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3 Ways To Help Your Kids Cope With the End of Daylight Savings

Photograph by Twenty20

My mama brain works month by month. I know what I need to do this month and when I turn the calendar to next month, I get organized with that next lot of days. Problem is, Daylight Savings Time ends on November 1st this year. Right when I flip the calendar. That means I did zero prep to help our family ease into the time change!

I'm crossing my fingers I'm not the only gal who forgot this annual "holiday." We're all in the same boat, right?

To recap the essentials for 2015: Daylight Savings Time ends at 2am on Sunday, November 1st. That means we "fall back" one hour to take advantage of daylight hours as we move into the winter months. Falling back means you and I gain an extra hour of sleep Saturday night. It also means we have a week of fun helping our kids adjust to the time difference!

RELATED: Our Sleep Expert Answers Your Questions About Daylight Savings Time

One hour doesn't seem like much of a change for most of the population. I'll confess that I personally don't have a strict bedtime. Sometimes I'm tucked into bed at 10 pm and other nights it is pushing 1 or 2am before I call it a night. I ebb and flow enough that one hour won't throw my internal clock too much. But my kids? They're a different story!

Here are three ways you can help your kids cope with the time change:

CONTROL THE LIGHT

Falling back means the sun will both set earlier and rise earlier. Had you and I prepped ahead of time for this change we could have adjusted our sleep cycles the week before, 15 minutes at a time, but since we didn't we are now in recovery mode. The best way to cope is to control the light.

In our modern society we don't fully rely on sunlight to mark the time and thus we can follow the sun's cues and darken our lives earlier to prepare for bedtime or brighten them earlier to prepare our bodies to wake. Eliminate screen time after dinner—all TV, tablets and phones— turn down the lights, and rely on soft glow like lamps and candles. I have even gone as far as placing blackout curtains in my kid's rooms to shut out any light and mimic night time whenever I deem it bedtime. For morning, go the same route, slowly introduce light and sound even if it is still dark outside. A HappyLight and the bird chirping setting on a sound machine are our favorite morning helpers.

Know that this week will have challenges. You're going to feel off and your kids will too.

HAVE GRACE

Know that this week will have challenges. You're going to feel off and your kids will too. This might mean short tempers and general angst among the whole family. Have a conversation with your kids first thing in the morning and lay down a law of grace.

You can say something like, "Mama knows we are all tired. It's because our bodies are adjusting to winter. We are going to work together to get through this week and make the best of it! What are some ways you can be a good listener and extra kind while we adjust to a new sleep routine?" I'm constantly amazed at how well my kids respond to adult-type conversations. They need to see where I'm struggling. They want to help me. Sometimes all I need to do is ask and follow up with gentle reminders.

RELATED: The Five Stages of Parent Exhaustion

EMBRACE NAP TIME

As a work-at-home mom nap time is a luxury I fully embrace. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to forgo the napping guilt and promote nap time with me! When our morning crashes, we all crawl into bed for quiet time and can reset our day upon waking.

If you can't have an official rest time, you can still focus on the peace associated with naps. Play calm classical music when you pick your children up from school and teach them a simple four-count breathing exercise to help them center themselves when they feel over stimulated or tired. Giving our little ones tools to manage their emotions, caused by sleepiness or otherwise, makes a big difference.

And the best advice? Mark your calendars for Daylight Saving Time 2016 and prepare AHEAD of time instead of coping post spring ahead/fall back like me!

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