Most mornings I need two cups of coffee. The morning after daylight savings, I need three. I’m tired today. Daylight Savings Time (DST) is a relatively new concept, about 100 years old. The original intention with DST was to save energy by making better use of sunlight; “fall back” by gaining an hour in fall and “spring forward”, by losing an hour in spring. Either way, Post-DST Syndrome, not an actual syndrome, although as a mom, I think it should be as it reeks havoc for most people, about a week, and no one feels it more than parents and children.
Losing an hour of sleep is disruptive. When we miss out on sleep, we never get it back. So the impact of lost sleep can linger well past one night.
Going into my thirteenth year of mothering, one thing I know, DST will be chaotic for my family this week. Post-DST-Syndrome is slightly more challenging as a parent and will require more time, energy and a lot of patience with myself and my children.
Today, it’s the calm before the storm because tomorrow, we are back at school and work filled with the hustle of morning routines, activities, and bedtime routines.
Loss of sleep can have the following aftereffects: sluggishness, irritability, limited patience, low motivation or less “get up” and go energy, increased appetite and reduced ability to use healthy coping skills. So while can be tempting to reach for more caffeine to boost energy, over this week, it could be helpful to try these seven strategies instead.
Here’s how I survive the changes in Daylight Savings Time with children:
- Perspective. Post-DST is a week of adjustment for my entire family; adults included. Eventually, we will all adjust.
- Plan for More Time. While it can seem impossible to find more time in an already packed schedule, give yourself extra time, even ten minutes, to complete any activity, especially morning and bedtime routines.
- Be Flexible and Make Adjustments. If you and or your child are so tired and irritable, let go of the battle and make accommodations to get through the day; skip an outing or activity, simplify dinner and have left-overs, or make bedtime earlier.
- Increase Self-Care. Make sure you take care of yourself through getting enough sleep, eating foods that give you natural energy without jolting you into anxiety (e.g., caffeine), exercise and other activities you find enjoyable.
- Develop Patience. If you are feeling frustrated or annoyed, take a deep breath. Pause before you respond to a situation. If you can, separate yourself from the stress; the bathroom is a good place to take a break from your child, turn on the fan if they stand outside the door.
- Remember to Breathe. People who are stressed do not breathe deeply or regularly, instead breathing tends to be irregular and shallow.
- Try to Keep a Sense of Humor. Laughter and trying to find the humor in a situation can be a great stress reliever.
This winter has been one for the books, especially in the northeast where I live. It’s been cold and snowy with record-breaking snowfall. I heard one statistic on the radio last week; it could take until July for most of the snow to melt in Boston. I hope the broadcasters were joking.
Even though I miss the hour of sleep and require more coffee to function today, one thing for sure, DST brings me is hope. Hope that beneath the feet of snow, deep in the soil, within the wisdom of the trees, changes are happening, spring is closer, even if we can’t see it now.
Nature is preparing for spring.
DST means we are moving closer to spring and summer, even if it’s a relatively new concept. The days are shifting to more sunlight, which after this winter, it hard not to be excited about this change.
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2015