Parenting

Why parents hate Daylight Saving Time

Ian writes about the chaotic schedules that follow the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Photo: CraigRJD/iStockphoto.com

At some point in the next couple of days, a cheerful radio host or a helpful grocery store cashier will remind you to turn your clocks back this weekend. And if you have young kids, you will want to punch them square in the jaw.

My sincerest apologies if this blog is the first you’ve heard about the time change for this weekend.

The main problem with the end of Daylight Saving Time is that it usually arrives with little warning. At most, you have a 72-hour advance notice that it’s coming. There is often confusion amongst the masses, with people saying, “This is the first I’ve heard of it. Are you sure it’s this weekend?”

Parents ask that question with a look of panic and desperation in their eyes, because nothing is designed to screw with us more than changing the clocks. We spend weeks — sometimes even months — trying to meticulously get our children on a sleep schedule that works for everyone in the house. And then, the government just rolls into our house, flips the clocks back one hour and destroys everything we’ve done.

And why do they do this?

Because we had a war 70 years ago and we wanted to conserve energy. It certainly made sense during wartime, but many recent studies have shown the benefits of Daylight Saving Time to be inconclusive at best.  

In fact, most farmers oppose the idea of Daylight Saving Time — which is why they don’t observe it in the province of Saskatchewan. The antiquated rules of Daylight Saving Time also don’t apply to the states of Arizona and Hawaii. So if you’re looking to move to a utopian society that doesn’t get bogged down with the clock change, just remember that your three options are Honolulu, Phoenix and Saskatoon.

For a lot of parents, we wrestle with the fact that we have a child waking up at 5:30 a.m. on a daily basis. However, in days following the end of Daylight Saving Time, we now have a child bursting into the room at 4:30 a.m. It’s pure hell for everyone in the house, because there is nothing to do at 4:30 a.m.

There are no shows on TV at that hour, unless you want your kids watching a Ron Popeil infomercial. It’s too cold and dark outside to do anything and besides, nothing will be open for hours. And, oh yeah, everybody is cranky because it’s four-freaking-thirty in the morning.

So you just sit there in this time-induced purgatory for hours until the first crack of daylight emerges.

And that first Sunday when you flip the clock feels like the day that will never end. You’ll go to hockey practice, go grocery shopping, take the kids to a movie, watch a football game, clean the house, renovate a bathroom and cook dinner. Then you’ll look at your watch and realize it’s only 3:30 p.m. Of course you have to double-check to make sure you updated the time on your watch because there is always the obligatory “Did-I-change-this-clock-already?” second-guessing that goes through your mind.

Now, there are many experts who suggest that families can ease into Daylight Saving Time ending, by making small adjustments in the days leading up to the switch. For example, you can move back your schedule by 12 minutes for five days before the change is made. If you usually put your kids to bed at 8 p.m. you can put them to bed at 8:12 the first night, 8:24 the second night and so on — until you’ve adjusted for the extra hour by the time it arrives.  But again, I’ll reiterate a very important point: Most parents don’t realize it’s the end of Daylight Saving Time until it’s too late. And if you have only a day or two to prepare, you can’t do anything to salvage the situation at the last second. This isn’t like cramming for a university mid-term.

Even if you try and put your child to bed one hour later on Saturday night, it doesn’t matter. The child wakes up at the same time every morning — like clockwork. And that’s exactly the problem, because now the clocks have changed.

If parents had a choice to opt out of Daylight Saving Time, I’m sure we would all take it. In fact, I’m certain that if one of the American presidential candidates made the abolition of Daylight Saving Time a campaign promise, they would get all of the undecided swing votes from parents.