A couple of years ago a bunch of Singaporean mothers did a blog train on the after hours of a full time working mum. I thought it was most insightful to read how others made the years work that in Finnish are called ruuhkavuodet, “the rush hour years”.
Even though I find our weeks busy, I am starting to think that life is getting easier. Maybe it is just that we have pretty good routines now? Maybe the reason is that our children now at the age of 5 and 6 are so much more self-sufficient when it comes to eg getting dressed than they were 3 years ago when I went from a stay at home mum to a working one? Or maybe it is just that I am pretty relaxed about not having time now for everything I’d like (like the annual Baltic Herring Market)?
Anyway, as my husband works a week away and then is home for a week, our schedules change weekly. We all, even the children, have gotten used to him coming and going (but the first half a year after he changed his work rhythm was tough in many ways). Getting a routine has made life easier, and gradually we have been able to accommodate our children on their wishes for a scheduled hobby (or two) in a week. I have also added studies to the equation. All of this is fun but also energy consuming.
On the weekends we all need some down time, some unplanned time when we can, as a family, do a picnic, have a stroll in the forest, go swimming. We also need time to do simple enjoyable things that don’t require much effort like to read, draw (or design clothes), build with legos or play games together. Our kids are quite creative on their own and they have paper, scissors, glue, pearls, sticky tape, paint etc available for them and they think of much more amazing things to make than I could ever suggest. Like the museum they made (and then what our living room looked like):
As week evenings are short, weekends are also the time to see friends. Often these seem more important than participating in all the interesting (often free) events that are out there but obviously occasionally we’ve been to theatre, circus, concerts etc just like before.
When my amazing hubby is home, he does all the daycare and preschool runs, picks the kids up early and has our son home 2 days a week, and takes care of most of the home chores etc. His efforts at home and chauffeuring our children enables me to accumulate some overtime these weeks without actually prolonging my day (instead of daycare pick up or grocery shopping I work). We try to eat together around 6 pm, try to have about 30 minutes to read in the evening and usually the kids go to sleep about at 8pm. Me and my husband still share the evening routines and the time after kids bed time: we have a couple of sofa dates a week, we share taking kids to their hobbies and having one-on-one time with them (and do inventive stuff like peel a carrot as per requested by the child), and we take turns in putting kids to bed so that the one not reading for them can have an evening off eg catching up with friends or doing our own hobbies. He accommodates me, if my studies require more time for me.
The weeks I play the single mum (there is a big difference to a real single mum since my husband does loads every second week meaning that it is alright if I fall behind on duties while alone, we’ll catch up. Not to mention dual income. My fullest respect to those who really do it all themselves!) are more intensive : We get up at 6.30am, I take kids to daycare/preschool by car, walk from there to work (still ride my bike when I am not going via daycare), am mostly able to organise my work so that I can use bank hours and have shorter days than I should (supportive employer!), then walk back to the car and pick the kids up. One of the children dances on Monday nights and the other one has drum lessons on Tuesday nights. These days I pick them up, give them a quick snack, take them straight to their hobby. While one is at the hobby, the other one has my full attention. Lately we’ve been doing a lot of writing then together.
We get home shortly after 6 pm to eat. Because of the squeezed schedule I/we usually cook a soup or a casserole on Sunday (often putting a portion in the freezer too so that I have something defrost if I am busy on Sunday evening), which we then can just heat up. No gourmet here but the same basic healthy home cooked meal for two nights. Wednesdays and Thursdays we are usually home around 4.30-5 pm (unless there are play dates or errands to run) and Fridays I try to finish earlier to give us time to do something together.
When we come home at 4.30-5pm, there is an hour to do something, cook, watch children’s tv programmes, play… at 6 pm we eat. After the meal I usually ask them to wash and put their pj’s on before they are too tired, if they are quick we have more time to play. Around 7-7.15pm we start our evening story, cuddles and chat time. Normally we do that for half an hour, then it is time for them to sleep. The younger one is ready to sleep at 7.30pm and the older one may still read in bed for a while but towards the end of the week she is quite happy to go to sleep then too. When kids are in bed, it’s time for the home chores I haven’t done, yoga or pilates (at home as obviously I can’t leave the children alone) and/or studies. If I need/have time to wind off, it will mostly be done reading or knitting.
I find the time I have on week evenings together with the children very limited but there is still time to see each other and talk about the day as well as time for me. I’ve learned to plan things ahead eg grocery shopping (as I can’t just pop out after bedtime) and to ask friends and neighbours to help when the schedules don’t work out (lovely to have such big kids that they can easily go to their friends for a couple of hours. Of course this is a two way street, so often I also pick up more kids from daycare/preschool).
This is life and I am lucky to say it is not a bad one.
I’d be quite interested in reading how your days look like (with or without children), so please leave a link in the comments if you write about it! You are also welcome to share your day in the comments.