The 5 Stages of Daylight Saving Time

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According to Wikipedia, Daylight Saving Time was first proposed by a guy in New Zealand who wanted more daylight hours to collect bugs, and was popularized by governments hoping to cut down on coal and oil use. That’s the official line, anyway. My theory is that it’s all part of a vast conspiracy by sinister secret societies who want to keep the citizenry oppressed so that they can carry out their nefarious plans. After all, a people cannot revolt if they’re using all their mental energy to try to figure out what time it is.

With four kids under the age of seven, I am particularly impacted by this scourge. I live and die by our daily schedule, and being sleep deprived is my default state. Which is why in my house I refer to Daylight Saving Time—which throws my schedule into chaos and costs me sleep—as Daylight Insanity Time. In fact, each year I go through five distinct psychological states, ranging from anger to confusion, before I can finally come to terms with what happens to us the second Sunday of every March. As an aid to others who twitch every time they hear a chirpy reminder that “it’s time to spring forward!”, I present to you the Five Stages of Daylight Saving Time:

1. Anger

It’s best if I don’t leave the house for the few days leading up to the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. This weekend I was at the grocery store and the cheerful checkout lady announced in a sing-songy voice, “Don’t forget that we lose an hour of sleep this weekend!” When I found myself resisting the urge to jump across the conveyor belt, grab the nice lady by the collar, put my bloodshot eyeballs right up against hers and hiss in my best villain voice, “I DON’T HAVE THAT HOUR TO LOSE, WOMAN,” I knew that the first stage of my reaction to Daylight Saving Time had begun.

This is also when my conspiracy theories grow more elaborate, and I make the other mommies at playdates uncomfortable as I interrupt tea and cookie time to manically list out the details of my plans for a citizen’s revolt against the time change.

2. Denial

Every year I try to find a loophole that would prevent me from observing the time change. I’ve tried to have my home declared part of Arizona, but the powers that be in the City of Austin seem to be part of the Daylight Saving Time conspiracy. And no matter how many connections I draw between the Catechism’s statements on avoiding near occasions of sin and the impact resetting the clocks has on my life, there is, as it turns out, no procedure for opting out of Daylight Saving Time due to religious objection.

I have considered standing strong and refusing to change my clocks as a bold statement. I imagine myself sending emails to friends that pointedly state: “See you at 6:00 on Friday! (I guess that would be 7:00 your time, since you’re one of the DST people.)” Usually this is where my husband gently indicates that that might not be the best thing for my relationship with my friends, and nudges me on to the next stage, which is ...

3. Confusion

In the days before and after Daylight Saving Time, my husband and I have a lot of conversations that go something like this:

HIM: What time did we decide to make the kids’ bedtime now that we changed the clocks?
ME: Nine.
HIM: Nine o’clock old time or new time?
ME: Umm…
HIM: I think we should make it nine o’clock new time.
ME: Okay. Then that means that they’re going to bed later or earlier than they used to?
HIM: Let’s see, they used to go to bed at eight-thirty …
ME: Eight-thirty on old time or new time?
HIM: Old time.
ME: Oh, right. So … if they’re going to bed at nine o’clock new time, then, by old time they’ll be going to bed at ten.
HIM: No, that’s wrong, they’d be going to bed at eight on old time.
ME: [My head explodes, abruptly ending conversation.]

I got good grades in college. I don’t typically think of myself as being a mental vegetable. But I cannot wrap my mind around Daylight Saving Time. I am like a monkey with a Rubik’s Cube as I sit down to try to figure out how to adjust the kids’ schedules the first night after we’ve changed the clocks. This phase lasts a couple of weeks, until I move into…

4. Accusation

This is similar to the anger stage, only by now I have very reluctantly gone ahead and changed my clocks, and have temporarily abandoned my plans for civil unrest. But Daylight Saving Time is now my excuse for everything that goes wrong in my life. Ten minutes late to a doctor’s appointment? Daylight Saving Time. Missed a deadline (by, oh, three days)? Daylight Saving Time. A mysterious rash on my hand? Obviously caused by Daylight Saving Time.

I have now come to a certain peace that at least I have identified the source of all the woes in my life.

5. Acceptance

Alas, I finally come to terms with the new time. I’ve stopped loudly lamenting the fact that my children won’t go to bed before 9:00 because the sun is still out, and I can answer the simple question of “What time is it?” without launching into a manifesto. It usually takes me about 34 weeks to get to this place.

And then it’s time to change the clocks again.


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