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A parent rages against daylight savings time

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| November 14, 2020 1:00 AM

Dark forces conspired to align Halloween and the end of daylight savings time in 2020.

Already one of the most exhausting days of the year for parents of young children, this Halloween landed on a Saturday in the midst of a pandemic and expectations to make the holiday feel as “normal” as possible.

The kids stayed up later than usual on Halloween, of course, ignited by a steady stream of festive activities and excessive sugar. By the end of the day, I needed a three-week vacation. I’d have settled for a decent six or seven hours of sleep.

Instead, the stupidity of “rolling back the clock” just had to come around and make things worse.

I’m not a fan of daylight savings time in general, mostly because I prefer there to be sunlight in the AFTERNOON. If it’s cloudy, it feels like it gets dark outside within a few minutes of school ending each day. Kids need this time to burn energy, and so if it’s dark outside, they end up jumping all over my furniture.

I can deal with afternoon darkness, but I can’t handle my 7-year-old son’s biological resistance to the time change. Every day, he wakes up around 6 a.m. no matter what time he went to bed the night before. We use thick curtains to make his room pitch black, and yet nothing can stop the kid from rising at the same time.

It’s hard work keeping him quiet from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., a critical time for his roommate, our 3-year-old son, to get necessary sleep. We’ve conducted extensive training, demonstrating to our oldest son how to open and close the door in near silence and conduct business in the rest of the house without waking up the other three kids. He’s a bit of a blockhead when it comes to following such instructions, so any divergence from the routine can wreak havoc.

Then comes the end of daylight savings time, when, suddenly, 6 a.m. becomes 5 a.m. The kid doesn’t care what the clock says. He wakes up at 5 a.m., and it takes WEEKS of adjustment before he recalibrates to the new sleep schedule.

We try to deprive him of sleep in order to make the adjustment. Keep him up later and he’ll sleep a little longer, right? Wrong. 5 a.m.

Meanwhile, the other three kids can adjust to the change within a couple of days. Our 3-year-old, already exhausted everyday at bedtime because of his recent frequent refusal to take a nap, didn’t seem influenced at all by this time change. If he goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., he’ll want to sleep until about 7 a.m.

BUT. With our 7-year-old up at 5 a.m. instead of 6, it presents an extra hour of opportunity for him to break the agreed-upon noise-reduction protocols.

If we ask him to stay in his bed until 6 a.m., he’ll get bored after five minutes and entertain himself by waking his brother up to chat and play. If we ask him to go upstairs at 5 a.m., he eventually becomes too restless with PBS Kids and starts to pound around the house looking for trouble (and hidden stashes of Halloween candy).

And so before the clock strikes 6, I’ve usually got four kids awake ready to argue about the shows they want to watch and activities they want to do before their school routines. It’s especially challenging because I’ve never been a morning person, and I frequently (stupidly) stay awake most nights until 1 or 2 a.m. I try to provide as much direction and intervention from under my bed covers until about 8 a.m., and so you can probably guess the percentage of quality parenting that goes on in our house most mornings.

It’s been years since I’ve expected a decent night of sleep, and my own hardline habits prevent me from, God forbid, going to bed earlier. I’m so tired that I’m sitting here questioning whether I even understand how daylight savings time works and whether I described the situation accurately. Did we fall back? Spring forward? I DON’T KNOW! Anyway, I made my choice when I decided to have so many kids, and for the most part, the good stuff is worth the sleep deprivation.

Still, I don’t need the forces of evil conspiring against me with something as arbitrary as “fall back.” Fall back to hell, demon time change!

Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and a stay-at-home parent to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.