So. The clocks go back tonight. Or is it forward? I always forget.
Once upon a time, I had a little phrase to help me remember: ‘spring back, fall forward’ but then I got confused and thought it could just as well be ‘spring forward, fall back’. As Libby Purves excused her lack of solar expertise on Radio 4’s Midweek the other day, ‘I did humanities.’ I’ll second that.
Anyway. The clocks change tonight.
Part of my reason/excuse for not remembering if it’s forward or back is quite possibly due to the fact that, since the arrival of my little darlings, the change from summer to winter time makes not a blind bit of difference.
‘Oooh,’ squeal excited folk, (often without kids), ‘the clocks are changing – an extra hour in bed.’
‘Oooh,’ I retort, trying very hard to sound pleased for them and not in the slightest bit bitter, ‘how lovely for you.’ An extra hour in bed? About as likely in this house as a half-eaten bar of chocolate.
Because my boys, whilst mostly lovely, have never been great at staying in bed. True, they’re not bad at all at the bed-going process, but once asleep they struggle to stay abed for any significant time. Sleep is viewed as ‘wasted playtime’, star gazing is far more popular than snoring and if they are still asleep at anything with a 7 (or in pre-school days a 6) in it, it is either a miracle or they are probably sick.
When they were tiny, and I was still under the delusion that I could somehow change their nocturnal tendencies, I would anticipate the time change with alternately excitement and dread.
When the clocks went forward, I could revel in being somehow ‘normal’.
‘Oh yes,’ I could join in at convivial coffees, ‘my boys stay in bed until 7am’. This unusual sensation would last a couple of days, before we’d somehow revert back to ‘please let them sleep til after 6’ type.
When the clocks went back, however, I would plan the forthcoming change with Quartz precision. ‘So,’ I would dictate to my sleep deprived self, ‘if I put them to bed an hour later the night before, then surely they might just possibly-pretty-please sleep in for just a teeny bit longer on the day.’ It didn’t work. I tried 1,2,3, and then unlimited, extra hours of staying awake in the desperate hope that it might have some kind of effect. To my eternal disappointment, the late nights had zero impact on my regular as clockwork kids. After too late nights and too early morns, the FOB and I on the other hand, were absolutely exhausted.
Now some ten years later, I have finally worked out how to approach the changing times. I have discovered the secret of the extra hour. What I do is… go to bed an hour earlier.
So, if you are able to re-programme your offspring and somehow wangle that extra hour in bed tomorrow morning, then I have nothing but admiration for you and trust you’ll enjoy your kip. In this house however, we’re off to bed now, the clocks will stay put until we all get up, and tomorrow will just be a very long day.