The Chofetz Chaim writes in Sefer Chomas HaDas (Fortress of Faith) (Maamar 2, towards the end) that just as there is an obligation to set aside appointed times for Tefilla, for Torah learning and for many Mitzvos, there is an absolute obligation upon parents to set aside a specific time for strategizing and planning the upbringing of their children (on a regular basis).
This is both a global directive, and a specific one. It is particularly relevant now with the changing of the clocks this weekend. In addition to the short term drowsiness you can anticipate, it is time to plan what your afternoons will look like. It will be light outside until 7:30 PM, and the urge and opportunity to play extensively outdoors until late, will tug at our children. Do you have a plan?
It’s perfectly fine to change your after-school schedule to accommodate the new found long afternoons. The question is whether it will “just happen” or will you be proactive in thinking about it, discussing it with each other where relevant, and then coming up with a plan that will work for you, your children and your entire family. There’s no one way to do it, but it’s important that you first have a plan before the situation overwhelms you and adversely affects your children’s homework, eating, bathing and sleep schedules.
In Pirkei Avos (2:13) Rabbi Shimon says in response to Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai’s directive to “Go out and see if you can discover which good path each person should follow,” that HaRoeh es HaNolad -“Before you do something think of what it will lead to.” This applies to everything, but our newly expanded afternoons are a perfect example of an opportunity that can be seized successfully with forethought, or have unfortunate unintended consequences, that could result from poor or no planning.
Enjoy the Bracha and pleasure of more daylight, and may the sun shine on all your plans and efforts on behalf of your children!
Have a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann