While I realize that daylight saving time (DST) might have been necessary once upon a time, whoever invented it clearly didn't have to deal with keeping a baby or toddler on a sleep schedule. Just when I get my son all acclimated to a strict bed time, the clocks decide to shake everything up. Sure, eventually they get the hang of things, but let's be real, it's not without a trip on the struggle bus first.
It doesn't matter whether we're springing forward or falling back, my toddler will find a way to subsist on the tiniest amount of sleep possible. What is normally mommy's special evening time for a glass of wine and bad TV suddenly becomes a wave of toddler energy that swallows me whole because, according to my son, "If the sun is up, I can be up, too." Uh, no, kid, you can't.
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Thanks to DST, our usual nighttime routine of bath, book, and bed was upended last year. Suddenly, I was chasing a half-naked toddler through the house as he demanded to know why he couldn't go play outside. Frustrated, I didn't want to wait for him to acclimate, so I did what most parents would do: I lied. I spent the next few days trying to convince him that the sun, even though it's still shining away, is really sleepy and is also getting ready for bed. I told him that Mr. Sun was exhausted from a long day and needed his rest. I thought I was so slick, but somehow, me trying to tell him that the sun had feelings and opinions didn't change his mind. He's smarter than I sometimes give him credit for, and he just stared at me with a look that basically said, "Really, mom? Did you seriously just try that on me?" So, I went for a different, arguably worse, tactic.
That's right. When lying clearly didn't work, I tried bribery. It may have gotten him to calm down and get into bed, but it did not make him get to sleep any faster. He spent that hour in his bed, tossing and turning, and mumbling loudly to his stuffed animals. If he knew how to curse, he probably would have been giving me (and the still bright sun) a piece of his mind through his bedroom walls.
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Obviously trying to con or lie to my son to encourage acclimation was not the way to go. There was no shortcut. In about a week, things were back to normal, meaning he was getting the sleep he needed, and I was getting my alone time. Instead of complaining about DST and trying to force him into a new schedule too quickly, I was neglecting the simple idea that what he really needed was time. You can't force someone to be tired (believe me, I tried), so as much as it pains me every year, it's more of a waiting game than anything else.
Hopefully this year, with a little more understanding under his belt, he'll get that just because the sun is up, doesn't mean he gets to stay up, too. If he doesn't, I'm not above covering every window in our house with cardboard. I've tried everything else.
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