It’s that time of year again… time to change the clocks back an hour. All my life, I have hated the time change – especially the spring change forward. Once in high school, for whatever reason, my alarm clock was wrong, and went off hours earlier that it should have. My sister and I got up, dutifully dressed and got ready for school before looking at a clock elsewhere in the house. We grumbled and grumped about how early it felt and how we both detested the time change. How impossible it was going to be getting through the day, and wondering why we still did a time change. Weren’t we surprised when the kitchen clock showed 4 a.m. We were teenagers, so of course we when back to bed – and were late for school.
My feelings about the time change haven’t improved since the addition of children to my life. In fact, they have worsened considerably. Having experienced 20 time changes with various age groups, I’ve learned that surviving the time changes with small children takes grit, determination, and planning.
Don’t get me wrong, we do NOT gradually change schedules the previous week. I have tried this, and for my children, it doesn’t work. I usually end up with grumpy, tired, hungry children for 10 days instead of 2 or 3. Some families are able to successfully make a gradual change, and have a great time doing it. My children just don’t handle it well.
What I have learned is that, much like eating spinach, adjusting to time changes just has to happen. Here are a few things we do to help it happen more easily.
First, the night before the time change, we have a party. We stay up super, super late. All children – yes, the toddler too – stay up with us. We play games, eat junk food, and watch a movie together. The goal is to stay up so late that everyone’s body clock is thrown so far off balance that it resets itself.
The next day, we stick to a strict schedule. No sleeping in. The day after the time change is a Sunday. So, we get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head off to church just as we always would on a Sunday at the times that would be normal, according to the new time. Everyone’s bodies are thrown off far enough that they usually just believe the clock.
Finally, and this is crucial, for the next two or so days we make sure we get out in the sunshine, go to bed at the right time, and eat on a schedule, all based on the new time. The sun helps the body know it’s daytime and helps to set the body’s clock. Eating and sleeping on a schedule also helps to regulate the body’s internal clock.
Taken all together, by the third day everyone’s adjusted and back to normal. We usually have one day (day one) where everyone’s just a bit grumpier – but that’s more because we’re all tired from the party—not from the time change.
I’ve done this now for about four years and have been amazed at how well and how quickly it works each time.
What about your family? How do you survive the time changes with your children?