Everyone hates changing the clocks, right?
I’ve found it to be so hard on the little ones—for a solid week after the time change, my little boys tend to be not tired when they should be or they’re very tired and I’m trying to keep them up for just one more hour. It messes with naptime and bedtime and the morning routine, and I’m always grateful when that week comes to an end, because we’re usually all back on track by that time.
But one thing I really love about the time change in the fall is the early darkness. We have quiet time until around 5 p.m. (naptime for the baby and a snooze on the couch for myself as well; quiet play and/or a movie for the middle kids; homework for the big kids), and by that time, after the Fall Behind, the house has darkened, and the first I thing I do when I get up from the couch is pull the curtains, turn the lights on, and heat up a cup of coffee to get me through dinner and bedtime. I sit back on the couch with my hot mug, and little boys snuggle with me while we all reanimate after our cozy quiet time.
More than just the increased coziness of the lights being turned on and the curtains being closed is the lovely feeling of securing us all in for the night. I’ve always loved when all of us are finally home after our day of busyness, and the relief of changing into pajamas for the rest of the evening since we’re done going and doing and seeing other people. It feels safe, and like a sigh of relief. It’s different in the spring and summer—the evenings still hold possibility with their late sunsets and warm temperatures—but the cold and dark of the fall and winter lend itself to hunkering down. Do you know that word “hygge”? That’s what fall and winter evenings at home are for me after we’ve locked our door for the night—warmth, coziness, contentment.
Not to say that our evenings are always calm and serene—there are the evenings when everyone behaves while I’m making dinner and then they get caught up in quiet activities after dinner like Legos, reading, and homework, and those are the very best (in fact, life never seems more perfect than those times), but more often (much more often) the boys are amped up because they’re hungry and then Dad gets home and even with full bellies after dinner it seems like the perfect time to wrestle and annoy each other. I don’t sigh with relief at this time of day because everyone is calm and quiet, but rather because I love the feeling that we’ve met our outside-the-house requirements for the day and we’re well within reason to decide we’re done until tomorrow.
I should also mention that I don’t hate evening activities—trick or treating, high school basketball games, holiday dinners with friends and family, checking out the city’s Christmas lights, going out for evening snow shoveling and playing, heading out in the dark to pick up the boys from friends’ houses or school functions are all things I think of when this time of year comes around, and I look forward to them all! But on those days, as much as I love those activities, I still feel such a welcome “unwinding” when we’re finally all home for the night.
It’s no surprise to me that I’m feeling this all more profoundly right now, when being outside the house and among other people—even loved ones—represents an increased risk of spreading sickness, which is stressful in and of itself, even when the risk is necessary and worth it (church, grocery store, school, the family and friends in our “bubble”). And of course, with the stress and contention of election season and even now in the wake of Election Day, “outside the house” especially includes social media, which is harder to shut out, but so worth trying to do—a virtual “turning off the porch light” if you will. I like the quote attributed to William J. Bennett: “Home is a shelter from storms—all sorts of storms.” I guess that’s what I’m getting at, in my usual wordy way.
One of my very dearest hopes is that when the clocks change again in the spring, the longer days and increased sunshine run parallel to increased hope in regards to the pandemic, increased safety outside the house, decreased social unrest, and less of a desire to hole up and hibernate at home. In the meantime, I’m so grateful for days that end with cozy nights at home with my loved ones, and I hope for the same for you all. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!