The autumn time-change can be a real nightmare for some families as it often takes weeks to stop little ones getting up early when 6am becomes 5am!
Some parents just resign themselves to being woken early until spring when the clocks go forward. Well, this never need happen again if you follow this simple plan to take you through the weekend when the clocks go back!
If your child is already in the habit of early rising, this may not work. There might be other things you need to do in addition*. The aim is to get your child so exhausted over the weekend that they finally sleep later than usual, resetting the body-clock. You can then reset their bedtime based on how much sleep they need each night.
Friday Night Â– Stay up 2-3 hours later than usual!
Don't give your child dinner at dinner time, give them a snack then give them a bath. Get them dressed in clean fresh clothes and take them out for dinner! Remember to take plenty of things to keep them occupied Â–they're going to be tired, so if they get bored they'll get cranky. Keep them awake on the journey home (windows down, music up) and then get them back in the bath if you need to kill a bit more time. Go through your usual bedtime routine and put them to bed 2-3 hours later than normal. The older they are, the later you will need to keep them up. They won't sleep any later the next morning, but they will probably be a bit over-tired and grumpy by tea time. If your child usually has a sleep in the day, wake them up after half an hour or so.
Saturday Night Â– Stay up 1.5-2.5 hours later than usual
Almost the same as the first night, but don't take them out for dinner Â– this could potentially be awful as they're going to be pretty over-
tired. Instead, go out to play or go trick-or-treating! It will be dark so make it even more fun by playing in the park by torch-light. Have dinner when you get home and then give them a nice long bath and get ready for bed as usual. Bedtime is 1.5-2.5 hours later than usual depending on their age. Again, they won't sleep any later the next morning and it will feel worse as the clocks will have gone back at 2am! But don't worry, there is a light at the end of this tunnel of sleep deprivation. Limit any naps to 50% of the usual time.
Sunday Night Â– Stay up 1-1.5 hours later than usual
Tonight things go pretty much back to normal. Dinner can be a bit later than usual, with a bit of playing afterwards so that bedtime can be slightly later than usual. Your little treasure may have turned into an over-tired monster, but as a result will sleep later on this third morning. You can now breathe a sigh of relief as their body clock has been reset! Hooray!
The Following Week
It is helpful to make a bedtime 30-45 minutes later than you would normally for the next few days and then on Wednesday or Thursday, go back to their usual bedtime. This helps to stop them falling back to their spring/summer wake-up time. On average, children aged between 3 and 8 years need 11-12 hours' sleep per night. 8-11 year-olds need around 10-11 hours' sleep. Set each child's bedtime based on how many hours' sleep that individual child needs, and work backwards from when you want them to wake in the morning. This can sometimes mean that younger children go to bed a little later than older children, but it is worth it if it means that everybody wakes around the same time and nobody is over-tired as a result of being woken by the one little person who doesn't need as much sleep.
Resetting your children's body-clocks is fun, so enjoy it!!! Spread the word and meet up with your friends in the park, wearing head-torches and carrying lanterns!