Friday, November 6, 2009

learning the choreography

It's a complicated dance, this business of balancing small children, elementary school and two working parents.  There have been many weeks that it gets the best of me.  I feel spent and I feel like I've failed my children.  I don't like nights that are frantic and there is no quality time with children and I'm having to hurry everyone up, no matter what we're doing.

The last few weeks though, Bean and I finally seem to be getting down this complicated dance.  We still have to improvise nightly, but things are flowing better, which means we are more calm, which spreads to the kids.

Every family dynamic is different--so what works for us won't work the same for everyone.  But here are the dance moves from our home.

Homework gets done in the afternoon, before we get home from work.  As much as I would love to be involved in doing homework with Miss Rose, there just isn't always time. 

Showers are sometimes taken BEFORE dinner.  Weird, I know.  At least for me.  Baths and showers were always at the very end of the day in my house growing up.  But, Bean has convinced me to vary from that routine.  We get home from work by 4:30.  Depending on the evening and dinner prep, if we're going to be eating dinner past 5:30 or 6pm, Miss Rose takes a shower before dinner.  Yes, she usually protests, but it works.

No more night TV!  Watching one TV show before bed has been part of Miss Rose's routine for quite a while.  She is a very active, high energy kid, so this was a great wind down time for her.  But again, there often isn't time and I got really tired of rushing through the night just so she could watch a show.  Slowly, we just began to phase it out.  It wasn't necessarily a planned thing, but a natural evolution.  A few times a week the TV may go on at night, but only if everything else is done and the night is going smoothly.  Regular reading is a must for a kindergartener--so this is a priority high above TV.

Tag team!  Bean and I tag team everything.  He often cleans the kitchen (surprise, surprise) while I do baths and jammies.  I may start dinner, but he'll finish and serve while I start feeding the baby.  After the little girls are bathed, he'll dress Gracie while I dress Lily.  That's after he catches Gracie and gets her to stop running around the house naked saying "shake yer booty."

If it can wait, it can wait.  That's my new mindset.  The kids and quality time with them are my priority.  There is undoubtedly things that I need to/could do each night.  Like cleaning and laundry.  Preparing bottle and lunches for the next day.  But it can wait.  My kids can't.  If it can be done later, then it will.

Mama's bed is best.  My kids love hanging with my on my bed.  They get up and down and move all around, but it's quality time.  I often nurse Lily on my bed in the evening and Gracie especially loves to come hang out and talk to me and bring books up to read and cuddle.  If Miss Rose isn't occupied with something else, she'll end up in there too.  These are some of my favorite moments.  Being silly, cuddling, reading.

Early bedtime.  My kids like to sleep!  They have since they were babies.  They NEED sleep.  Lately our goal has been to have the girls in bed by 7:15.  Which means that we are done with the singing, the drinks, the prayers, the silliness, the cuddling etc by 7:30pm.  Early, I know.  But they are easily asleep by 8pm and not too grumpy when they are woken up at 6:30am.  It works for us.

No night goes like clockwork. That would be boring, right?  Perhaps, but I'd like to try!  There are still moments every night when the wheels are coming off and Bean and I just laugh about the Three Bean Circus taking place.  That phrase is used at least once a night!  But I am feeling much better about how our evenings are going.  Because they are flowing much better, we've actually been able to fit in a few family exercise times (walk/run/bike) right after work.

Let's not talk about the HUGE meltdown Miss Rose had tonight that lasted a few hours and included major loss of privilege and a spanking. 

We just figure it out as we go.

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