How to 'fall back' with kids and not lose (too much) sleep

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With the end of daylight saving time coming up on November 3rd, many of us will have an extra hour of sleep to look forward to. And while I don't think anyone is complaining about getting more sleep, mamas will often start to worry about how the time change will affect their child's sleep schedule.

Unfortunately, our children's biological clocks don't automatically change with our household clocks, leaving it up to us to help them adjust. But have no fear, there are several ways to help them make the transition without too much disruption to their current schedule.

Here are five ways to prepare your child leading up to the end of daylight saving time:

1. Prepare by shifting you child's entire sleep schedule forward.

I don't want to overcomplicate this, so to keep it simple I'm proposing two different approaches.

Option 1: To prepare for the extra hour, move your child's sleep schedule later (about 10/15 min each day/night) over the week prior so that they feel ready for sleep once we change the clocks. This includes awake time, naps and bedtime. This will also help to prevent your child from becoming over-tired which can affect both the daytime and nighttime sleep cycles.

To give you an example, if your child is currently going to sleep at 7 pm, you can move bedtime later 15 minutes each night to shift their internal clock so that 7 pm doesn't feel like 8 pm once the change hits. So, the week before you are adjusting bedtime but then once we fall back, you still want to end up at your original bedtime (7 pm in this case).

Option 2: If preparing an entire week in advance doesn't seem feasible, you can plan on adjusting your child's schedule the weekend prior in bigger chunks of time.

You would still follow the formula above, but instead of shifting 10-15 min, you would adjust sleep later by 20-25 min over the weekend.

With either of these options you might find that it is hard to keep your baby up later so do your best by exposing them to plenty of light during the day, and trying to keep them stimulated and active (just not with light) in the evening.

2. Anticipate early rising—and be prepared.

If you're moving bedtime later, hopefully your child isn't still waking early, but it is possible this can happen since anytime there is a shift in sleeping patterns, our cycles can feel a bit off. If your child wakes early, try allowing them time in their crib/room to hang out (assuming they don't become upset) and encourage that independent time before getting them up. You also want to make sure their room is completely dark in the morning and that sunlight isn't causing early morning risings.

If your child is a bit older you may want to communicate the change and invest in an okay-to-wake clock which gives the green light once it's time to get up for the day.

3. Be mindful of exposure to sunlight + darkness through the day and evening.

Our body's internal sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) are regulated by light and darkness and heavily influenced by our environment. This is why we often become sleepy once it starts to get dark and many of us wake up with the sun. You can help your child's 24-hour sleep cycle by exposing them to light once you get them up in the morning and throughout the day, with their last sun exposure around 4 pm. If your child's bedtime is typically later (as in past 8 pm), you may want to consider moving it up slightly since their body will likely become tired earlier as a natural result of having darkness earlier.

4. Get enough sleep before the time change.

I would recommend holding off on sleepovers or any major travel if you can help it before we "fall back." While you can't necessarily deposit sleep into a bank to accrue, lack of sleep can result in chronic over-tiredness which will further the challenge in adjusting to a new sleep schedule.

The more rested your child is leading up to this transition, the better!

5. Be patient and try not to worry.

As we all know, the effects of sleep deprivation impact the entire family. Children are just as confused about the time change as we are, and although our bodies will adjust naturally (eventually), some have a harder time than others. If you notice meltdowns become a bit more frequent after the time change, try and remember that lack of sleep could be the culprit. I encourage you to set aside more quiet time and maybe even an extra nap while you all try to adjust to this new season.

Just remember, you'll get through this time and try not to worry or change anything drastically in order to over-correct sleep. Each year we go through this shift and each year we adjust so remind yourself that it is just another season!

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1. Prepare by shifting you child's entire sleep schedule forward.

I don't want to overcomplicate this, so to keep it simple I'm proposing two different approaches.

Option 1: To prepare for the "fall" back, you can move your child's sleep schedule later (about 10/15 min each day/night) over the week prior so that he feels ready for sleep once we change the clocks. This includes awake time, naps and bedtime. This will also help to prevent your child from becoming over-tired which can affect both the daytime and nighttime sleep cycles.

To give you an example, if your child is currently going to sleep at 7 pm, you can move bedtime later 15 minutes each night to shift her internal clock so that 7 pm doesn't feel like 8 pm once the change hits. So, the week before you are adjusting bedtime but then once we fall back, you still want to end up at your original bedtime (7 pm in this case).

Option 2: If preparing an entire week in advance doesn't seem feasible, you can plan on adjusting your child's schedule the weekend prior in bigger chunks of time.

You would still follow the formula above, but instead of shifting 10-15 min, you would adjust sleep later by 20-25 min over the weekend.

With either of these options you might find that it is hard to keep your baby up later so do your best by exposing her to plenty of light during the day, and trying to keep her stimulated and active (just not with light) in the evening.

2. Anticipate early rising—and be prepared.

If you're moving bedtime later, hopefully your child isn't still waking early, but it is possible this can happen since anytime there is a shift in sleeping patterns, our cycles can feel a bit off. If your child wakes early, try allowing her time in her crib/room to hang out (assuming she doesn't become upset) and encourage that independent time before getting her up. You also want to make sure her room is completely dark in the morning and that sunlight isn't causing early morning risings.

If your child is a bit older you may want to communicate the change and invest in an okay-to-wake clock which gives the green light once it's time to get up for the day.

3. Be mindful of exposure to sunlight + darkness through the day and evening.

Our body's internal sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) are regulated by light and darkness and heavily influenced by our environment. This is why we often become sleepy once it starts to get dark and many of us wake up with the sun. You can help your child's 24-hour sleep cycle by exposing her to light once you get her up in the morning and throughout the day, with her last sun exposure around 4 pm. If your child's bedtime is typically later (as in past 8 pm), you may want to consider moving it up slightly since her body will likely become tired earlier as a natural result of having darkness earlier.

4. Get enough sleep before the time change.

I would recommend holding off on sleepovers or any major travel if you can help it before we "fall back." While you can't necessarily deposit sleep into a bank to accrue, lack of sleep can result in chronic over-tiredness which will further the challenge in adjusting to a new sleep schedule.

The more rested your child is leading up to this transition, the better!

5. Be patient and try not to worry.

As we all know, the effects of sleep deprivation impact the entire family. Children are just as confused about the time change as we are, and although our bodies will adjust naturally (eventually), some have a harder time than others. If you notice meltdowns become a bit more frequent after the time change, try and remember that lack of sleep could be the culprit. I encourage you to set aside more quiet time and maybe even an extra nap while you all try to adjust to this new season.

Just remember, you'll get through this time and try not to worry or change anything drastically in order to over-correct sleep. Each year we go through this shift and each year we adjust so remind yourself that it is just another season!

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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For new mamas back to sitting behind their desks at work some six weeks (or fewer) after their babies are born, the institutionalized parental leave policy in Denmark is the stuff of daydreams: Over in that Scandinavian paradise, parents are granted 52 weeks of paid leave to divide between them.

There's no denying this is much, much better than the state of parental leave in the United States, but it isn't quite as perfect as it seems from the outside. According to Denmark's Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, women take an average 93% of leave allotted to couples. And when they do return to work, mothers' wages suffer both in comparison to men and women without children.

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The good news is that it seems the solution to this gender income gap is something we—the mothers of today, even here in America—can do something about.

A new paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research that examined Danish administration information from 1980 to 2013 found the motherhood penalty “creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run," which is comparable to the gap in the United States.

What's more, the income discrepancy only increases for each child a family in Denmark has: If a woman has four children, her income is only $0.60 to every dollar a man makes—10 years down the road.

While this indicates paid parental leave alone may not be the panacea for the gender income gap, the researchers suggest that changing the way we think about roles in the workplaces and homes could help—at least when it comes to the next generation.

“As a possible explanation for the persistence of child penalties, we show that they are transmitted through generations, from parents to daughters (but not sons)," the researchers note, explaining that the more a daughter's mother worked while the girl was growing up, the less the daughter's income was affected when she became a mother.

“Women tend to adopt a balance of paid work and childcare that is correlated with the one they saw their mother strike when they were growing up," Henrik Kleven, a Princeton economist and the paper's lead author, tells Quartz At Work.

What this looks like in practice is splitting household responsibilities from the get-go and encouraging fathers to take more leave. (In Sweden, where fathers are penalized for not taking advantage of paternity leave, women's earning rose an average 7% for each month of leave that men took.)

According to the State of the World's Fathers' report, produced by Promundo (a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality in partnership with Dove Men+Care) 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands want to take paternity leave, and yet less than 50% of fathers take as much time as their country's policy allows, and social norms, financial pressures and a lack of support from their managers are all factors.

The report also found that if fathers are able to do just under an hour of unpaid work per day, mothers can cut their unpaid labor time by the same amount.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, told Motherly.

This may help shift us toward more income equality today—and, as the research shows, our daughters will really be able to reap the benefits.

[A version of this post was first published January 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Each day, licensed clinical social worker Ofra Obejas has appointments with a number of parents—with the idea that this is a designated time for them to decompress, turn their attention inward and concentrate on the counseling session. Yet, Obejas says she has noticed a disappointing trend: Many clients don't disconnect for that brief period.

"Parents have sat in therapy session with me and checked every time their phone alerted them, 'In case that's my kid calling me,'" she tells Motherly. "The smart device allows parents to never be away from the child."

Unlike in generations past, today's parents can be always "on" due to everything from high-tech baby monitors to a stream of pictures and updates sent to their phones. That's what we at Motherly have termed "continuous parenting," and the risk is it not only sets parents up for fatigue, but also sends children unhealthy messages about their own boundaries.

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The answer isn't to erase our kids from our minds every so often—because that simply isn't possible. But we can benefit from making the effort to step back from actively "parenting" every now and then.

Parents spend more time than ever with their kids

According to a recent study from The Economist, American moms now spend twice as much time with their children compared with women 50 years ago. That works out to be an average of 125 minutes per day of devoted mom-child time. (Kudos to dads, too: Since 1965, they have tripled the time spent with their kids. It's now up to an average of 59 minutes daily.)

Experts credit this to increasingly flexible work schedules and options to punch in from home. Likely also at play is the fact that the newest generation of moms and dads are embracing the duty like few before, with 99% of millennial parents reporting they truly love parenting.

We're leaning into parenting—but are we overdoing it?

It's one thing to identify first and foremost as a parent and take pride in that role. It's another thing, however, to confuse our sense of worth with our children's accomplishments, which is something former Stanford University dean of freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims says was commonplace among the parents she encountered.

"When I ask parents why they participate in the overprotection, overdirection, hand-holding frenzy, they respond, 'So my kid can be happy and successful,'" she writes in How to Raise an Adult. "When I ask them how it feels, they respond, 'Way too stressful.'"

This constant investment in children's lives can take a toll on the parent-child relationship when the parent doesn't take time for him or herself, too. "The parents feel that they 'sacrificed' their own time for the benefit of the child, even though during much of that time there was no direct engagement with the child," Obejas says of those hours spent shuttling kids around town or waiting outside the doctor's office. "The parents' own emotional and mental cup becomes empty, and when the child asks for more attention, the parents feel like they have already given enough."

The expectation of constant contact 'is draining for the brain'

Even outside the category of helicopter parents, the expectation that we should constantly know what our children are doing is problematic. "'Always on alert' didn't start with children," says Obejas. "It started with devices and apps designed to be addictive. It overtaxes our fight or flight response and leads to toxic stress when levels of cortisol and adrenaline don't ever subside."

Compared with the days when it was the norm for kids to roam free until the streetlights came on, it's commonplace today for parents to expect regular updates of their kids' exact whereabouts either by texts or GPS tracking tools.

"While this can be a safety backup, it increases the type of hypervigilance we know is draining for the brain," says Urszula Klich, licensed clinical psychologist and president of the Southeast Biofeedback and Clinical Neuroscience Association. "[This] can also cause incredible anxiety as parents hear and read things they wouldn't normally be subject to, that is, let's face it, a normal part of kids growing up."

Roles have reversed

Not so long ago, parents would go to the store or out on a date only with the faith that everything was fine at home. Now? That's almost unthinkable—as we've instead shifted to the mentality that our children or their responsible caregivers should be able to contact us at any given moment. Despite the good intentions at play here, this comes at an expense.

"In what other job do you never get a break? It is truly exhausting to never get to turn off the parent brain," says LMHC Jasmin Terrany, author of Extraordinary Mommy: A Loving Guide to Mastering Life's Most Important Job.

Driving this is the trend toward maternal gatekeeping, which describes the subconscious desire to micromanage child care even when someone else is perfectly capable of holding down the fort. As uncomfortable as this may feel, it's healthiest for everyone when parents can hand over the reigns on occasion.

"We must have regular practices to refuel," Terrany tells Motherly. "We don't need to feel guilty about taking this time for ourselves—our kids will not only learn that self-care is essential, but when we are good, they will be good."

This is also how we let our children know another adult can attend to their needs, which is an important step in fostering their sense of independence and confidence. As Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, previously told Motherly, "Let your partner actually figure it out on their own and know that the system survives even when you are not there."

Being 'always on' can degrade quality time, too

Much of being "always on" is a two-way street: Not only do we bring our children into our work days and social lives, but we also bring other obligations home with us in the form of emails sent to our smartphones and mid-playtime breaks to check social media.

"Our children need us, the parents to be 'there,'" says Tom Kersting, licensed psychotherapist and author of Disconnected: How To Reconnect Our Digitally Distracted Kids. "They need us to talk to them, play with them and be present with them. This is literally impossible if we are multitasking between the iPhone and our interactions with them."

As expert as we may consider ourselves at multitasking, there is also something to be said for setting boundaries. "In today's world it's become difficult not to carry that phone around you all the time, even more so when your job is tied to it," says Klich. "Set boundaries for yourself for when you will check, even if it's once an hour, and stick to that making it clear to the kids what you are doing and why."

And when we're away from the kids, remember this hack: Calls from favorite contacts can still come through when you're on do not disturb mode. So tell your partner or your babysitter or your kids to call if it's a true emergency—and then allow yourself to go off the clock. You'll be better for it.

[This post was first published June 25, 2018.]

News

When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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