By 6pm most days, Brent and I are both flat out tired. A hectic day in the office or dealing with children who refuse to nap can leave either (or both) of us in no mood to do anything but get dinner made, teeth brushed, and children to bed so that we have a little time to decompress before we have to do it all again.
Brent likes to joke that sometimes parenthood is like the movie Groundhog Day. You wake up, you get kids dressed, you pour bowls of cereal, you change diapers, wipe noses, pick up toys and so on, over and over again. While there are plenty of beautiful, memory-worthy moments in our lives, our reality is weeks and months of predictability and repetition. Sometimes, it starts to drive us crazy.
We embrace the benefits of our tried and true routine, but Brent and I get really itchy for the spontaneity of our youth. It’s not that we want to be 23 again, it’s just that we’d like a little more of the flexibility we had then. We long to change things up and do something new, even within the constraints of our life with two toddlers. We’re not looking to jet off to Paris on a whim with the kids (although now that I mention it, that does sound amazing!), but even something as small as a trip across town to ride the carousel at our favorite park can do wonders for our spirits.
With the coming of spring, the daylight is already beginning to linger just a little longer in the evenings and we have tried to make good use of it. We’ve been eating early, quick dinners (hello crockpot!) so that we can pack up and go get frozen yogurt for dessert. Or we’ve given the kids a late afternoon snack and spent the last light of day running around at the Art Museum Park followed by a late dinner. We’ve been pushing their bed times just a little later too as we attempt to toe the line between wearing them out but not tipping them over into exhausted meltdown territory.
We’ve been encouraging Everly to think of places that she would like to go or things that she would like to see and then trying to making it happen. Anything to get us out of the house instead of making excuses as to why we should probably just stay home. We are very good at convincing ourselves that it’s easier to stay put (because often, it is!) but once we are out, we are always glad to be there.
We are trying to have a “Let’s do it!” mentality, even though we know that it sometimes comes with a price. All those moments spent out and about are moments that we aren’t tending to those sometimes tedious (but necessary!) responsibilities that can fill up our days - bath time, laundry, dishes. So part of this change in mindset is also learning to just accept that and adjust. It means kids who sometimes get a good wipedown with a wash cloth before bed instead of a bath or having a kitchen that is rarely presentable to company. Adding a little more spontaneity also has added a little more chaos, but it’s manageable and we think the trade-off is worth it. Like everything else in life, we are trying to find the balance.
The whole family is benefiting from this concerted effort to build more out-of-the-house activity into our week day routine. The kids are sleeping better and we all are genuinely in better moods. Being spontaneous and adventurous with children is on a much smaller scale than the get-up-and-go of our past, but its effects are just as positive. It’s been helpful in making our days less groundhoggy and a little more unpredictable in a good way.