People always ask us what do to when we change the clocks. I know moms who worry about this for weeks ahead of time! They tell us, “We’ve been working so hard to keep him on schedule and now, everything will just fall apart.” It can be a frustrating time. Believe me, I know! When we changed the clocks ahead last week, I was prepared…I’m a certified sleep consultant after all! I did exactly what I’d been trained to do and what I had been doing successfully for the past 3 years. I stuck to the clock.
The “rule” with changing the clocks is that we don’t try to slowly transition our kids, but we simply start with the new time right away. It’s what I was taught and what Weissbluth recommends in his books and on his blog. So, at 6:30 on the night we moved our clocks forward, I had our little one ready for bed even though the sun was still shining and she seemed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
She was not happy with me.
Our typically cooperative and very sleepy girl refused to go to sleep. She started pulling out her old tricks (from when she was two) of asking for water, needing ice for her knee/ankle/leg, getting hungry and just flat-out whining that she was not tired. We were firm and stuck with our usual routine of returning her to bed.
Well, this continued all week and I could not figure out what was going on. While “going by the book” is often helpful, not all “rules” work for all kids all the time. Sometimes, we need to be flexible enough to do what’s best in the moment. As a sleep consultant, I know that kids struggle to fall asleep and wake early (and in the middle of the night) when their bedtime is too late. In this case, I knew 6:30 could not be too late. Our daughter was not showing signs of being overtired (she tends to tantrum or become extremely fussy). Although she does not always nap at her pre-school, on the weekend, she is taking 3-4 hour naps so I’m pretty sure that her sleep debt is not too great.
So I tried a new plan…
We reminded her of our family sleep rules (1. Brush teeth/wash face 2. Read three books 3. Sing two songs 4. Snuggle and kiss goodnight 5. Stay in bed until morning) and made a new sticker/rewards chart for the next five days. We explained to her that we, as her mom and dad, were tired and things needed to change. We also pushed her bedtime up to 7:00pm. And…things are better. As sleep consultants, we don’t always have the answers but we understand that being flexible, creative and patient are sometimes the most important traits we can have for our clients, ourselves and our kids!