Many years ago, I remember my evening routine as being something like this: Eat something good. Relax with a good book, maybe take a hot bath, snuggle into bed with a good book, turn out the light when I was too tired to read anymore. My main complication was that I didn't always get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
I was pondering the comparison between this and my present evening routine this week. Here's a sample of my present evening routine:
Make something good to eat. Repeatedly shoo small people back to table to eat it. ("You guys, remember, when supper is finished, you're not going to eat again until morning." "I want more smoovie!") Gulp down a little smoothie myself between cleaning up disasters and mediating between little people. ("Sethie talked to me!") Wash sticky little hands and faces and put some water in the bathtub. Undress small bodies and shoo toward potty, then soap and rinse one by one. ("Please quit splashing water all over the floor. Stop pouring water over your brother!") Go find pajamas for everyone. Towel off slippery, wriggling bodies, and release them to dash around the house briefly, squealing. ("Mommy, I a noonist!") Then diaper and dress sweet-smelling little bodies appropriately. Mop up bathroom floor with towel reserved for that purpose. (Don't ask me why it always ends up sopping wet.) Shoo leaping little bodies toward couch. ("But I hungwy, Mommy!" "No, you're confused. Supper is over.") Fill Sippy cups for bed, and bring pacifiers and clothies (Seth's comfort--cloth diapers) to couch to help calm little people down. Shoo everyone back to couch. Sing a few songs. (Skyler's plea every night right now is, "I wan' sing, 'Sing, sing, sing, sout, sout, sout, I gon' sing, I gon' sout, pwaise da Yord!--wan' sing dat song!") Read "stowies" while hugging writhing small bodies, disciplining when necessary to preserve some semblance of order. ("But it's my turn to sit on you yap!" "No, I wan' sit on Daddy's yap!") Then it's time to wrestle little squirmers down while I brush two small mouthfuls of teeth (Anaya brushes her own). This necessitates some creativity, by the way, since I need the small mouths to be open. I used to have them sing the chorus of "Angels We Have Heard On High." Gloooooria... But then I realized that someday they were going to be in church and when the hymn was announced, someone would be sure to bellow, "The toothbrushing song!" Hence, we abandoned that method. Currently I request animal sounds. "What does a baby lion say?" "ROWR!" "What does a big bear say?" "ROOOOWR!" "What about a baby monkey?" "HOO-HOO-HAHAHA-HEE-HEE!" The atmosphere is rather zoolike already.
Then, depending on the rambunctiousness of the evening and the time of night it is by now, events vary. Skyler usually goes to bed first (because putting both boys to bed at the same time provides severe temptation for small giggling people to leap around on beds instead of snuggling into them). Seth and Anaya get a more advanced bedtime story after he retreats for the evening. Usually I lie down with him, sing him a song ("When He Cometh" is his special song), tell him a "talking stowy," (which consists of telling about a little boy with brown eyes and tiny nose and tiny toes, who grows up to read the Bible and teach other people to love Jesus, until Jesus comes in the clouds to take him and everybody he loves flying up to heaven), and help him pray.
In the meantime, Daddy is reading and/or acting out stories with Anaya and Seth. When all is finished, they, too, are trundled off to bed for "talking stowies" and prayers. After all of this, two parents collapse in a heap to recuperate and catch up on cleaning, emails, reading and such for an hour or so before we crawl into bed ourselves.
It's hard to remember what it was like to be a lady of leisure, relaxing at the end of a long day instead of dragging myself through the hectic routine.
But I'll tell you a strange secret: I like this routine better.