It’s that daylight savings time of year again, and you know what that means…cranky kids, temper tantrums, and no sleep for you, right? Well, not necessarily…we’ve got you covered. The ‘spring ahead, fall back’ time changes can mix up everyone’s schedule. The loss of just one hour can really affect a child’s attention span, appetite, and overall mood. You can minimize the effects of daylight savings time by being prepared.
Here are some helpful tips on how to get kids back on track so everyone can get a good night’s sleep.
Allow Time for Gradual Adjustment:
It takes some time to adapt to a loss of sleep. So if your child normally goes to bed at 8 p.m., put him/her to bed at 7:45 p.m., then 7:30 p.m., and so on, until they are going to bed as close to 7 p.m. as possible. This step-by-step process is not as much a shock to the system, as it is when you abruptly expect your child to fall asleep an hour earlier after the time change. If you’re having trouble getting your child to bed earlier, which is often the case in older kids, then just focus on getting them up in the morning a bit earlier instead. When daylight savings time ends in the fall, this gradual approach can still help — follow the same guidelines — just push the wake-up times and bedtimes a little later rather than earlier.
To Make Bedtime Easier, Control the Lights:
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s internal clock. The levels of this hormone increase in the evening as it becomes dark to help induce sleep. Melatonin levels decrease when it’s light out to assist with wakefulness and alertness. Daylight savings time alters your natural cycle, and the results can be particularly difficult for kids. I recommend dimming the lights in your child’s bedroom and turning off all electronics about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. According to The National Sleep Foundation, these devices can reduce sleep time, sleep quality, and daytime alertness because of light exposure and brain engagement right before bedtime.
In the morning, you should try to get your child into the light as much as possible. Natural sunlight is best, so if weather permits, make sure there is sunlight entering your home, or turn on the lights so it’s nice and bright! To help when you “fall back,” make sure your child has some light exposure in the early evening. Be careful to ensure that your child’s room doesn’t become too bright too soon in the early morning.
Establish a Routine:
When daylight savings time begins or ends, it’s especially important to stick with a bedtime routine. Your child is now dealing with a change in schedule that might throw him off. It’s absolutely critical that they have a routine during bedtime because that’s what helps create a powerful signal for sleep. One option is giving your child a warm bath, reading him a book, and snuggling together before lights out.
Get Enough Sleep Beforehand:
In the days before you change your clocks, make sure your child is getting plenty of shut-eye. Sleep results in more sleep, so going into daylight savings time well-rested will greatly help your child because he won’t be cranky and overtired, which can make falling asleep even harder.
Be Supportive and Understanding:
In the days following daylight savings time, try to be more forgiving if your child is throwing extra temper tantrums or seems to be particularly frustrated or difficult in any way. The time change can cause these short-term changes in your child’s mood, but your understanding and support will help them adjust a little better to the new schedule.
Take Care of You:
And most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Many adults feel sluggish and cranky themselves after the time switch, so make sure you’re getting the rest you need as well. Thankfully, these effects are all short-lived — within a week or so, everything should be back to normal.
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Would you agree that kids tend to give up too easily?
My kids sure do.
Take my daughter and her homework for example. When she gets stuck on a problem, she gets really frustrated and whines about how she cannot figure it out.
She ends up sitting there, pouting…which leads to no homework being done.
So, what does mommy or daddy do? We come over and tell her how to do it. Which is all fine and dandy because we do want her to know that we’re there for her when she needs help.
The problem was in how we, as her parents, were helping her.
Instead of guiding her into figuring out the solution to the problem herself, we were essentially giving her the answers.
Instead of having her attempt to talk out loud her thought process to figure out where she is actually getting stuck and what exactly she doesn’t understand, we tend to jump in a little too early.
Anyone else guilty of jumping in too soon to help their kids?
She was not thinking for herself. What kids these days are missing is that critical thinking component.
Here are a few ways we take away from our kids’ independence:
Tell them the answer right away
Do it for them
Tell them how we think the task should be done
Ways we let kids think for themselevs and become more independent:
Ask your kids to explain what they’re stuck on
Give kids questions to think about as a way to guide them on what they need to ask themselves next to figure the problem out
One thing I’m working on with my kids is how to manage their time, especially in the morning.
Now this didn’t happen overnight, but we’ve gotten them on a morning routine that they are now used to.
They wake up, brush their teeth, get dressed, make their beds, come downstairs, get their backpacks ready to go, unload the dishwasher and eat breakfast.
My daughter does not like being tardy but she’s probably the one that drags her feet the most.
Most days she is good about getting her list done. Some days, like today, we’re twenty minutes from needing to leave the house and she has barely walked down the stairs.
Normally, I would jump in and remind them of the time and how they’ll be late if they don’t hurry up.
This time, I just let them be.
Eventually one of them noticed what time it was, and they got their act together.
We made it to school with 1 minute to spare but the entire time during the car ride there, they were quite nervous. Especially when we had to stop at each red light.
But the lesson here is that if I don’t let them figure things out for themselves and learn things the hard way, then I am not doing them any favors.
The quicker I let them fail and learn from their mistakes, the better it is for them in the long run.
An excellent example I got from another mom that I’m starting to implement with my own kids now is what I call, the Power of 3.
If they have a problem, they need to figure out for themselves three different ways they can solve that problem before coming to an adult to get help.
This could be anything. The key is that when they come asking for help, they need to list out the three things they did to figure it out for themselves.
This promotes independence, self-reliance, critical thinking, problem solving skills, and confidence while preventing co-dependency, low self-esteem and lack of confidence. And who doesn’t want that for our kids?
Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!
At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.
If you’re like me, then you probably like to limit screen time for your kids. Spending time with your kids can be a healthy activity getting everyone off the couch and active outdoors. If your children know that you value activity, they’re more likely to value it themselves.
Here’s a couple fun outdoor activities that our family likes and can get your whole family spending an active time together:
This is a simple one when you don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing or having to do a lot of serious physical activity. Keep a supply of sidewalk chalk in your supply closet!
Let your child’s inner artist come out and when the rain washes it away you can start all over. If you really want to get jumping, sketch out a hopscotch grid and go to town.
Our family enjoys biking our neighborhood trail whenever we get the chance. It brings a calm to our hectic schedules. Sometimes if time and weather permit, we’ll go to the beach and ride our bikes along the trails there. I realize not everyone lives close to the beach but it can be fun riding along a canal or other body of water in your city!
Here are a few ideas that we haven’t tried ourselves but look really fun. We are adding them to our list and hope to do them really soon!
This is a great activity that’s been going on since 2000. Currently, there are millions of geocaches hidden around the world.
You can download the app and then follow your GPS on an outdoor adventure to locate this “hidden treasure.” Once you find it, you sign the log and know that you’ve accomplished something and had a chance to bond along the way.
Many local communities have weekend farmer’s markets. You can walk around outdoors and check out the incredible produce the local farmers have to offer. It’s a good way to introduce your kids to fresh fruits and veggies and instill in them a belief in supporting local businesses and independent growers.
This one caught on with college students years ago, but it’s one that the whole family can really enjoy. Some people buy all kinds of frisbees to play with, but you really only need a few that you can pick up at the dollar store. You can even make your own “course” in your backyard by designating a goal and having everyone see who can get the closest to it with their frisbee.
That’s just a few things you can do to get your kids moving and involved in the outdoors. Sure, they may complain about bug bites, the heat, or a few cuts and scrapes along the way, but those can be taken care of easily and everyone will enjoy spending time together.
Before having kids, I’d always heard of people talking about soccer moms—those harried suburban women with a mini-van full of kids having to run back and forth transporting them from practices to games.
I wasn’t sure that would ever by me. But now, after having kids of my own, I’m not a soccer mom. Instead, I’m a softball mom and, at one point, when my son was playing, also a baseball mom.
Peak season in the springtime usually meant practice and/or games 2-3 days a week. That was busy enough but when you pull in games on the weekends, you can see your life getting chaotic and out of control.
So, on any given day, you have to pick up the kids from school, have them scarf down a quick snack, start on their homework, go to practice, get back home, cook them dinner, feed them, and then they have to shower, finish their homework and maybe, just maybe, you can get them to bed at a decent hour.
So, how do we help our children do all of this? The first thing you’re going to need is a giant calendar.
I know, apps work well, too. But for a lot of people, having a big physical calendar is still the best way to go so you can physically see it without opening your phone and going down the rabbit-hole of technology distractions.
List all the events you have as soon as you get the schedule. Put up the practice dates, games, and other school events and see if there’s going to be any time left for other events. You don’t want to over schedule yourself and burn out even more!
Include one very specific thing for you and your family—some quality family time.
Make sure that at least once a week you’re taking a break from all the insanity and spending time without any sports. Watch a movie. Have a quiet dinner together. Do whatever you can but enjoy yourself with your kids.
And lastly, remember that the crockpot can be your friend. You don’t have to kill yourself cooking on top of all the running around and shuttling that you have to do. A slow cooker can help you set up a nutritious meal without having to spend hours slaving behind the steering wheel and over the stove.