Last Sunday morning marked the return of daylight saving time. The phrase “Fall back” used to suggest an extra hour of sleep or additional time to spend at the bar, but now the same term simply infers that I will be up an hour earlier with my kids.
All parents know children could care less about this “extra hour” that we are supposed to have to enjoy.
So when my son woke up Sunday morning at 5:45, instead of his typical 6:45, I was not surprised at all. My daughter woke up shortly thereafter, and we were forced to start our day an “extra hour” early.
By 9 a.m., we felt like we should be well on our way to naptime (any other parents still judge time based on how soon they can get their kids to sleep?). Still, we had a full day ahead of us.
Fortunately, I had a barre class to go to where I could drop off my daughter in child care (yes, I go to the gym and let someone else watch my kids — it is amazing!), and my son had a classmate’s birthday party.
Outside of the early wakeup, the morning was pretty seamless. I thought maybe we got lucky and avoided the curse of daylight saving time for parents.
Then, the crankiness hit with a vengeance! I attempted to go to Trader Joe’s with my daughter after the gym, which is typically a pretty easy errand to run. Today, she started crying because I did not pick the exact shopping cart she wanted, and I knew I was in for it.
As we started up and down the aisles, she screamed for various foods she wanted to eat, yet actually consumed nothing from the four different items I opened in hopes of calming her down. I rushed through as quickly as I could to get what I needed and then headed home.
Once home, I was greeted by my son, who was an equally pissed-off toddler. Nothing we did seemed to make either one of them feel better. In fact, everything we did seemed to piss them off more. So we pushed through until naptime, got a much-needed break while they both slept, and then endured several more hours of crankiness before bedtime.
What the rest of the world seems to forget is that toddlers don’t care about being given an “extra hour” of sleep or an “extra hour” to get stuff done in their day. This “extra hour” just serves to throw them off their schedules enough to make our lives as parents more difficult.
I am aware of all of the advice regarding how to prepare for bedtime before daylight saving time. Start putting your kids to bed incrementally later for three days prior, be mindful of exposure to darkness/light, or just be prepared for the chaos.
All other times of the year, we are told to stick to our kids’ schedules. Toddlers thrive on structure – or so they say! Yet, on this day, we are supposed to be flexible. The issue is, kids do thrive on structure. So when something as simple as an “extra hour” gets thrown into the middle of the night, and our kids’ schedules shift, that can be enough to topple everything.
OK, so maybe I am being a little dramatic about this “extra hour” struggle. Maybe other parents don’t care as much, or their kids are not affected in the same way.
But this year, daylight saving time was rough! Looking back, this was probably just a bad day. It most likely had something to do with the “extra hour” forced into our day, and more with the fact that I am raising a 3.5-year-old and a nearly 2-year-old. They are toddlers, they are human, and they have bad days. “Lucky” for me, they chose the day with the extra hour to have one of those.
Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/ She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.
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