How to help your children adjust to the clock change


This weekend, the clocks ‘Spring Forward.’ It basically means that we lose an hour’s sleep, but our evenings get a lot lighter. For adults, this is brilliant. I always feel more energised and like summer is finally on its way.

However, for our children, and specifically for parents, the hour change can be a complete nightmare. Every six months, I spend ages trying to work out if I should be doing bedtime earlier or later to compensate and prepare them for the change. We are definitely a family of early risers – well, both children are early risers – but these tips do seem to have helped Ben to cope with the hour change fairly well, and I expect Samuel will be ok too.

Now that I’m posting this, though, they are both going to be nightmares, aren’t they?

So, here are my tips on how to help your children adjust to the clock change.

  1. 1. Do it gradually.

I think it can take a good few days to adjust. I try to do it in 15 minute segments, so that by Monday or Tuesday, bedtime is where it should be. Therefore, in Spring, if your child has a 7pm bedtime, I usually start on the Friday evening.

Spring – Clocks go forward
Friday evening – Bedtime at 6.45pm.
Saturday – Bedtime at 6.30pm
Sunday – Bedtime 7.15pm (new time)
Monday – Bedtime 7.00pm

Now, I have been sleep-deprived for about 3 years and 8 months, not including the insomnia I often struggle with. It honestly takes me so long each time to work this out, so I’ve worked it out for the Autumn clock change too.

Autumn – Clocks go back
Friday evening – Bedtime at 7.15pm.
Saturday – Bedtime at 7.30pm
Sunday – Bedtime 6.45pm (new time)
Monday – Bedtime 7.00pm

Now, I’m absolutely not saying that your child will go to bed like clockwork at the allotted time each night. You may well need to take 10 days or so to do it very very gradually. But it’s more about the general direction of things, if you see what I mean.

I’ve even put it on a handy image for you to save.

Clock Change 2


2. Wear them out

I’m a real advocate of tiring children out! Ben has lots of energy, and is very active. I make it my mission to tire him out by the end of the day. Of course, this year, we have have Easter and the inevitable sugar rush, to contend with, but I’m planning on wearing him out hunting eggs in the garden, and running around with his cousins.
It’s a really good idea, no matter what the weather, to get outside and do quite a lot of physical activity over these days, so they do sleep more soundly at night.

3. Keep your mornings consistent

This is probably one of my biggest challenges, personally. I am good at the regular bed time, but I’m not always very consistent in the mornings. Ben has a Gro-clock, and he is supposed to wait in bed until the sun clock comes up. It has worked brilliantly, but we have the occasional morning when he gets up before the sun is up (on the clock), and I let him. The following mornings are always more difficult.

It’s the same with whatever you normally do in the morning: just keep it consistent. It’s difficult if you like to let another parent sleep in, or if you have other children who you don’t want disturbed, but I think it’s worth the gain.

4. Keep your bedtime routine consistent

My children have a very predictable routine. So much so, in fact, that when we went on holiday, Ben got upset because he didn’t have his usual blue towel, but had to use the holiday ones instead. (Perhaps they are a bit too routine-dependent?)
Anyway, it’s kind of an obvious point, but keep bedtimes as normal as possible.

5. Black out the light

I love Black-out blinds and curtains. We have them in our bedroom, and they are wonderful. They are absolutely essential for the next few months, as the evenings, and then the mornings become lighter.
My sister-in-law actually used to carry a fair amount of black-out material with her everywhere she stayed with her children. Her children are all brilliant sleepers.

I really hope it’s not too painful a transition for you! The early mornings are tough; there’s usually some heartfelt solidarity over on Twitter!

By Naomi


  1. Reply

    I moved all meal times as well as bedtimes back by 10 minutes every day for the 6 days leading up to the Autumn clock change to avoid Nathan waking up too early. It worked really well but the timetable looked rather complicated!

    1. Reply

      That’s a really good idea, especially when they’re so little and need meal times very regimented. How did it go this weekend?

      1. Reply

        Very straight forwards now. We didn’t do anything special and he was fine. Nathan’s a wee star and very flexible thanks to all the work Kathryn put in early on.

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