275 + 177 + 44 weeks
David gets home from work between 6 and 6:30 most nights. I try to have dinner ready around then or shortly after. Our family eats dinner together as often as possible, even though it’s pretty late. The kids pick up their toys while one of us clears the table, then everyone starts getting ready for bed.
The baby gets a bath every night, as we want him to be very clear that this is bedtime. Maintaining that evening routine for the first couple years of each kid’s life is one of the best parenting choices we’ve ever made; the girls have no problem going straight to bed and RARELY come out of their room once they’re down. Now that they know the drill, they only bathe every other night or so. If David is home (sometimes he’s out of town or works late) he takes care of baths.
We help the kids get dry and dressed, brush hair, and settle in for story time. Again, this is usually David’s job. After a story, I read a few verses of scripture, then we say family prayers. The girls kiss their daddy goodnight and I escort them to bed with sippy cups of ice water. David plays with the baby for a few minutes while I tuck them in, sing them a song, and kiss them goodnight. I turn out the lights and turn on the box fan (hooray for air circulation and white noise) then go take baby boy to his room. He nurses for a few minutes till he’s drowsy or asleep. I put him down and close the door.
Then our kid-free evening begins.
On Mondays, we watch Netflix while folding laundry. (Lately we’ve been binging on Bob’s Burgers.)
Tuesdays are often work nights. I edit photos or write blog posts while David heads into the garage to sew. (He makes tactical gear and bags and stuff like that, usually on a contract basis for a local company but sometimes for individuals.)
The rest of the week we play by ear. On any given night we might watch a movie, read, binge on social media, or talk for hours. Usually there are treats involved: OREOs or something I baked or David will go on a milkshake run. The kitchen usually gets cleaned up and the dishwasher started at some point. We start getting ready for bed around 10. We pray together before rolling to opposite sides of our California kind bed and falling asleep.
David snores sometimes. I get up with kids who need something in the middle of the night. Mostly it works for us.
Sometimes the evening routine gets disrupted slightly. David will be out of town and I’ll run things solo. I’ll have plans for the evening–Bunco is once a month, or I’ll meet a friend for ice cream, or I’ll go to a blogger event–so he’ll take care of things on his own.
Every now and then we get a sitter or grandma will come over so we can go out for dinner. We haven’t been to a movie in ages; I think the last time we saw something in the theater was when the new Star Wars came out. Before that, who even knows. Date nights are rare, unless you count all the nights we spend together at home. (I don’t, but that’s mostly because we spend most nights together at home. It hardly feels special when it’s an everyday thing. Nice, but not different.)
At any rate, our nights are predictable and kind of boring. I’m not complaining. I like having someone to stay in with. Our evening routine is one of the few things I can rely on to go fairly smoothly every day.
That said, I really enjoy those rare times when we go out, just the two of us. Eat at a restaurant the kids would hate, then drive around listening to Bjork’s latest album. It keeps things interesting and helps us remember that we are interesting people outside of our roles as parents.
Mostly, though, I’m happy with boring. I’m so grateful to be married to someone who is happy to sit on the couch with me, watching clips from Jimmy Fallon or sharing stupid BuzzFeed listicles and funny gifs back and forth. I’m grateful I married a man who is comfortable talking about everything from politics to pop culture. I love that we can make each other laugh every single day.
(I also really like that he gives me frequent, unsolicited foot rubs.)
This is where we are after three kids and nearly nine years. I’m sure our evening routine will change, as things always do. The kids will be more self-sufficient and we will be able to escape more often. But the kids will also have more evening activities of their own, which will require adjustments on our end. We adapt. When it’s not working, we discuss and make changes and try again.
That’s true for every aspect of our relationship, though. It’s what keeps us moving forward, still on the same team.
I’m glad we don’t need to be always doing exciting things to enjoy each other’s company. Exciting and new is fun. But comfortably boring can be pretty great too.
What does your evening routine look like? If you have kids, do you each take on certain responsibilities or do you take turns? Do you go to bed early? Late? At the same time? How often do you get to go out on dates? And if you have multiple children who aren’t old enough to be left home alone, how do you make that work? (Seriously, I’d love ideas.)