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ONE simple question no. 3

One simple question button

I have a lot I need to get done, which subsequently always seems to lead to some sort of procrastination. Tonight it took the form of blog-fussing and the creation of this little button. It's because I really love these simple questions I've been posing to all of you lately. The one of about the library and what methods you use to avoid fines and overdue charges was full of great ideas and advice. (as well as a few of you who commiserated with my "issues".) And I thought it was fascinating to read all of the different approaches to, and styles of family dinners.

slowing down the evening

Tonight, Dan was reading a bedtime story to the girls and I headed outside, just as it was getting dark, to lock the chickens in their coop. We've been trying to get out to them a little earlier these nights because we are getting a little suspicious that there might be some fox activity around here. Last night, we lost a whole nest of eggs that our one female guinea had been sitting on, and then, well….there's Rosie.

After I locked in the chickens, I took the long way home, walking around the back field with a trail of cats and dog bounding along behind me, listening to how deafening the peepers are getting, and straining to recognize the last few birds that were singing in the sycamore trees.

It was a much-needed time for me. I needed to get away for a few moments. Step back.

Tonight, as I often do, I was feeling the press of time on my shoulders. Feeling like our evening was slipping away too quickly. That by the time we were finished at the dinner table, I was already feeling like we were running late for bedtime and stories, and out of time for my planned baths for the girls.

During the work week, Dan gets home at 6:15, (on a good night) and we quickly sit down to dinner. Before we know it we're shuffling the girls upstairs for pajamas, tooth-brushing and stories. And sometimes, it all feels like it's happening too quickly.

So here's my (not so) simple question for all of you:  How do you slow down and savor your evening family time? How do you keep things from feeling rushed? Do you organize or plan your evenings to make more time for enjoying each other?

I really enjoy hearing from all of you and interacting with you through
these questions. I hope you are enjoying hearing from each other and
learning from each other, as much as I am.

One simple question button

I have a lot I need to get done, which subsequently always seems to lead to some sort of procrastination. Tonight it took the form of blog-fussing and the creation of this little button. It's because I really love these simple questions I've been posing to all of you lately. The one of about the library and what methods you use to avoid fines and overdue charges was full of great ideas and advice. (as well as a few of you who commiserated with my "issues".) And I thought it was fascinating to read all of the different approaches to, and styles of family dinners.

slowing down the evening

Tonight, Dan was reading a bedtime story to the girls and I headed outside, just as it was getting dark, to lock the chickens in their coop. We've been trying to get out to them a little earlier these nights because we are getting a little suspicious that there might be some fox activity around here. Last night, we lost a whole nest of eggs that our one female guinea had been sitting on, and then, well….there's Rosie.

After I locked in the chickens, I took the long way home, walking around the back field with a trail of cats and dog bounding along behind me, listening to how deafening the peepers are getting, and straining to recognize the last few birds that were singing in the sycamore trees.

It was a much-needed time for me. I needed to get away for a few moments. Step back.

Tonight, as I often do, I was feeling the press of time on my shoulders. Feeling like our evening was slipping away too quickly. That by the time we were finished at the dinner table, I was already feeling like we were running late for bedtime and stories, and out of time for my planned baths for the girls.

During the work week, Dan gets home at 6:15, (on a good night) and we quickly sit down to dinner. Before we know it we're shuffling the girls upstairs for pajamas, tooth-brushing and stories. And sometimes, it all feels like it's happening too quickly.

So here's my (not so) simple question for all of you:  How do you slow down and savor your evening family time? How do you keep things from feeling rushed? Do you organize or plan your evenings to make more time for enjoying each other?

I really enjoy hearing from all of you and interacting with you through
these questions. I hope you are enjoying hearing from each other and
learning from each other, as much as I am.

67 comments on “ONE simple question no. 3”

  1. what a fantastic question!

    with an equally fantastic photo and imagery…i love that ritual of walking out in the evening to lock the chicken coops, followed by your animal menagerie. (=

    and like you, my husband gets home around the same time (although lately, closer to 7pm) and it’s a mad-rush to the finish line of 8pm on school nights. then, i’m done and struggling to make 10pm, my list of things to do and accomplish in the evening just carried over until the next night.

    i’ll be excited to come back here and see what everyone else is doing for the evening….

  2. fatty gets home late most days too. i often have the girls all bathed and eating dinner in their p.j.’s. it helps a lot and gives us extra time to spend with each other. other times, fatty does the dishes while i do the bed time stuff (or vice versa). we do get a bit lax about bed time once the school year is over. and for me, i try to get all my stuff done early in the day so i can be present for the kids when they are home from school. i know you and i have different circumstances, but i plan on enlisting the kids’ help as soon as school is out.

  3. I read on a blog once that you should give your kids two hours between dinner and when you realistically expect them in bed. And so we do that and it works out really well for us.

    I’m lucky that my husband is almost always home by 5 pm (he leaves at 6:30 though) and so we aim to eat between 5 and 5:30. The girls are in bed every night at 7:30. This does two things – it gives us time to be alone as a couple in the evening, and it also gives us a good two hour stretch to spend together. Sure, some of that time is spent eating and clearing the table and doing dishes. But that is what family life is about.

    We almost always go for a walk, if we are pressed for time we will only go around the block. It makes our evening slow down a bit though. Being with only each other and enjoying the outside feels like a luxury these days with two little girls.

    The other thing that works is having a set bedtime routine – bath, jammies, snack, pick out clothes for the next day, book, brush teeth, prayers. I’ve wrote about it on my blog too but it makes a huge difference!! The kids know what to expect and we keep things rolling and they usually fall asleep easily and quickly.

    I hope you get some answers you are looking for on here – sorry mine was so lengthy!

  4. I recently posted about finding a simple plan to help ease all this in our lives too. One thing I find really stressful on me (which then leads to stressing the entire family, i think)is that I also get home from work at 5:30. there is no time to sit with the kids, dinner is a mad rush and then we leave a trail of a mess to get into the bath and bedtime routine (plus homework!).it’s such a huge challenge that weighs on my mind all of the time. The chaos of it all leaves me so tired I usually fall asleep too early then miss out on that quiet time with my husband.One thing I am going to try is cooking on Sundays for the week ahead. It’s menu planning to the max. Getting home should be a little less stressful then, I hope!Oh, and I know I should be doing small bits of housework each and every night to free up my weekend time too. It’s just so hard….finding the right balance. And of course, not meeting up to my high standards makes me put more pressure on myself.

  5. What a good question… and one we’ve been discussing at home. My hubby works until 9-11pm but fortunately gets to come home for dinner each night. We decided last night that I’d make sure dinner was ready promptly at 5:30 so that we could eat and then go for a nice long walk afterward. I work from home, so getting out is a necessity to avoid the dreaded cabin fever. Little one LOVES cruising around the neighborhood checking out the sites. And quite frankly, the exercise will do us some good around the middle! 😉 So… hopefully by the time we finish our walk we’ll all feel a little more refreshed and calm and not so rushed to get back to work or get in the tub, etc.

  6. I had to giggle at your and erin’s comments about husbands getting home late. If mine is home by 6:30 I feel like we’re doing REALLY well. So for us, supper isn’t until almost 7 most days. I try to get bath and jammies done before supper. I usually have gary do bedtime right after we’re finished with supper. I’ve tried for 11 years (dating, engagement, early marriage to present) to get him to leave work before 5:30. If it hasn’t worked in 11 years, I doubt it will work now.

  7. The biggest thing for us would be me being organized so that supper is on the table when my hubby gets home so we can eat right away. Also having the house somewhat tidied up so that I don’t have to spend so much time on cleanup after supper. One night a week we all go to the local pool. The girls get right into their PJs after swimming and go right to bed when they get home. They stay up a little bit later on these nights but its nice to have some family time away from the house where we’re not distracted by our to do lists.

  8. This really is such a good question. I didn’t see this in the other comments, but my children (the boys mostly) are extremely hyper during the bedtime routine. My mother is visiting now and tells me that my nephews are the same way, and my sister similarly struggles with it in the evenings.

    I’ve found the most effective method is to start the routine – as one commenter mentioned – two hours before you want them asleep. And count backward from the time they usually get up in the morning, to make sure they’re getting the required amount of sleep. Most kids don’t “sleep in”, so we pick a bedtime based on the time we expect them to awake.

    The other thing I’ve found helpful is to separate the children before they get dressed. The fooling around often occurs as they interact during dressing and teeth brushing.

    We try not to skip any part of the routine, even if we are pressed for time. We just shorten each step as necessary. Skipping anything causes some kids (my ADHD boy, especially) to have a harder time settling down. Kids who don’t self-soothe well learn to soothe through the predictability of the routine.

    We have four children – 4 months, 28 months, 5 and 7. I am interested in how larger families handle their evenings. The hyperactivity during this time makes me feel like I’ve been through a major battle by the time we’re done. My husband, currently unemployed, is helping with everything right now. We’ve tried incentive charts and such to curb time wasting, but they always lose effectiveness after about 2 weeks.

  9. so, i wasn’t too worried about my nights until I read the comments. My husband comes in a bit before 7 p.m. also and our evenings are very relaxed for that hour before bedtime, but I now know that is because I skip all this bath, p.j. stuff. Usually everyone wants to go outside with dad so he can do his decompression ritual (random garden digging and mulling). But I sacrifice a good bedtime ritual for the two year old who really needs it by being this flexible.

  10. My girls aren’t as young as yours, but I feel rushed right after dinner, too.

    We definately fit into that ‘special needs’ category, that Pam mentions above, where routine is important, and we often have tears relating to bickering in their shared bedroom. In order for the girls to get extended reading (45 min. to 1 hour) which they love, I like to get them settled by 7:15 or 7:30. They don’t baulk at the time, but I know other kids their ages aren’t anywhere near ready at that time. It works for us to stick to the routine though: dinner, washing up, reading, prayers — we keep it that simple. Earlier the better allows them more ease into transition time.

  11. I feel your pain on this one too. and I have no solutions or words of wisdom to offer. My four children are ages 17, 16, 12, and 8. I remember those nights when my children were all little and I would think – okay, don’t be alarmed but I’m just going to go running down the street screaming at the top of my lungs – be back in a jiffy for that bath and story pumpkin. By the time my fourth was born I realized that it’s impossible to do it all perfectly planned and remain sane. Sometimes you just have to say stop. Tonight the dinner dishes will be rinsed and stacked, but I’ll just have to clean up the kitchen later (or maybe in the morning) because right now we are going to do this together. And I realized that if someone didn’t get a bath tonight – the police aren’t coming for me – and the child wont self destruct. They will get the bath tomorrow morning instead. Now, I’m just happy that we all have dinner together every night. That’s my only goal – it’s the most important time of day. With the age spread, we aren’t trying to watch a movie together or read together anymore, but the conversations around the table are very very important. Sometimes that means dinner at 8 PM so that we are all home. It is what it is. Some days flow perfectly and you can get it all done – other days you just have to let some things go for the sake of what you decide is important for that day. Now, I’m not physically exhausted anymore because they are older and able to do more for themselves, but I do find myself completely emotionally exhausted more often than not. The older three don’t need me for their personal care, but they need me in other ways. Sometimes the conversations leave me hoping that it’s a dream and when I wake up they will all be under the age of 9 again. I think all stages of parenting are hard and can be overwhelming at times. Each stage has some things getting easier but then you are hit with a whole new list of issues. Sometimes I want to hide from their needs because I think ugh, I just can’t give anymore today. Life, It’s complicated isn’t it?….and I’m totally off subject :O) sorry.

  12. erin: our summer bedtimes are *really* lax, too. Especially when we start taking “pajama swims” at my grandmother’s pool…we’ve been known to be swimming in the dark–which is pretty late come July and august. 🙂

  13. sandy – i find that cooking dinners in advance does help me out on those days when i just know we aren’t going to have a lot of time. i love my slow cooker for these days, or breakfast for dinner – fast, easy and pleases everyone!

  14. I have to concur with Erin – there’s nothing wrong with doing the baths/pjs before dinner time – especially if that means that they get to have more “real” family time in the evening. I have transitioned my kids to morning showers and baths just so that space between our too-late dinner and bedtime isn’t filled with that. No matter what, on the later nights when the kids have tennis and Jeff gets home late, it *always* feels rushed. I try to limit the rushed feeling to those two nights a week, and to have dinner ready to go before we leave for lessons. The crockpot is my friend.

  15. Our current schedule works really well for us when we are able to stick to it. Unfortunately, my work schedule changes frequently, sometimes I am home by 4:00 pm, sometimes 10:00 pm. It just depends. We try to have our menu planned for the week, and have a couple of slow-cooker dinners going on the days that I will be getting home close to dinner. My son plays outside (while Daddy works in the yard, etc.) while I get dinner ready to go. We try and sit down to eat around 6:00. After dinner we take a bath, and then play a game or do a little more free play before putting Seth to bed around 8. That is the best case scenario…worst case is that I am at work late, Daddy has to make dinner himself, which can get interesting, and is tired and frustrated by the time I get home. But let’s focus on the good days, right!?

  16. sometimes this makes me feel like a negligent mother, but it’s more important to have supper together, right?sending a box to you this week, btw.

  17. I used to have a routine. And we always tried to wait dinner – but when Daddy needs his basketball to relieve stress twice a week, or have a public meeting to attend … it just got to be too much. The girls needed a snack to tide them over to dinner and then were either to tired/wired or not hungry.

    And now they are older (4,8,12) we have piano lessons, softball, choir, bell choir, confirmation, and concerts on top of Daddy’s schedule and my occasional evening meetings (I volunteer-work from home otherwise). Last year we even tried eating all together at the ballpark – too expensive, all burgers and the kid playing softball still had to be fed earlier (and you can bet it wasn’t burgers either – NO FAIR!).

    So now we eat when we need to eat. Sometimes at 4 p.m. without Dad. But it’s a sit down meal. We talk, we relax, sometimes they get goofy and sometimes I get irritated (teehee). Then we go where we need to go. We make a plate for Dad, and sometimes they’ll sit doing homework or just talking to him while he eats.

    I give the little one her bath during the day alot – a long bubble play bath :). Then she and the 8 year old get their stories and singing and ritual handshake/headbut with dad while the older one takes her shower. The 8 year old takes her shower while the little one gets tucked in bed and the 12 year old & I discuss or read whatever book she’s reading for school.

    Yeah, it’s crazy. But we spend alot of weekend time together. Playing games, in the yard, at the pool, at the park. Plus we get away for both weekend and two week camping vacations where there are no distractions – just beauty and slowness of life.

    And summer, well – while there are lots of morning camps (art, swimming, VBS, music) we eat almost every meal outside, and we wait 95% of dinners for daddy, even on weekly golf nights. Those nights we just stay longer at the pool. Then we stay up playing volleyball, bocce ball, neighborhood walks until the bats come out. Baths in summer are hard – because they are often barefoot until bedtime, so alot of the time they happen right after we return from the pool, and then just take a footbath before bed.

    I think I’m rambling…

  18. I guess I thought we were the only ones with a hubby getting home around 7pm! Not really, but it is good to hear from others who struggle with the same schedule issues that we do. One thing that helps us is that the kids don’t take baths every day. On the nights we have a bath, we play and have that as a fun entertaining time. Other nights we try to have gardening time, a game, play with legos together, etc. But I agree that it goes too quickly.

    One way we give ourselves a little bigger window is by putting bedtime later and leaving in a nap for our four year old. Most kids his age seem to have dropped their naps, but it allows us to have a little longer evenings. On the days he doesn’t take naps, he really needs to go to bed around 7:30. Having a nap gives us until 8:30 or 9.

    I’m looking forward to reading the other responses!

  19. I work 4 or 5 nights a week so the evening ritual is really daddy’s ritual. I try to cook a nicer meal the two nights I’m home and we have the “nice family dinner” with the nicer weather we usually fit in a walk or a bike ride. After that I have to fit in with their usual plan which is very hard because he is much more laid back. Baths can be 45 minutes and my preferred 8:00 bedtime is now closer to 9:00. I’ve learned to just go with it, it has definitly made me loosen up and just enjoy the bedtime ritual and not worry so much about the bedtime.

  20. My husbands arrival is variable sometime between 6:00 and 7:00, so I just try to serve dinner at around 6:15 or 6:30. If hes not home when we sit down, he joins us before were done unless it is a really late night. Before dinner, the homework is done. We finish eating in about half an hour and if my husband has come home early, he usually cleans up the dinner dishes. The kids get their pajamas on and watch TV or read until 8:00 when they brush their teeth and go to bed. We do baths in the morning during the school year because they aren’t usually filthy. I think this is the big key to our slower evening. In the summer, we move the baths to the evening since they are really dirty, but they are up until 9:00 then.

  21. For us, this is one of my biggest pet peaves with public school The boys have to be at the bus stop by 7:20 a.m., so that means we are showered and in bed by 7:30 in the evenings. We DO rush, but it is out of necessity. If we didn’t have to be up and at em’ so earlyy, I ‘d let them stay up a bit later. Looking forward to summer around here!

  22. These are all such helpful anecdotes, especially from those with kids older than mine.

    I have two nine-year-olds and a two year old. My husband rarely gets home before 8:30. We were eating in shifts and I found it very depressing. So, we started a sacrosanct Friday night dinner ritual. We eat together every Friday night, in the dining room, with candles lit and a centerpiece created by the kids. I make sure that the meal is not about the food (it can set me over the edge if I make something that the kids won’t even try) and we turn on lovely music for the background. After dinner, we often play a board game or two and settle in for a family movie (translation: kids and I fall asleep on the couch). It’s turned into a lovely ritual that works for our family, even though we can’t eat together every night.

    We do try and have our breakfast together though. That helps.

  23. sandy, i’ll be anxious to hear how cooking for the week ahead goes. I was just telling my husband last night that I really need to figure out a place to put a second fridge/freezer in the house. I have little room for “extra” cooking right now. (His answer to my request: “well first we’ll have to rewire the electrical”. I guess it will be awhile……)

  24. i have such a better evening on the days when I use my slow cooker. plus I can have all the other dishes done before we even sit down to dinner. my slow cooker and my big, heavy MS dutch oven are life-savers.

  25. M and E. yes. it’s usually 6:30 and I hardly ever manage to have dinner on the table right away when he walks in the door. Which is usually okay b/c he often needs some outside “detox” time (aka time to do some manual labor) from his long commute.

  26. pam, you’re so right. the later i put my kids to bed, the earlier they get up. And i like your observation that skipping steps in the routine can cause some children to have a harder time settling down at night.

  27. so true. the earlier we can get started on the bedtime routine the better. it makes everything so much calmer. E and M share a bedroom too and they can get really hyper, or have a lot of bickering at night, if they sense that Dan and I are pushing them too fast through the bedtime routine.

  28. i do notice on the nights that dan gets home really late, and the girls and i sit down to dinner by ourselves, that they always wander back to the table while dan eats. it’s actually kind of nice sometimes–he sits and talks with them, they seem a little more mellowed out, too.

  29. eren, every morning when the school bus goes past my house and my kids are still sound asleep in my beds, i wonder how they’ll ever manage to wake up early enough to catch it!

  30. Erin, Molly, and any other crock pot user! I’d love to hear your tried and true crock pot recipes. I have a few books, but nothing has really stood out for simple, weekday tasty meals. I’d love to use it more.

  31. I am lucky in that my husband works from home, so I can have dinner right at 6 which works for us. It’s way early for hubby who grew up having dinner at 8 or so, but he goes along with it because I believe it’s important for us to have dinner together (as I grew up being in bed most nights before my dad came home). I am also lucky in that we currently only have one kiddo. Dinner always takes longer than I expect, so he gets a little time to play after. If we have dessert, that’s at 7. Then shower time at 7:30. Much faster than baths, at least for one kid. He’s usually asleep by 8:30 after plenty of reading. I still usually wish it finished earlier, though.

  32. so fun to read the comments.I have it much easier ’cause my husband gets home at 5 pm promptly- the benefits of union work. Though Julia goes to bed at 6:30 so we’re cramming in things. The one thing I don’t do is bathe the kids at night. I’m embarrassed about how few baths my kids get, but it’s just way to harried when we have to get one in. That said, I won’t put them in their beds if they’re all muddy!Also, Bill and I set aside Wed. nights as date night. Then we don’t feel guilty doing things in the evenings after the kids go down.

  33. I try to keep weeknight meals as simple as possible. No fancy dinners.. many things prepped during the day while my oldest daughter is still at school and my youngest is down for her naptime. That way when dinner rools around we have time to sit and be together so a while before the bedtime craziness sets in. As far as keepinf bedtime on somewhat of a time limit… we actually have to set the kitchen timer or else my oldest would take about an hour to shower.

  34. Eat dinner outside whenever possible. The contact with nature naturally slows us down and we linger more.

    Bath time before dinner a couple of times a week. This makes the evening seem longer, and dinner get prepared in a less stressful manner.

    We often take 30 or more minutes to make music and sing, especially after a particularly hard/long day.

  35. This is always hard. The time between Chris getting home and bedtime (usually two hours) always seems so short. We’ve limited baths — just two a week. We try to take walks after dinner when it’s nice out. Twice a week, we do video chats with Chris’s mom, so that forces us to all sit in the living room and hang out for a while, just talking. Bedtime has a definite routine and generally goes really smoothly: one kid per parent, diapers, PJs, wash up/brush teeth, stories, kisses, night night.

  36. i just wanted to say how lovely it is read all of these family stories and routines. I don’t have children yet, but i do understand family & routine (i’m a nanny). i love reading so many stories about how important family meals are together, especially when these times make it feel like it is something of the past.

    i congratulate everyone here on making such important efforts for your whole family. also try to remember there is a difference between routine and schedule. sometimes when time is getting away from me, i stop looking at the clock and just let things be.

  37. Hello-Great topic! When my oldest was 3-4, my hubby worked the swing shift in a stressful job. He was gone from 1pm-10pm, then had to unwind before he could sleep. We (my daughter and I) rearranged our schedule to fit his better.My question is this-if you homeschool, why are you on such a tight schedule? Couldn’t your kids go to bed later and get up later? That is what we did for that “season” in our lives, and it made things so much better!

  38. Wonderful topic!Do love these questions. Don’t have anything to add that has not already been said.So awesome to read about all those Mama’s and Papa’s out there makin’ it happen for family time together at night!

  39. I am very jealous of all of you! My husband works until 8 and sometimes later. My 4 year old usually sits at the table with my little 7 month old and eats/entertains her. While he eats, I am making lunch for tomorrow, emptying and refilling the dishwasher, etc. After I put the children to bed at 7pm and I wait for my husband. Some nights, I am just too hungry or tired to wait for him, so I eat by myself. I wish I could eat at 5pm when my son eats, but I am not ready to eat- too early. After years of my husband’s late nights I can not think about eating early. For my children’s sake, I should eat with them, but I love to eat with my husband!

  40. I just started a new job – I’m working full-time & my husband is unemployed. We’ve always had a pretty loosey-goosey routine, but now I think we’ll make it more structured.

    I love the idea of the walk every evening to slow things down. My daughter is 34 months old & this is a huge change for us. I can imagine snuggling her up in our baby carrier & carrying her against my heart as we go for a before bed ramble.

    Great question!

  41. Wow. This made me stop and think. At the moment dinner during the week is usually combined with me saying “hurry up and finish because I have to take— to —” We rush dinner, skip showers some nights, very rarely do I get to read to the kids anymore (they read to themselves and listen to tapes), and by the time 9 pm comes round I’m in bed. For me I read- 1/2 hour to an hour…maybe more…as long as I last, and I guess that’s my slow down time. But now that the kids are older and I’m taxi driver, it’s all go in the evenings. Funny, because for the first time in 13 years, my husband is usually home around dinner time (I often have to pick him up). For most of our family life I was a “law widow” raising the kids on my own. I didn’t drive and so our routine was slower and more of a routine. I used to joke that when he did, on the rare occasion, come home he just got in the way and messed up the system.But I guess that’s why Friday night is such a “chill” night in our house. We get home from sports at 6.30 and I pick up frozen pizzas which we add to. We take our time, we don’t do homework, we just chill-maybe play a family game, or watch a movie together. I think at the end of our busy week we need it.Another thinker Molly- I love it.

  42. Molly, I don’t have any kids but based on your description, would it help if you had them get in their pjs before dinner? That way you could take it a bit easier afterward.

    Time, eh? Always slipping past our fingers.

    Sigh…

  43. I feel this way very often also. There are some nights when we sit down to eat and I look at the clock and it is almost 7:00! That is just crazy.

    One thing I have been trying to do is have dinner done and ready when my husband gets home from work. If we can eat and be done by 6:30, then we could have time for a game or two.

    But, on nights when my children let me know that hey are in charge and I can’t get dinner done…well, then I just try really hard to make the most of the time together that we have.

    My husband gets the older two ready for bed, teeth brushed, and stories read while I get the baby to bed. It gives him some much needed time with the kids.

    I do make sure we eat dinner together every night, no exceptions. That is one way that we can all reconnect after the long day.

  44. This sounds like our house…..only being home at 7pm is the most realistic. I am another one that does bath before dinner. I am SO looking forward to summer and being able to relax bed time a little. A family walk before bed sounds heavenly!

  45. I love “running into you” here!

    I am a firm believer in the family dinner too. It has been a bit challenging with Jeremy coming home at 7pm now, but the alternative just doesn’t work for me. Now I am just counting down to summer and the relative freedom it will give us.

  46. Well as a kid, I always remember my mom bathing us right before supper. So now, I do the same with the kids. But I confess, I bathe them every other day and their 3 and 1 so I think I can get away with that now. My hubby gets home between 7-8pm. My kids are already fussing for dinner around 5pm so that’s when they eat. I usually wait for my husband to eat. The kids gather around the table and we all just chat. They always have a cup of warm milk before bedtime. We brush teeth, read a book or two and off to bed. Sometimes we skip reading and they play with their father for a bit. But that’s basically it. I try to stay up to spend some quality time with hubby but other times I’m just too pooped for anything. But I try not to stress. What’s important is that we’re together, and accept that sometimes rituals get comprised and that’s okay too.

  47. I so know what you mean. My husband is never home before 7:00pm and quite often later than that. Our girls are 5 (at school) at 2 years and so eat their meals early in the day, I have to be ready by 5pm on the dot or they’re begging for food. As a result we can’t eat together as a family during the week. I sit with the girls while they eat and then generally after dinner (which we finish any time between 5:45 and 6:00) they get a little play time before they’re both into the same bath by 6:30. I then have them in their pjamas and on the couch for stories by 7:00pm. We then have half an hour of reading, during which daddy usually arrives home and gets them all wound up, into bed by 8:00pm for both. I usually run on time, because I know not to try and do too much, but by the time Geoff gets home I really am over the fussing at that time, it’s been a long day. Once the girls are in bed I then have to start cooking again for us, so it feels like starting over again.

    I envy you all being able to eat together – we do it once a week on Family dinner night Sundays. Saturday night is date night for mum and dad where the girls go to bed early and either Geoff or I cooks for the other. Sundays though, the girls choose the meal and we all eat together at 5:00 and then gosh, the night feels like it stretches out in front of us – nothing to do after putting the girls to bed but relax – so wonderful. I remember my dad being there for dinner every night, but I guess those were different times and my husband has a different job – wish it were different though.

  48. When my first son was born (who will be five next week) our doctor gave us his most important piece of advice, which was to start a bedtime routine from day one and stick to it. We have done this with both our boys as often as we possibly can – dinner (sometimes as a whole family, sometimes just with mom, sometimes just brothers, depending on schedules), baths, teeth, stories, songs, prayers, bed. As a result (I’m assuming), my kids are very happy to go to bed and don’t question that it should be different. Now that my eldest is getting wiser, though, and wondering why he goes to bed when it’s still light out, why other kids are still outside, etc., we are changing routines a little for him. Once a week he has a movie night with dad. They move furniture in the family room and bring down every blanket and comforter and sleeping bag in the house to make a giant nest in front of the TV. They eat pizza and watch a movie (usually Star Wars) until they fall asleep. It is my son’s (and, I dare say, my husband’s) favorite night of the week. And because he has this night to look forward to, it makes it easier for him to comply with the regular 7 pm bedtime every other night of the week.

    Thanks for asking the question. It is great to hear how parents of older children keep it all together!

  49. Kelly, I have this same issue a lot. My husband is a guitar teacher and a gigging musician and his schedule is all over the place. If he is ever going to be home before 6:30 pm, I make sure we eat together. If he’ll be home before 9 pm, I wait and make a nice dinner for us to eat together. (This is how most nights go!) If he’s out playing a gig, I eat with my boys. It is not “normal” and sometimes I worry about that for my boys, but when my husband is home we try to eat the meals we can together and just have fun times playing, going for walks, etc. I try not to compare or worry and just love what we have. It’s not always easy, but it makes the most sense to me.

  50. i second this, it’s such a weight off, and no huge kitchen mess to be cleaning up! extra bonus with slow-cooked meals is leftovers, so the stress-free meal just keeps on giving…

  51. A little late to the conversation, but I enjoyed reading responses. We used to go for our evening constitutional a couple of times a week and I’d like to get back to that. We are in the more of a rush in the evening people since Mister gets home from 5:30 on (not a standard time). These days, we trade off bath and bed with Lentil, which gives each of us some time with her in the quiet of the evening. Dinner, though, comes later. These days we’re eating between 8pm and 9pm. I’m working on changing that because it’s too late for too many reasons. Also, Lentil is six months tomorrow which means solids and we’d really like her to eat with us at the table and start that tradition now.ramble ramble ramble.

  52. Amy,Thanks for the help! It is nice to know that other moms are in the same situation! I do try to be everything to everyone- want to please my husband and my children! :)Kelly

  53. i only have two kiddos, but it seems to cut down on the silliness if one of two things happen. either i walk through the whole getting ready with them, or if i have one of them get ready while the other is occupied with something else.

  54. We’re still trying to figure this one out! It really does seem when you literally slow down and do nothing (or next to it), time seems to slow down too.

    Saw you mentioned on the Green Hour site. Congrats!

  55. We have a schedule! It is not always adhered to but when it is things run much smoother!Monday~ Movie nightTuesday~ Preschool activity (to show Daddy something we would do during schooltime!)Wednesday~ Toy night/chore night (play with Legos with him or other toy of his choice!)Thursday~ Game NightFriday~ Free night (play outside or whatever!)Saturday~ Video Game Night (the only time he gets to play!)Sunday~ Puzzle night

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