an example of how that could look like for a one year old that right now wakes up at 6am, takes his first nap at 9am, his second nap at 1pm and goes to bed around 7pm:
Starting times: 6am, 9am, 1pm, 7pm
Sunday/Monday: 6:15am, 9:15am, 1:15pm, 7:15pm
Tuesday/Wednesday: 6:30am, 9:30am, 1:30pm, 7:30pm
Thursday/Friday: 6:45am, 9:45am, 1:45pm, 7:45pm
Saturday: 7am, 10am, 2pm, 8pm
If you get started tomorrow, November 4th will be Day 8, so the “old” 7am is the new 6am. You can go more gradually of course, like in 10min increments, and continue on until you have completed the 1 hour shift from the old summertime to the new wintertime.
Sleep may be a little more disrupted during this transition time, and this may predict how fast you want to go. The key is to keep working towards the adjusted goal time and not go back in time, even if that means staying with an increment for one or two days longer. Make sure that naps end on time, so that they don’t bleed into wake time as that will make it harder for him to adjust. Expose your child to bright light during the day as this will help him adjust to the new time.
Option B- Out with the old in with the new
Make the shift in one fell swoop, do everything according to the actual clock time. This approach works well with kids that are non sensitive sleepers and older kids that have their schedules determined by school and other regular activities. Your child will still wake early on the morning of November 4th, but she can contently play through the extra hour she is spending in her crib that day or be convince to keep it low until everybody gets up. If she is still napping, you can make getting to the naps easier by offering an extra long calm time before laying her down. Make sure that naps end on time, so that they don’t bleed into wake time as that will make it harder for her to adjust. Expose your child to bright light during the day as this will help her adjust to the new time.
Bonus Option C- Ignore DST
This option will only be feasible if you and/or your child don’t have to conform to set outside schedules. It is a valid option though, and probably most applicable if your child naturally wakes up closer to 7am. If this is the route you plan on going, you may still see an adjustment over time – depending on where you live- based on the light and activity levels that automatically change with shorter days in winter and then again lengthening days after winter solstice.
Before becoming a parent, did you ever wonder how something as mundane as DST could involve so much thinking? Good luck with the time change and stay rested- oh, and I’d love to read your thoughts on this!