When I re-enter the workforce in a few years, I could certainly list the skill of “adaptability” on my resume for the time I’ve spent at home with the kids. Especially with having four in such short intervals, it seems like every time we get into a new routine, something changes. But at least for now, our new daily routine looks something like this:
My early-bird big boys are up at the crack of dawn, so I’m thankful that the change of the seasons keeps inching dawn back a minute or two each day. Regardless of the actual sunrise time, they’re usually up and rolling around 7. Depending on Zachary’s nursing schedule, I’m either up before them getting coffee, breakfast and lunches ready, or I’m recovering from the nocturnal ridiculousness of my sweet baby and they come get me up. Six-year-old Gracie started first grade this fall, and she has to be out for the bus by 8. Among the other qualities of her mother that she has inherited, a love of reading in bed with flashlights and a distaste for early mornings are not terribly conducive to our mornings. We’ve caught her several times reading in the dark after 9:30 at night, and the following mornings are, let’s just say, less than delightful. But eventually I get her up and moving, dressed, fed, hair done, teeth brushed, backpack, jacket and shoes on, and out the door, all while dealing with the three boys. When we get to the end of our long driveway before the bus does, I admit that I breathe a sigh of relief. First hurdle of the day. Check!
When we come in from the bus, the boys are usually begging to watch some of their favorite PBS shows. Educational TV + time for Mommy to get some stuff done = win-win situation. This summer, when I was getting frustrated about being behind on all the household chores, it occurred to me how much I missed this little part of our daily routine during the go-go-go days ofsummer break. I realized that I get a crazy amount of stuff done during this 45-minute window of time while the boys entertain themselves. Maybe because the clock is ticking and I know I’ll be “on duty” soon, but I really try to take advantage of it most days.
Depending on the day, we’ll spend the rest of the morning playing outside or inside, or this is usually my window of opportunity to take the boys and go out. Grocery shopping, library, or other errands need to happen when the kids are as functional as possible, so we try to get them knocked out before anyone gets too tired or hungry. Then lunch time comes early Monday through Thursday, because we need to get Max off to preschool by 12:15 on those days.
Now here comes the best part: after we drop Max off at school, it’s naptime for Jack and Zachary. If Zach hasn’t caught a nap earlier in the day and they both go down at the same time…it’s hard to put into words the excitement and–dare I say–giddiness that I feel when I think about the prospect of two hours at home with no kids awake, and the fact that this might start to happen on a somewhat regular basis. Two weeks into the school year it’s only happened about half the time, but I’m hoping to convince Zachary to cooperate more regularly. He’s never been much of a routine baby, but this is something that could be amazing. It’s already helped me get caught up on some of the things were piling up this summer (laundry, cleaning, cooking decent meals, organization, blogging). If I felt like I was drowning before, naptimes have at least helped me catch a few breaths of air.
And there’s hope. Hope that in a few weeks, as I stay caught up with all the “have-to” stuff and do a better job with the other things on my list (church, volunteer, and school responsibilities), I might actually get to some of the “want-to” stuff, like scrapbooking my baby’s first year (OK, before I get to Zachary’s I probably need to finish Jack’s book. It stops at six months, and he’ll be three in October. Oops.), organizing the basement storage, and unburying the top of my dresser where all the household paperwork seems to land. Deep down somewhere on that list is “reading a book for fun” and “taking a nap.” But hey, let’s not get too crazy here!
Max rides the bus home from school with Gracie, which is a huge bonus. I don’t have to drag sleeping kids out of their beds to go pick up their sibling like I did when Gracie went to preschool. We do snack time and a little chill time, then our evenings get filled up with soccer practice, dinner, and sometimes church activities. Before we know it, it’s bedtime and we’re ready to do it all over again.
Sometimes I feel like people look at me as a “stay-at-home mom” and think that I must have tons of down time to sit and relax. The reality is that with four kids, their activities, and mu husband’s and my responsibilities with church and other things, most of the time I spend at home needs to be productive. And that means either interacting with the kids: feeding, playing, reading, diapering, pottying, etc., or dealing with household stuff rather than sacking out on the couch with TV, a magazine, or the computer. I do sneak some of that fun stuff in, usually after the kids are in bed and I’m too tired to do anything else, but it’s not the all-day-every-day thing that some people imagine my life must include. Granted, the past few weeks have included a lot of playing catch-up with things that had to slide during the summer, and maybe once I get that catch-up list checked off some of that down time will come. I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll certainly appreciate it if it happens!