Daylight saving and the act of springing clocks ahead one hour is almost here. This March 12th, 2017 event has many parents shaking their heads in dreaded discontent. It is only a sixty minute time difference to one’s schedule, but when parents are dealing with children ranging in age from newborns to teenagers it has the power to derail a household.

Why does it exist?

Daylight Saving is actually a good thing, but try telling that to the mom and dad with a wide awake toddler at 5 am on a weekday morning. According to an article by Popular Mechanics, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is not just a two-day phenomenon occurring in the Fall and Spring. It is actually an eight-month stint in which clocks are adjusted to give us more sunshine and Vitamin D exposure during the evening hours in which we are most active. A great thing to counteract seasonal depression disorder and too much time indoors.  

The author, Dan Nosowitz, stated, “Absent DST, for eight months per year our days would not be structured to enjoy the most sunlight possible.” He discussed how working parents would miss out on sunlight because darkness would occur around the time they got home from the office after a typical 9am-5pm workday. The same can be said for children in after-school activities, as they often arrive home later and would not get a chance to play outside due to the sun’s early evening disappearance. 

Nosowitz went so far as to make this declaration of DST, “It is a human attempt to force our lives to fit the natural world in a more sensible way, to lifehack ourselves into a pattern of living that benefits our minds and bodies. DST is both a rebellion against the clock and an acceptance that we are all slaves to the clock.”

Daylight Saving Time takes a lot of heat for being a strange and disruptive practice, but on the whole it is a basic way for people to enjoy more outdoor time and to be less constricted by darkness.

Ways parents can prepare

Kids thrive on structure, therefore it is inevitable that a time change is going to cause some stress to a household’s routine. It is important to remember that in a week’s time (or less), most every member of the family will be used to the new clock.

There will, of course, be a few chaotic days of sleepiness because bedtimes do not seem legitimate and wake-up calls appear to be displaced. However, it is important to always remember that these confusing days surrounding DST will be short-lived and that the drawbacks pale in comparison to the benefit of longer evening hours filled with sunlight.

Daniel Lewin, Ph.D., associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. was quoted in an article for Parents.com saying, “The time change can cause such short-term changes in your child’s mood, but your understanding and support will help him or her adjust a little better.”

 

Blackout curtains in a little one’s bedroom during the days, weeks, or even months ahead of daylight savings can help soften the blow of morning disorientation. If a child’s room is consistently dark for sleeping, the change in the clock should not matter quite as much when it comes to going to bed or waking up in the morning. 

Meal times should also be subtly adjusted before DST hits. The overindulging on snacks needs to be avoided so that parents do not find themselves in the position of being constantly asked for granola bars or treats within the same hour of mealtime. Just as kids should not over do it on the snack eating, parents must be careful to avoid the late in the day caffeine splurge.  

Going without an extra kick of caffeine and changing what is already a strategic schedule sounds miserable, but it will all help in getting a family ready to enjoy the many things Daylight Saving has to offer.

Enjoying Daylight Savings Time

Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time can be uncomfortable, but celebrating it can be fun. The longer evenings give families more time to play in their backyards and go on neighborhood walks after a day of work, school, and play. It is important to capitalize on these opportunities when the weather permits because it will make the clock change much more bearable.
Here are a few quick suggestions to help families celebrate Daylight Saving Time:
  • Try eating dinner in the evening on the patio, picnic style. Being outside with the fresh air is good for everyone’s appetite and also keeps the falling crumbs outdoors.
  • Have a bedtime snack with the kids in their tree house or on the deck. The sun sets later, so there are many more minutes of outside time to squeeze into a family’s day. Eating a snack in one’s yard also lessens the mess, so bring on the popsicles, s’mores, and sticky peanut butter celery sticks. 
  • Take some time to enjoy and reflect on a beautiful sunrise. The sun rises later with DST, so parents can watch for it while enjoying a cup of coffee before the chaos of the day takes hold. Nosowitz’s article even outlined how DST leads to less crime, more outdoor activity in the evenings, less screen time indoors, and the potential for savings on energy costs. So while parents may cringe at the thought of adjusting their morning and evening schedules by an hour, it really is a wonderful thing in the long run. Daylight Saving Time means more sunshine, more playtime, and more reasons to get outside with loved ones.