Clocks going back: Why it happens and how to help your kids adjust

Clocks going back: Why it happens and how to help your kids adjust

This Sunday 29th October 2017 at 2am, the clocks in the UK will go back by an hour, taking us from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The end of daylight saving time (DST) is usually considered a positive thing, as we 'gain' an extra hour in bed. But for many families in Britain, it presents a bit of a problem: getting children to adjust to that extra hour. Though it's easy to think 'it’s just an hour', this can be enough to disrupt their night and day patterns and, consequently, yours too. With this in mind, we're going to look closely at why the clocks going back is so important and how you can easily manage it to maintain a smooth family routine. Read on to find out more.

Daylight Saving Time: Why all the hassle?

DST was created to do exactly what its name suggests: to ensure that we can make the most of the summer months' extra sunlight hours. By re-adjusting our clocks, we moved forward an hour from GMT without having to make a conscious effort, before reverting back to GMT for the winter. The UK has practiced British Summer Time (BST) since WWI, when the government wanted to give industries like farming an extra hour of daylight to work in during a time of crisis. In recent years, there have been growing calls to scrap BST: 40% of Britons think that the system should be scrapped compared to 33% who think it should continue, according to a 2015 poll by YouGov. You can find out more about DST in our British Summer Time facts blog post. There are arguments both for and against the system. On one side there is the simple fact that we have an extra hour for daylight, allowing businesses more time to thrive and encouraging people to stay outdoors for longer and get more exercise. However, recent studies have exposed potential pitfalls to DST, including a disruption in our circadian rhythm (ScienceDaily) and productivity losses (NY Times). But, with no noises coming from the UK government about the issue, it seems that we will have to continue winding the clocks forward and back for the foreseeable future.

How to prepare your kids for the clocks going back

The first thing you probably think about when it's time for BST to kick in again is the extra hour in bed. Unfortunately, if you've got a baby or a small child, they are most likely going to wake up at their regular time, which will be an hour earlier. Not only will this spoil any plans for a lie in, but it can affect both you and your kids' routines for weeks after. Let's take a look at how you can manage the clocks going back for the benefit of everyone.

Adjust bedtime in the run-up to Sunday morning

One of the most tried and tested ways of preparing young kids for that extra hour is to move bedtime later over the days leading up to the clocks going back. By shifting your baby or child's routines back by 15–20 minutes each day, you can ease them into BST so they can adjust. So, if your kids go to bed at 7.30pm, aim to get that to 8.30pm before Sunday.

For older children, let them stay up later

Older kids are harder to fit into a gradual approach to GMT because they have less flexible schedules. Activities like school, swimming lessons, and playtime are more difficult to rearrange around a shifting bed time. Instead, simply tell them they go to sleep later — billing it as letting them 'stay up late' is a great way of selling the change.

Keep an eye on any family pets

If you have any family pets who are used to being up and about at a certain time, it's worth keeping an eye on them in case they disrupt your kids' rest on Sunday. Many animals, especially dogs, are creatures of habit, and they will bark, snuffle, and scratch to try to keep their appointment with you at the usual time in the morning. Though they're only doing this out of love, the extra noise can disturb babies and young children. Consider letting your pet sleep in your room for the night, or sacrifice your own lie-in to see them early. You can also begin putting your pet to bed later in increments so they can adjust, similar to the method described for your children. That brings an end to our advice on helping your family adjust to going back to Greenwich Standard Time. Follow our advice and you and your children will be able to enjoy an extra hour in bed with no effect on your daily routine on Sunday. If you have any questions or would like some advice about kitting out your child’s bedroom, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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