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Time Change Tips: Surviving the End of Daylight Savings

 

Think back to your pre-kid life: Likely, you’d anticipate the end of Daylight Savings Time, when you get an extra hour of sleep on a Sunday morning, with a fist pump of joy (at least temporarily, until you realize how dark it gets in the afternoon). As it’s often said, having a baby changes everything, including how you feel about seasonal clock shifts. If you’re like many new parents, you may have spent last week trying to game out how dropping back an hour might affect your own and your little one’s sleep patterns.

 

Does falling back an hour mean the baby gets up earlier, or might she sleep later? Does it affect his naptimes? If you have a toddler, are you doomed to getting up for breakfast and playtime at 5 AM, just when you’d come to terms with your 6 AM wakeup call?

 

The fact is that even a time change this small (it’s just an hour!) can mess with a baby’s circadian rhythm, which is her natural sleep-wake cycle. It’s like a small dose of jet lag. And sleep experts agree that the key to surviving not just the day after the clock change but the potentially confused week after, as everyone adjusts to the new normal, is to pre-plan (best bet is to spend the week before the time change shifting your baby’s sleep times forward 10 to 15 minutes per day to compensate).

 

Think it’s too late (pun intended) to make the early days and weeks after a time shift easier on the whole family? It’s not! Here are some tips to ease the transition:

  • Try room darkening: If you don’t already have the means to keep the baby’s room dark, consider room-darkening shades, so that earlier-morning sunshine won’t trigger wakefulness.
  • Leave the baby in her crib for a few minutes if she wakes super early: If you got lucky with a baby who stays content in her crib upon waking, let her stay there for 10 or 15 minutes if she wakes earlier than normal in these first post-time-change days.
  • Don’t shift naptime: Keep naptimes, as best you can, at the same times each day. This gives her internal clock a chance to adjust to the actual clock.
  • Get lots of daytime sunlight: Get out in the sunshine at the height of the day. Exposure to light helps all of us adjust our circadian rhythms.
  • Get a kid-friendly sleep clock: It’s not too early to teach your toddler or preschooler about the “right” times to be sleeping versus awake. A child-friendly clock that displays a moon when he’s meant to be sleeping, and a sun when it’s wake time is a fun way for him to adapt to a shifted schedule.

    It Takes a Village: Where We Get Parenting Advice

     

    Most of us know the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” And just in case you think it originated with Hilary Clinton’s now decade-old bestseller It Takes A Village, the phrase is far older than that (origins aren’t totally clear but the best guess is that it’s an African proverb). But the sentiment is intact: None of us should fly solo on this parenting thing.

     

    Today’s parents may not have an actual village (it’s been generations now since most families routinely lived either together or in the kind of proximity that allowed for multiple related caregivers). But that doesn’t stop parents from seeking a village. Successive generations of parents have sought parenting wisdom through whatever means available (books, magazines, blogs, message boards, apps).

     

    What remains the same are the questions and the issues parents seek a guiding hand with—sleep and feeding, discipline and education. You could say that the old days of village-oriented childrearing was superior, that our current reliance on smartphones rather than smart grandmothers is leaving us more alone. But that’s too simplistic.

     

    The fact is that no matter what the generation, parents have always needed to reach out for help, to vent about a sleepless crying baby; to ask advice on what to feed; to share tips on, well, everything. How we do it is less important that the fact that we need to do it.

     

    Here’s a look at where the last several generations of parents have looked to create their villages:

     

     

    By the book: After families stopped living in communal spaces, parenting experts emerged on the scene. Science was ascendant in the post-WWII years and into the 1950s and 60s, and parenting became something smart folks thought they could “solve” with some commonsense prescriptions. Dr. Benjamin Spock’s groundbreaking The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care came out in 1946 and it remained a bestseller for decades. His wasn’t the first book parents turned to for advice, but it was arguably the most influential and enduring. You could say that Dr. Spock paved the way for other highly influential advice-peddling parenting books, like the What to Expect series. Before anyone ever thought of going online, and without having a mom or grandmother on the premises to ask questions of, books and parenting magazines filled the village void.

     

    The early internet era: Think about this: right now, there are new moms and dads who never lived in a non-Internet world. But in the early days of whirring modems and AOL, parenting “villages” coalesced on listservs—email messaging groups that must have felt revolutionary to new parents in the 1990s. Imagine how amazing it felt to “meet” like-minded parents, people in the same sleepless trenches as you, all across the country or the world—without leaving home. It was an evolution in sharing, and a revolution in the spread of information.

     

    Websites and message boards: As connecting to the internet got smoother and easier, parenting websites flourished, magazines moved online and blogs overtook the cyber world, creating micro-villages, in a sense. Soon the information street became two-way; not just a place to go for advice, but a place to give and share advice with other moms. Sites like BabyCenter, for example, made it easy for moms-to-be to meet up in message-board groups geared not just to being pregnant, but being the same amount of weeks pregnant. Groups that began when the members’ babies were no bigger than lima beans remained active through pregnancy, the newborn period, and deep into baby and childhood. The village got both bigger, and at the same time micro-targeted. Newer sites like Bundoo and others take it a step further, not just connecting parents with each other, but giving them 24/7 online access medical and parenting experts.

     

    The upshot? It still takes a village. It’s just that now, your villagers are everywhere.

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