Summers of my childhood were fairly unstructured except for the long family vacations we took in the car and camping. I remember lots of going to the library and pool, eating popsicles, and running through sprinklers. One summer later in elementary school, I attended the city run summer camp for a session. After that I either worked or was scheduled.
My wife and I have had our summer zoom by. We trade off getting work done with taking care of the kids. We finally scheduled in a few days to have family outings before the summer disappears completely, but it is a far cry from my memories of driving as a family to mountains or beach and camping there together.
Perhaps there was a lot more hectic planning that I never saw, perhaps my memories are seen through rose tinted lenses, and perhaps we will do more of this when my son is a tad older. I wonder what my daughter’s perception of this summer is.
Thursday, my son awoke at 6:00 and was clearly needing attention. Neither I nor my wife were in much of a mood to get up, and micro snuggles were not a very restful solution. I eventually got up with him and took him downstairs to allow at least two people in the house to get some rest. I lay on the sofa as my son traveled between me and the playroom as he happily navigated the morning.
Usually on Wednesdays, I get up with my son and sometimes my daughter joins us. I get them through changes and breakfast as I get myself ready to go to school. An amazing family at our daughter’s preschool gives her a ride home after her extended day, and she joins the nanny share of my son and another kid his age. I then get dinner started, and my wife arrives from her work to pitch in with dinner, bath, and bed.
This Wednesday was anything but routine. My daughter chose to stay in bed, thank goodness that she got more sleep, and my son was cranky. He is usually a delight in the morning. My wife dropped kids off at school and nanny share, but then had to return to get my son to a house in our babysitting co-op. I then left work a smidge early to collect my daughter from school and hop the bus to get my son. By the time we got home from there, all three of us were exhausted. For dinner, I fed the kids their lunchtime sandwiches which both had not eaten, and then I crashed on the couch while they played for a while. My son took ten second naps on my chest as a game, but he was also communicating he was tired. I peeled myself up and got the kids in the bath at which point my wife got home from her very long day. We got them through the end of bedtime routine on a day that was far from routine.
It is good to get something so different once in a while to give a bit of perspective on what our routine is and if it is working. As I write this on Wednesday night, however, I am too tired to make any sense of the day. It happened, it worked, and I’m ready for bed.
Six days a week, I get up with my children when they get up. My son is the early riser, and he usually asserts his wakefulness on the rest of us between 5:30 and 6:00. We tried for a while to have him go until 7:00, but his screaming and kicking the wall just didn’t fade, so I go into the kids’ room, get him out of bed and offer my daughter the choice to catch a bit more sleep or to come downstairs with us. Usually she chooses to come downstairs. Depending on the day I either sink into punctuated oblivion on the couch or gear up to get out the door for work.
Saturday is the one day that I don’t get up with the kids. My wife, who is not a morning person, gets up with them after I let her know they are awake. She then gets them downstairs and lets me have the morning off. Often, I am not able to get back to sleep, but the break from being on in the morning is welcome. This Saturday, I drifted between crazy daydreams and children screams. My daughter was over-excited because her birthday celebration was happening, and both kids were wound up with my mom’s visit and departure and my father-in-law’s visit. Both were showing their excitement quite clearly and loudly. I need to find a better use of that time than pretending to sleep.
…Have them join you. We have tried to establish a 7:00 start to the day with our kids. My daughter will sleep until 7:00 or later some days if given a chance, but our human-powered alarm clock won’t let her or anyone else in the house sleep that late. He has been more and more insistent about getting attention as early as 5:30 in the morning. This starts with the dropping of the pacifier on the wood floor, escalates through talking and singing, and reaches a sustained apogee with screaming and kicking the wall. I tried, a while ago, to move his bed away from the wall, but that resulted in him falling out. Finally, I decided to get up with him on Thursday morning to at least give my wife and daughter a chance to sleep in. Of course he chose to get up on the earliest side of his range, so I was groggily trying to change him, feed him, and recline on the sofa while he tried to engage me in games at 5:30 in the morning. I will do this again, but I also moved his bed away from the wall again. We’ll see how this goes on a morning when I am actually trying to get myself out the door.
Our usual bedtime routine involves a bath along with books, tooth brushing, and much more. Wednesday both my wife and I were bone tired. We used the shortened routine that skips the bath. Though altering the routine can have consequences, neither of us had the energy to handle the demands of a full bath experience with the kids. They may smell a bit more on Thursday, but we will all be a bit more sane.
Sunday started at 5:00 in the morning. My son has taken to waking up then regardless of how dark it is outside or how asleep the rest of the house is. He is convinced it is time to get up. I pulled him from the room before he could wake my daughter and put her in a grumpy mood for the day. We quietly went downstairs where I gave him some milk and cereal and pondered a day starting at 5:00. I just wasn’t ready for that, so I made him a “bed” on the carpet. I put a blanket and pillow down and asked him to lie down. He did, and I put another blanket over him while telling him that the clock had not yet turned green. We have a clock in the kids’ room that turns green at 7:00, our hoped for wake up time. It was still yellow, so I told my son yellow means sleep some more. He did not sleep, but he did get into the idea of resting. He rested in the makeshift bed, he rested on the armchair, he rested his head on my legs, he rested all over the place. I think this is a step in the right direction.