- Ages: 1.5 and up (solid sleepers)
- Materials: none needed
- Time: 30 minutes to an hour
- Skills: curiosity; connection to nature; positive outlook
- Special date: The first eve of daylight saving time
With the disruptive forces of daylight saving time, most parents get irked and resist whenever our kids’ sleep schedule gets disrupted; who wouldn’t? Casting daylight savings as a problem, however, obscures a real opportunity for us and our kids. This year, try looking beyond the interrupted sleep schedule when springing forward, and embrace the wonderful transition that this day can represent.
First, it’s inevitable, so embracing it seems like a much better response to model than getting all in a bunch. Plus, any family with kids ages 2+ should celebrate the fact that the we now have the daylight we need to give kids a whole hour longer at the playground, park or wherever their afternoon free play flows. Hurrah! And, at the very least, it’s one of two times each year when one can’t help but notice how we experience daylight and our environment—we’d be crazy to ignore or shun such a magic show.
Make a special evening out of the first Sunday night after we "spring forward." Do something to highlight this semi-annual ritual, stressing the light and hope that it brings. Or at the very least, have some fun trying. Here are a series of activities to try:
- Learn about sunset, twilight and dusk, then go check them out—Like us, you may assume these are the same. Turns out, they are quite distinct and happen in this order: sunset (sun disappears under horizon) → twilight (period of light before night falls with stages of relative darkness) → dusk (the end of twilight). If you can get to the woods, a park or the backyard, sit still and watch twilight fade into dusk. It happens so quickly when we are rushing around, not paying attention; we never really notice how beautiful it is.
- ”Fly a kite at night”—Really, you can do any kind of short, fun outdoor activity before dusk falls. For older kids who remember recent days, talk about what time it is and talk about what you were doing yesterday at that time (in the dark!).
- Enjoy a twilight stroll in their PJs!—Finish dinner. Do your bath routine and get ready for bed. Then, throw on your coat, go outside and grab that 25 minutes of twilight sporting your favorite pjs. What little kid won’t find such shenanigans extraordinary good fun?
- Play with your shadows—Our shadows are the longest when the sun is near the horizon line (right after sunrise and right before sunset). Enjoy any one of these ways to play with your shadow as you celebrate the late sunset.
- Play flashlight tag (ages 5+)—If your child is 5+ years old, grab a flashlight and head outdoors. Start playing tag in twilight until you reach the point where it’s hard to see one another. Then, give whoever is “it” a flashlight. He or she will have to use other senses and his flashlight to “tag” the other players. Check out one take on the rules for flashlight tag.
- Learn together about daylight saving time—Read up on how this man-made ritual started and engage in the real, ongoing debate about why we still do it.
How it helps your kids:
This irksome disruption of sleep is actually an incredible opportunity to stop and delight in the cycles of nature. It is also a chance to teach kids not to fight but to revere and make the most of change—habits of mind that will help them navigate life. We are also building a family culture that values celebration, serendipity and, ultimately, fun. Finally, it gives parents the chance to pique kids’ curiosity about the natural and man-made aspects of daylight savings and give them some understanding that will likely only lead to more questions and learning.