Daylight Savings Time During a Pandemic: 5 Things To Keep in Mind as we “Fall Back”

By Inda H. Brink, LMFT

It’s that time again! When we visit other parts of the country or of the world we seem to remember we will need a day or two to adjust to the new time zone. Eating and sleeping patterns will be affected for some. But when we are at home and it happens, we forget how long it can take to adjust. This Fall we will be getting back the hour that we gave up in the Spring. However, we are now in the midst of a pandemic, and still distance learning while working from home, so there is quite a bit of stress on top of everything. Many of our therapists here at Child & Family Counseling Group are noticing families are just exhausted. Now, there’s one more issue to add. Let’s conquer it by being prepared!

Use HALT to prepare for the end of Daylight Savings Time

H: Hunger - Is your child hungry? When the time changes your child’s hunger needs time to adjust. They’ll think that something is off because their schedule may not match their hunger level. Sometimes a light snack can help to curb their hunger and the tendency to get “hangry.”

A: Anger - For some when there is a change in their sleeping times they often become irritable. When this happens power struggles can ensue more frequently. Therefore, choose your battles wisely. Ask yourself, “How can we figure this out without getting into an argument?” Also, your child could be feeling sad. They are grieving what the pandemic has taken from or changed for them. If you think that your child is angry or sad, connect with them by asking what are they feeling. By giving it a label it can help them to explain what they are feeling and not feel alone.

L: Lonely - Sometimes kids act out because they want someone to spend time with them. Instead of asking to spend time with the parent, they’ll do something parents can’t ignore. Instead, spend one-on-one time together by playing a game, cooking together, or doing something your child enjoys. Together make a list of things to enjoy this time of year. Connection is what they are asking for.

T: Tired - Our bodies have internal clocks and they need time to adjust to daylight savings time. Some kids need more time to adjust than others. Reflecting on the start and end of Daylight Savings Time, sleep disorder specialist at the Mayo Clinic Dr. Lois Krahn explains, “We know that it does disrupt sleep and one hour does not seem like a big deal, but when you look at the research data, it is a big deal.”

Last, our favorite stress-relieving activities might not be available due to the pandemic. For example, getting together with friends in person and having a good laugh. Therefore, parents need to help their children to find new ways to let off steam. Laughter is one way to combat stress that can help. Families need to laugh together. Watch a funny movie, tell “dad” jokes. However, don’t use sarcasm; that can actually hurt the relationship because most kids don’t understand it.

Remember, the pandemic won’t be here forever but the memories that you share will.

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