The day the sun didn’t rise

Living at a more northern latitude this time of year really messes with you.  The sun rises after we’ve all gotten up for the day and sets well before Dan is home from work.  If he didn’t bring the kids home at lunchtime, Dan would never see our apartment in the daylight during the week.  It’s even worse for the kids, who still take mid-day naps.  They wake up twice every day, in the morning and in the afternoon, but both times in complete darkness.  It does a number on their body clocks.  The other day, Liam woke up at 4:00 a.m., ready to go for the day — this from a kid that I have to pull out of bed at 7:00 every morning.

Yesterday was a profoundly cloudy day.  There were heavy, gray clouds with intermittent rain all day.  Liam woke up after nap time (in the dark), and asked, as he often does this time of year, if it was morning or night.  I told him it was night (B corrected me and told me it was evening) and Liam asked me, a little sadly, “Why didn’t the sun come up today?”

I get it.  That’s totally how it feels.  Living here is very dark in the winter, and the days when the sun doesn’t come up at all are a bit of a bummer.  We’re in to the darkest two weeks of the year now, though, and then things will be getting a little brighter.  (Another plus to going home for Christmas — we’ll spend two weeks of the darkest month of the year much further south, with more daylight!)

Daylight in the north

I understand that a lot of people don’t like Daylight Saving Time.  Its purpose is rather antiquated, it makes life a bit more complicated, the adjustment period is a pain . . . I even read an article, a few weeks ago, that said heart attacks are more common in the week following the time change.  I get it.  I, too, have always been of the mindset that we’re going to have a certain number of daylight hours, who cares what time of day they happen?

Living in Vienna, though, I care.  I care because my kids are already approaching 6:00 a.m. wake up times, and it’s still April.  By June, it’ll be full on daylight here just after 4:30 in the morning.  We have blackout curtains in the boys’ room, which help, but the curtains don’t silence the birds or stop little bit of light coming in around the door and window.  If not for Daylight Saving Time, my kids would be waking up now just after 5:00 a.m., and the sun would be up just after 3:30 in the morning in June.

Say what you like about Daylight Saving Time, but I’ll take my sunshine at 9:00 p.m. (which I actually find quite lovely) over 4:00 a.m. anytime (well, particularly in June).  Living at a more northerly latitude has given me a whole new appreciation for it.

Standard Time

We have Daylight Saving Time here in Austria, just like in the US, but it ends a week earlier, so we’re now 5 hours off from Eastern Time, instead of 6 . . . until next week, when we’ll be back at 6 again.  (I apologize, in advance, for anyone I call or text at an inappropriate time back in the States this week.)

Theoretically, this means that we got an extra hour of sleep last night, but since Liam is simultaneously teething and congested with a cold, there was very little sleep to be had around our house last night.  We will, however, be appreciating the shift in hours that the cessation of Daylight Saving Time provides — at least temporarily.  The kids have been sleeping in later and later in the mornings as the sunrise gets later.  This is great — it is a fantastic change from what we were experiencing in June and July:  morning waking times around 5 a.m. — however, since I have a hard time making myself wake a sleeping child, we’ve ended up with some rushed (and late) mornings recently.  Hopefully this will help get the kids up, and Dan to work, on time, more easily.  (For a while, at least.)

I can tell, though, after just one day of this schedule, that the evenings are going to take some getting used to.  By 4:30 today, dusk was starting to settle and it was truly dark by about 5:15.  For trick or treating tomorrow, it’ll be perfect — nice and dark before we even go out.  But dusk at 4:30 in October feels a little ominous — we have nearly 2 months of decreasing sunlight ahead of us.  It’s already noticeably different than what I’m used to.  The light here is beautiful — it’s like having morning or afternoon sun all day long.  The sun is never quite overhead — “high” noon really isn’t.

Soon, we’ll be getting up and leaving the house in the dark;  often coming home in the dark, as well.  As we move further into winter at this latitude, I know that each moment of sunlight will become increasingly precious to us.  We’ll be looking forward to the days of 5 a.m. sunrises very soon.

Latitude adjustment

It is sunny here at a quarter after five in the morning.  Not “the sun is coming up”, but sun streaming in the windows.  It starts getting light before 4:30.  It’s taking some getting used to.  At home, we had a rule that the kids couldn’t get up for the day before 6:00.  We just can’t enforce that here.  We can’t convince Benjamin, let alone Liam, to go back to bed when it’s bright out.  It’s making for some early mornings.

And then, on the other side, it’s light here until after 9:00, which is making for some late evenings.

We’re at a very northern latitude here (which, it’s shocking for me to admit, I didn’t realize until recently).  We’re north of every major city in the contiguous US — these are Canadian latitudes!  I actually thought we were a lot closer to DC, latitude-wise.  (How and why I didn’t look in to that further, I have no idea.)

Really, though, it’s lovely.  It’s really pleasant to have so much daylight.  It’s pretty great to be finished putting the kids down for bed and still have it be light out.  But, this raises some concerns . . . first, I don’t imagine we’ll be getting a lot of sleep over the next couple of months.  Second, I don’t know how I’m going to feel about this whole northern latitude thing in November.  (I’ve looked it up, and we will have SEVEN FEWER HOURS of daylight in November than we do right now.  The sun will set just after 4:00 in the afternoon.)  Oh, dear.