As British Summer Time comes to a close, many of us anticipate an extra hour in bed. That is, unless you’re a parent or nanny of a toddler or a baby.
Zarja Cibej, founder of myTamarin nanny agency and mother of two, reflects on this time of year. “Before I had children, I really looked forward to this time. Now, with kids, it’s the day in the year I dread the most.”
It’s not hard to see why. Although you can quite easily turn back the hands of your kitchen clock, your child’s biological clock isn’t as simple. This clock - otherwise known as a circadian rhythm - is hardwired to make sure your child falls asleep and wakes up at the same time every day, so even though your watch says 6.am., your child’s body clock still says 5.
So, how do you cope? We’ve outlined some of our top tips for parents and nannies on how to manage your baby’s and toddler’s bedtime routine when the clocks go back.
1. Stick to your usual routine.
Around this time, many nannies and parents find themselves tempted to readapt their child’s routine, shifting mealtime, play time and bedtime back an hour almost immediately after the clocks change. While it might be simple for adults to adapt to these changes with practically no issue, the same cannot be said for your child. In fact, it’s more likely to confuse them, leaving them out of sync and overtired, paving the way for havoc around bedtime further down the line. For now, stick to what you know. That being said...
2. Make gradual adjustments.
While you could ride it out and wait for your child’s body clock to adjust automatically, the alternative option is to ever so slightly shift your child’s routine, by no more than 15 minutes a day. This will give their body clock the nudge that it needs to nod off sooner without completely throwing it out of sync.
3. Get active in the day...
As nannies and parents know, being active in the day is not only great for your child’s health and wellbeing, it’s also an excellent way to tire them out, helping to make bedtime a breeze. A trip to the park or a woodland walk is a great way to get your littles one out in the fresh air, but if you’re too tired to leave the house (or are simply self-isolating!), this selection of outdoor activities are championed by nannies for helping countless families manage when the clocks go back.
4. … and settle down at night.
It all comes back to the importance of routine. Having a good bedtime routine in place helps to relax your child in the evening, preparing them for rest.
As soon as you feel it’s time for bed, a bubble bath, a book and a glass of warm milk are the perfect combination for helping your child drift off to sleep. We also recommend Lizzie Loves ‘Be Sleepy’ sour cherry sachets, packed with magnesium and melatonin-boosting cherries to have your little one drifting off in no time.
5. Turn off technology.
Phones, laptops and TVs are sleep-killers. Not only do they act as a source of mental stimulation, completely undoing any attempts you would have made to settle your child in the evening, the blue tint of the screen actually depletes the melatonin - that is, the chemical that makes you feel sleepy - in your child’s brain. For quality sleep, turn off all devices an hour before bed - that episode of ‘In The Night Garden’ can wait for tomorrow morning.
6. Use blackout blinds.
If all else fails, blackout blinds might be the option for you. Your children will react to external stimuli, so as soon as the sky starts to get light outside, your child will rise with the sun.
Blackout blinds or curtains are a great way to stop the sunlight from streaming through your little one’s window, keeping your child asleep for a little bit longer. If you have them to hand, make sure you put them to good use.
For parents that need a bit of extra support, myTamarin nannies and sleep experts are here to lend a helping hand. If you find your baby isn’t sleeping at night or is struggling to settle into a nighttime routine, our online newborn support offers regular, professional guidance without the need to bring a sleep consultant into your home. Alternatively, we’ll find you the best night nannies in London, offering support with settling babies and older children into a bedtime routine.
While this time of year can be exhausting, fortunately it won’t be long before your child’s body clock will catch up with the rest of the world. For now, grab your coffee, get outdoors and remember this will all be over in a couple of weeks.
See you at 5.a.m.!
To find out more how we can help you find your next night nanny or newborn expert, sign up here.