Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Routine

Someone recently requested a day in the life post and I'd just been thinking that I should do one to preserve our current routine before summer messes it all up again. We've had such different ones along the way- from the baby Landon days in Chicago when I was in law school and JP was an investment banker with an hour+ commute each way; to the baby Claire days in Austin when I was at the firm and JP was in school, then coaching, then looking for a job, then working at a demanding job with another hour+ commute. And now we have a baby Cora in Fort Worth and I'm an attorney with the government and JP is a small business owner.

SEC baby!

The only thing that has stayed the same among the various cities and jobs and babies is that JP and I are 100% all in this crazy wonderful life together. While the percentage of the home and family duties we've shouldered has varied between us- it's really never 50-50, I've always known that he's doing all that he can, and he always knows that I'm doing the same. And when that's true, it's much easier to handle the days when it feels like I'm doing 90% of it and he's doing 10 or vice versa. I remember one day last summer when he was coaching SO much and was literally at the pool from sun-up to sun-down 6 days a week and he was seeing the kids for 5 minutes before bed and I was doing All The Things and it was hard on everyone, but I came home one random Tuesday evening to the dishwasher emptied, and I knew he had to have done it in the few minutes he'd stolen when he'd run home to get the sunglasses he'd left on the counter. Five minutes at home and what did he do- emptied the dishwasher we'd run that morning, because he knew I hated coming home to it full when I was trying to get dinner on and the kids fed. And it's those little extras, and the smile I got after I had sighed and opened the dishwasher and braced myself to start task #1 of many for the evening, that go so far in the crazy times. There really aren't any tasks that are mine v. his; there's just stuff that has to get done for the house and family to run and since we're the only two adults who live here, we always know that if one of is isn't doing something, the other is, and because we each like the other person, we each do everything we can. This works nearly all of the time, and even when it doesn't because one or both of us is too busy to do anything at all, it still works better than anything else.

my crew

But back to our current routine, which isn't particularly crazy, and is fairly evenly balanced for the time being. During the school year JP's lessons run from 1 pm to 6:30 pm each day, Monday-Friday. Luckily for our family, though unluckily for his business, the pool he uses Sept-May isn't open on weekends, so he's all ours on Saturday and Sunday (other than all the phone calls and emails he returns, but still, he does it here). Because he's gone every evening, he owns the mornings. I generally don't do a thing except get up, get ready, kiss the kids, and get out the door. He does the waking up, dressing, making breakfast, packing lunches, and driving and delivering of the children to the right schools at the right times. He comes back home, cleans up the kitchen, does random house stuff as needed (load or two of laundry, dishwasher, etc.) and then heads to the pool. And I do everything at night- pick up the kids, clean out lunch boxes, go through backpacks, make dinner, switch or fold laundry he started earlier, serve dinner, feed Cora, etc. Usually he gets home in the last 5 minutes of dinner, inhales it, and then gives the big kids their shower while I feed Cora. (We only do baths on weekends because they take forever and showers get everyone sparkling clean in less than 5 minutes; it's like a car wash in there and Cora usually swings through too.) One person does dishes while the other directs bedtime routine- pj's on, teeth brushed, hair combed. We gather together for books- these days Landon does all the reading, but Claire picks the books. Cora is passed between us all along the way. She usually goes down about 7:30 and the big kids are in bed by 7:45. JP and I chat while we finish cleaning up the kitchen if there wasn't time before books and then we retire to the TV room- JP with his laptop, me with my book, and we hang out there till 11ish when we go to bed. Sometimes we watch TV, but pretty rarely- he always has emails to return and scheduling or bookkeeping to do and he can only do it from the couch with me (instead of at his his desk in the separate sun room) if the TV is off. And since I'd much rather sit next to him than watch anything on TV, that's generally what we do, chatting on and off as the evening wears on and/or whenever he needs me to help him phrase an email to a client.

Cora and her helpers; morning and night

So as I said, things feel pretty balanced, but it's a new kind of balance for us- this complete division of a.m. and p.m. responsibilities. I'd rather be able to share everything at both times, but since that isn't possible with JP's evening swim lessons, this way works out well too. The hardest part was training myself not to jump in in the morning. If we oversleep or something, of course I do, but on a day-to-day basis, I need to get out the door so I can leave early enough to get Cora as early as I prefer and because I do everything at night and he's not physically present to jump in, keeping the division as separate in the a.m. as it is in the p.m. helps me to feel balanced. He has his way of doing things- it's not always mine, but it works and the stuff that matters- that the kitchen is clean when I get home, that the kids are at school on time, and that their lunches are good and healthy (JP has higher standards here than I do, so that one's a given), all gets done, even if it's done in a haphazard fashion that involves more rushing around than I could handle morning after morning. But everyone is happy and I love flitting around between them while I get my tea made and myself out the door- getting to give kisses and hugs and wish everyone good days while JP does the actual herding. And then I pay it all back in the evening when school papers litter the counter in between food prep and Cora is hungry at the exact time I need to be getting dinner in the oven so it can be done in time for bedtime. I had some adjusting when I first went back, but now that Cora has dropped that short evening nap and the weather is warmer so the big kids can be outside until dinner, my evenings are MUCH better. I actually get to enjoy most of them and no longer look at the clock quite so often to calculate the minutes until JP is home, which also means I'm a much nicer person when he walks in the door. Everyone is winning.

Sunday special bath!

The only wrinkles are the non-existent after-school activities that we probably need to get better about doing, but honestly, since JP is booked until 7 p.m. each night and I'd be doing them alone, the thought is overwhelming. Landon did basketball this past winter and JP just blocked out Tuesday nights in his schedule so he could take Landon while I stayed home with the girls. It meant giving up revenue and potential new clients, but with Cora a newborn, it was the only option. I don't know what we'll do going forward. I love our evenings at home together- love our family dinners and the kids playing outside while I cook and Cora helps me by sending smiles from her toy covered high-chair. I hated basketball nights, though we enjoyed the weekend games and Landon loved the sport in general. Mostly I think our generation tends to way overschedule kids, so I don't mind that we do the opposite of that, but JP and I were both athletes and we certainly don't want to deny our kids those opportunities forever. So we'll figure that out. Somehow. Later.

On Monday nights I go to 8:00 barre class after the kids are in bed, on Tuesday nights JP goes to 8:00 "fight night" for Krav Maga, and I usually go to barre at 7:30 on Thursdays because he gets home a half hour earlier on that night and the kids are only 15 minutes away from bed when I have to leave. We schedule the kids' doctor and dental appointments for the morning and he generally takes them. If we have a sick little one (a blessedly very rare event for us), he's home in the morning and I work a half-day and come home after lunch to play nurse/snuggler for the rest of the day. Business trips for me are a problem, and one we haven't really solved, but so far we've manage to patchwork something together when needed.

I actually took a quick business trip to Houston this Friday and it all worked out, but only because JP is done a little early on Fridays. I ended up jumping on a much earlier plane home and surprised everyone (and briefly scared the crap out of JP) by walking in the door just in time for a pre-bed game of Memory, a game that Cora takes very seriously:

Such focus

The principal gave Landon a medal for his writing and he was so proud and refused to take it off until he got in bed and we forced him to. Claire, as always, was delighted to have me back in the 3 foot radius that she prefers that all her family stay within. And I got to have Cora snuggled in my arms and JP by my side while I won second place in Memory, which is an unusually good showing for me. We tucked the kids in bed and watched Wolf of Wall Street (our Friday routine pretty much always involves a movie) and went to bed at the time my original flight home would have been landing in Dallas.


But back to the basic routine. It's a good one right now. I like that we both get to interact with the kids' teachers at school each day- JP in the morning and me at pick-up. I like that we both have flexibility in our schedules, that JP is home in the mornings, and that I can count on being home at a certain time in the evenings. We sneak in the occasional lunch date with each other, which I love, and in general, though I never saw these particular roles for us in the future, I love most of what they do for us and our family. Summer will screw things up- JP will be busier and at a pool with longer hours further away. Landon will be in various camps and I will be doing some of the morning driving and all of the Saturday care taking. But we'll leave that until then. For now, I'm up at about 6:30 am, down at about 11 pm, and all is working very well in the in between.


  1. I am also a (state) government lawyer with three kids and my husband works evenings and weekends, so our routine is very similar to yours! I have spend many T-Ball games chasing around our toddler! Now she will at least play in the dirt for the most part (which some parents are so judgmental about! I feel like it is just dirt. . .) My older daughter is on a competitive dance team and we all travel together for those competitions, but my husband has had to miss some of the local ones due to work. Anyway, it makes for a very busy but full life!

  2. My soon to be 7 year old does no activities outside of school right now. I am convinced that it is the right thing for her at this time (though I do feel guilty about it on a regular basis). She is one of the happiest and nicest kids I know, I have to say! I was also very athletic and involved. But there is time for that later.