One day a couple weeks ago Nathan and I sat down to have a talk because evenings were not going well and everyone ended up fighting (us), pouting (kids), and just miserable (everyone).
We decided to revamp our evening routine and see if that made a difference. It will soon be changing again because he starts winter hours (he works at a local university) but while the timing may our new routine won't.
Our old schedule was that he got home from work and I am frantically trying to have dinner ready and on the table, so therefore I'd have one or two or even three crying kids wanting something - a snack, to help, etc. I'd try to send them off to play but that's when chaos would ensue and something would happen that I'd have to stop what I was doing and stop a fight, clean up a mess, etc. Nathan would get home, dinner would be ready, the kids would want to be seeing him, I'd be yelling that dinner is ready let's eat and it was just craziness. pure craziness. Then because dinner was early the kids wouldn't really be hungry, so they wouldn't want to eat, soon they would be begging to get down from the table and we would let them just to enjoy peace while we ate. Then we'd clean up and all of a sudden one of them would be hungry, and we'd get distracted with something outside or a project. Soon the evening is gone and the most important thing had not been done - Bible lessons with daddy.
It just was not working out.
So we decided to revamp things a bit.
Now when Nathan gets home, he greets everyone with a hug and kiss. And we have our 10 minutes of couch time to catch up on the day. Really that's just where I spend 10 minutes recapping our day here at home, who behaved well, who did I have problems with, funny things happened, etc. This way he feels like he was part of our day and knows what to expect throughout the evening (no nap=cranky baby or something along that line). Then after couch time, he heads upstairs to change clothes and teach Bible lessons with the three little ones while I uninterrupted make dinner. It's wonderful! So dinner is being pushed back about an hour but it's working well. The children are hungrier so they are eating better, which means snack time before bed is truly that a snack and not another meal. One thing we are finding with this new schedule is that we are more apt to leave the dishes in the sink after dinner because once we are all done eating it's easier to just go enjoy family time outside instead of rushing to lessons while I clean up. But summer will be gone before we know it so for now I'm ok with leaving the dishes until after bedtime I'm sure in the winter when activities are inside it will be easier for one of us to clean up quicker.
We are both thrilled with how well this is going, of course not every night is going to happen this way and Thursdays for instance don't because I have ladies bible study that I attend. But knowing that this is our new normal has been extremely helpful in getting things accomplished and makes the entire evening more enjoyable.
It won't work for everyone and that's fine. You have to find what works best for YOU and your family. I was trying to fit my family into an ideal that I thought I had to and it was a disaster. You as a family have to stand on your own two feet because each of you is so unique that it makes your own family unique and special.
Just another example of how thankful I am for Nathan and our open lines of communication, if we hadn't been willing to sit down and admit that something wasn't working and we needed to fix it our evenings would still be a mess and everyone would be miserable. Praise God for that!
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