I struggle with evenings, I really do. It’s partly that I want to log off of my parenting work after the dinner dishes are (mostly) done, and partly that I dread our bedtime routine when someone is scared* – and that’s a often lately.
So the time after dinner but before bed is open for everyone to be at loose ends. The kids always find something loud to do, like living room wrestling, while George and I try to talk. When I have kindness left in my heart, I tell myself they’re out of ideas and getting tired, but want to be nearby.
After some discussion, because I brought it up, we decided to move dinner to 5:30pm. Our standard has been 6:15/6:30 because George used to work til 5:30 and then drive home, and his arrival time wavered with traffic. But here we are, trying to find some cooler hours to walk the neighborhood together, and we’ve overlooked this easy window. (George says he’d rather walk first, after a long day of seated work, and then eat the plate of food we’ve saved him if he’s in the office all day. So even that part worked out.)
Last night we tried it, adding some movement directly after dinner. The dishes did not get done, sigh, but we spent an hour tooling the neighborhood on various wheel-and-foot combinations. We all felt spent before bed, and everyone fell asleep easily.
I got up this morning to make us a post-dinner schedule, because the kids want to bike, swim and walk too. And we used to do family soccer or basketball at the park… so we’re mixing it all up. I’m not sure if I’ll end up putting one of them in charge of route or mode, but we’ve been looking for things to do and HERE THEY ARE!
Sunday – Soccer/basketball at playground
Monday – Walk
Tuesday – Bike ride to pool + swim
Wednesday – Walk
Thursday – Bike ride
Friday – Walk before pizza night dinner
Saturday – Bike ride
If we have dessert to eat, we’ll eat it afterwards. And we do clear off the table before we go, so it’s easy to throw out art supplies when we return. So far, it all feels like a win.
*My partner and I split up to read to our kiddos in their beds, and lay with them while they fall asleep most nights. Our kids work through nighttime fears very regularly, and it just feels gentle and right to sleep alongside them.