It’s the first day back in the regular swing of things after the Christmas holidays. Although my husband Jason returned to work late last week, my schedule with the kids remained empty until today. When I was a child, I hated going back to the drudgery of routine; it depressed me terribly and sometimes I wept with longing for the excitement of guests, travel, entertaining, presents. Now I like the comfort and structure of the routine I’ve sculpted for myself and my family.
The morning starts early. The kids usually wake up between 6:30 and 7 a.m., which is a huge improvement over the spontaneous 5 a.m. wake-ups that the baby insisted on every single morning that we were visiting family over the holidays. Believe me, the only thing worse than getting up at 5 a.m. with a bouncy baby is having to do it in someone else’s dark house, full of other sleeping guests.
After attempting to prolong my warm time in bed by snuggling the kids in with me and giving them books and toys, it inevitably deteriorates within a few minutes and I’m forced to get up. We keep our house cool all the time, but especially at night time. We get dressed shivering, change the drenched diaper, make the beds, and thump down the stairs. I open the curtains to let in the murky winter morning light — usually non-existent for a while yet — and start making breakfast while my kids whine and grumble at the table.
A. always starts with homemade granola, yogurt, and sliced fruit. L. eats yogurt, fruit, and Cheerios. Then we move on to eggs and ham, toast with peanut butter, pancakes, or oatmeal. Yes, my kids eat a lot. I make my morning latte and sit at the table, talking to Jason or reading cooking magazines, one of my serious addictions. I make a point of talking about the day’s schedule with A., who, at three years old, likes to know what’s going on. Usually there’s classical music blasting in the living room. After doing dishes, the kids play on their own while I continue to sip my coffee, read, or check emails.
Twice a week, A. gets dropped off at nursery school at 9 a.m. and L. goes down for his morning nap as soon as I get home. That’s where I am right now, luxuriating in the bliss of alone time as I write, drink my second latte, and listen quietly to Adele’s 19 album that I just purchased last night. (Why did it take me so long?!) When L. wakes up around 10:30 a.m., he plays happily on his own with no big brother to snatch away toys and we go pick up A. before lunch. On days when A. isn’t at nursery school, this is the time we head outside for a walk or play in the backyard, no matter what the weather.
Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner or pasta. I’ve always hated sandwiches, so they rarely make an appearance in my home. One o’clock signals nap time for all three of us. Amazingly, my three-year-old has shown no indication of giving up his nap; in fact, he falls asleep almost instantly. With the phone off, silence reigns for two hours, during which I sleep, read, and write. I’m strict about doing absolutely nothing that could be done while the kids are awake.
3 p.m. is snack time and often more outdoor play time, or a visit with friends. When Jason gets home at 4:30 p.m., I hand over full parenting duties and head to the gym twice a week while he makes dinner and plays with the kids. It’s quite lovely; I come home to a hot dinner and feel energized from a brutal CrossFit workout. We eat, clean up dishes, give showers to the boys, pick up toys, and read books. At 7 p.m., they’re in bed with lights out.
That’s our magical alone time that I look forward to every day. No matter how it gets used, it’s absolutely delicious to be uninterrupted. We watch movies, drink tea and visit, just read silently alongside each other, play music, or get a babysitter to go out for drinks. Often I write posts at night while Jason goes to the gym. Sometimes we have a hot shower together and I can wheedle a foot massage out of him before going to bed.
That’s a glimpse of my life these days and, despite the peacefulness that would horrify my former self who thrived entirely on unpredictability, it’s surprisingly satisfying — as long as I don’t lose my love of crazy spontaneity. The time will come for that, when my kids are old enough that Jason and I can randomly take off on a random road trip to Chicago or a day of hiking the Bruce Trail or some weeks on a Costa Rican beach (yes, wouldn’t that be nice!). But now I find my pleasures in the small things, like that oft-mentioned latte and the zen of naps and having an excuse to go outside and look at icicles, and it’s very, very good.