Fall Back

In the past, the “Fall Back” time change has been welcomed in our home. Not just because of the extra hour we gain, but because it magically resets the kids’ bedtime, which has a tendency to creep later and later every night. I don't want to place blame, but one parent allows bath time go on and on, gets suckered into one more story, one more sip of water, and one more song ("a really long song!"), and before we know it, seven o’clock is eight o’clock and The Ants Go Marching (all ten of them) is stuck in everyone's head for a week. Unfortunately, the other parent’s brisk and heartless one-story-one-kiss-one-pat-lights-out-not-another-word-or-else routine isn’t enough to hold it at seven o’clock. Probably because the kids request the sucker parent most of the time.

Then daylight savings comes and we’re back on track. While other parents dread the disruption to the daily schedule and complain of kids waking up at the new 5am, we enjoy longer evenings to ourselves with pleasant mornings of kids waking up on their own instead of our having to drag them out of bed at 7:10.

But this year has been different. Bedtime and wake-up have never been better, as expected, but daylight savings has destroyed our afternoons.

Late afternoon is already the trickiest part of the day for us. Alexandra wakes up from her nap and is ready to go outside. Clara is excited to play with her sisters after having endured quiet time all alone in her room, and is especially happy to see that Katherine is home from school. Katherine, who has held herself together in her usual, radiant and well-behaved fashion all day at school, is exhausted and needs down time to, let’s just say, “recharge her kindness”. She doesn’t want to be with anyone, least of all, eager Clara.

After struggling with this dynamic for the first two months of the school year, we finally figured out a carefully coordinated rotation of inside-outside time that met everyone’s needs and got us through from after school to dinner. I’d even say it was enjoyable. Then the time changed, it’s dark by 4:30, and the afternoon is grim again.

We’ve come up with some strategies to help adjust to the change: dinner is now at 5:15 instead of 6, jump roping is allowed in the kitchen, kids are granted access to the art supplies willy nilly (including the glitter on really rough days), before dinner lantern walks around the yard are a special treat for well-behaved children, and one parent gently encourages the other parent to stay on a tighter – and earlier – bedtime schedule (read: takes over at the first sign of delay). There’s no way we (I) would make it from 4:30-8pm every day, but 4:30-6:30 is manageable. 

We're working our way back to enjoyable and I think we'll get there soon. Hopefully before we Spring Forward.

How does the time change affect your routine? How do you deal with the early darkness?