USAA Member Community Time Change and Toddler.jpg

Time Changes. In my house these two words are dreaded, despised and trigger visions of a toddler zombie apocalypse. My carefully concocted and coerced toddler sleep schedule is thrown for a major loop. Envision tantrums and crying (and not just from me!) sleep regression and naps lost. In my desperation to keep some normalcy to our routine during a time change, I read all that I could about easing the transition.


Here are my favorite ideas for adjusting to a time change:


Advanced Preparation:

A week in advance, begin moving bed and nap times forward in ten minute increments. Nap time normally starts at 12:30? Monday is begins 12:40, Tuesday 12:50 etc., until the dreaded time change event arrives. This should make things less painful on that day of change or ease your travel adjustment time (or make a whole week painful?). The same method applies to bedtime.


Seemingly Easy Fixes:

Make sure the toddlers bedroom is very dark so they don’t notice they are going to sleep before the sun goes down or waking up after the sun comes up.

Stick with a relaxing and calming bedtime routine as normal (This apparently works for some angel babies, hoping this could work for mine!) Warm bath, soothing music, 13 thousand books, bribes…


Pretend it didn’t happen:

I found a surprising amount of parents are choosing this method. Powering through the change with no adjustments and hoping for the best. You are brave souls and I hope it works out perfectly! When we travel from Pacific time to Central time I keep my daughter on Pacific time. It makes things a little more difficult to plan, but cuts out lots of tears and lost sleep time.


My Plan:

Start creeping bed time forward by a few minutes each night. The morning of time change/trip, celebrate the extra hour of sleep by having donuts for breakfast (do not give sugar to toddler- because nap will be an hour later and you don’t want a sugar crash- eat them in pantry where you also hide the cookies). After church, play ring around the rosy, tag and have a jumping jack contest to sufficiently wear out my child helping me trick her into nap at the usual time. Pray she still sleeps for two hours. Repeat process before bedtime. Celebrate with a pint of ice cream (again no ice cream for toddler- only mom and dad).



Give you and your toddler ample time to adjust. For the time change, it would be nice if we could all go to bed an hour earlier and pretend our precious little ones will sleep an hour later, but that most likely will not happen. Just know each day will get a little bit easier and the whole family will eventually get back into a normal routine (maybe with some extra coffee involved). In my experience, it takes over a week for little ones to adjust to any time changes (travel, day light saving, etc).


How do you and your toddlers cope with time changes or traveling to new time zones in your house?


Some helpful resources:

Fall Back Sleep Tips


About the Blogger:

Briana Hartzell is a Navy spouse, mother to two beautiful girls (3 years and 6 months), a former full time USAA employee and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys that military life and parenthood can bring.


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