a hand reaches for an alarm clock marked 6 a.m.


Daylight Saving Time Is Confusing My Kids and Stressing Me Out and It Needs to Stop

Nov 2, 2018

Being a parent is about making plans, establishing routines and then watching as circumstance gleefully dashes those plans and routines.

And it's only as a parent that the sinister purpose of daylight saving time has been made clear. Like you, I have spent many a dark, dark night wondering why we fiddle with the clocks that rule and dominate our existence.

I have heard just about every justification under the eastern standard time sun. Some say it's a way to save energy, but that's only true geographically according to some researchers — a study out of the University of Ottawa in 2017 found that energy use increased in Alberta during daylight saving, while it decreased in Ontario. 

As far as I'm concerned, antagonizing parents is the only rationale for daylight saving that makes any sense to me at all. And although daylight saving time was originally brought up by entomologist George Hudson in 1895 — because he wanted more daylight time to study insects — I maintain that in its current form it purely serves to frustrate and infuriate parents.

Relevant Reading: Active Minds, Restless Sleep — An Expert's Advice for Making Bedtime Sleep Time

Daylight Saving Time — Because Everyone's Doing It? 

There aren't just other parents who think the way I do. There are entire provinces and states in North America. The sunshine state of Florida is currently pushing to opt out of DST (lawmakers passed a "Sunshine Protection Act" but there's still more that needs to be done), parts of Canada have already opted out and BC premier John Hogan has flirted with a similar move in that province (although, currently B.C. is not moving forward with this idea).  Europeans don’t have much, er, time for DST either. A recent public consultation by the European Commission found 84 per cent of 4.6 million respondents wanted to end the bi-annual clock fiddling. It seems to me there's more than a few rays of non-time managed light on the horizon. But until we get there, daylight saving time is a real inconvenience for so many reasons. 

Daylight Saving is a Great Way to Confuse Your Kid 

Measuring stuff is tricky. I sometimes struggle with a tape measure, and my wife will attest to this fact. And that’s for sizing up a physical object that is actually in front of me.

Measuring time, however, is different, and can be hard for a kid to grasp. Like when your little bundle of joy asks you why they must spend one-hundred-million minutes brushing their teeth or how fast a light year is. 

That’s why it is profoundly unhelpful to monkey around with the clock.

“Yes son," I might say. "This would have been 6 a.m. yesterday but today it is not.”

“No, we aren’t really gaining an hour," I may try to clarify. "We are just moving it from one part of the year to another.”

Daylight Saving Challenges New Parents 

You’ve seen them stroll into the park with their overburdened strollers, wearing pyjama bottoms and puked-on blouses. No one has it easier than a newbie parent! I mean, their precious little cargo can’t even talk, let alone talk back. Babies just coo, cuddle and smile complacently. Their only weakness is the daily routine: naps, nappies and nosh. Daylight saving is a great way to stick it to those folks — those new parents who have it way too easy.

Daylight Saving is Jetlag for the Masses

Now you have kids and you can’t afford to travel. At least not to anywhere you would actually want to go. But you can still experience jetlag! And a Canadian study showed how that feeling of jetlag has been connected to a slight increase in traffic accidents the Monday following the time change

Relevant Reading: How to Create Quality Time With Your Kids When There Is So Little

Daylight Saving Requires You Learn To Pivot

You may know the steps. Where you gradually shift your child’s bedtime earlier by 15-minute intervals over the course of a week. We’ve all likely given it a try. And we’ve all likely given it up. I have mixed results getting my kids to bed at their regular bedtime, and when they're 15-minutes late? My stats rise dramatically. Eventually I recognize this for what it is: I'm creating stress that ultimately hurts more than it helps. 

A final note to parents: Our deliverance is at hand. Perhaps more provinces and more states and more countries will learn what I've learned and feel what I feel. It’s just taking its sweet time.

Article Author Rob Thomas
Rob Thomas

Read more from Rob here.

Rob Thomas is a writer, editor and a work-at-home dad. Brood, a book of poems inspired by his experiences of fatherhood, was launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival in 2014. His journalism has appeared in places such as Ottawa Magazine, the United Church Observer, Canadian Running and on CBC radio and television. He is also a founding member of an Ottawa social club for dads called The Ugly Mothers.

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