Monday through Thursday, we enact a carefully choreographed dance, working together to make and eat dinner, put The Dude to bed, and get ready to do it all again the next day. Here’s how it goes (exact timing varies slightly):
5:00 Matthew takes the lead on dinner, starting prep as soon as he gets home from work. At a minimum, we discuss dinner plans during the day, but we’re trying to sit down on Sunday and sketch out a rough meal plan for the week. Some sort of plan helps things run much more smoothly than the arrive home from work, hungry and tired, and stare in the fridge asking “What’s for dinner?” approach.
6:10 Gabriel and I arrive, and Matthew spends a few minutes with him (mostly involving a potty opportunity and a nice, thick diaper). I change, hang up my clothes, use the bathroom, and grab a drink of water.
6:20 The Dude and I snuggle up on the couch, and he eats his dinner/bedtime snack. Meanwhile, Matthew continues working on dinner.
Assembling a new lasagna
6:40 Once Gabriel finishes eating, we head to the bedroom. We sing his bedtime lullaby, and I lay him down for the night. On good nights he goes down without a peep, on so-so nights, 5-10 minutes of crying, during which I agonize over all the things that I may have done wrong in the bedtime routine while anxiously awaiting the quiet.
6:45 I return to the kitchen and jump in where needed to get dinner on the table ASAP. Most nights this happens between 7:00 and 7:30, but some nights we’re pushing 8:00, which would just be quaint and European, except we’re trying to go to bed by 9:30, which doesn’t leave much time to digest, not to mention taking care of the after dinner stuff.
7:15 Light candles, set table, and sit down to dinner.* If we’re lucky, we’re not too tired to enjoy the delicious food in front of us.
7:50 Pack lunches for next day (usually leftovers from the previous night’s meal), complete some minimal kitchen cleanup (I’m trying to improve on this, but things tend to pile up until the weekend), and put away dinner leftovers.
This concludes the “dinner” portion of the night. In the remaining time, we grab a few minutes relaxing on the couch with books, use our neti pots, and have a bit of dessert (if we’re hungry having just finished dinner).** I like to have things all wrapped up, including brushing, flossing, and last call in the bathroom by 9:00 if possible, leaving a few more minutes to read in bed before lights out.
*The fact that Gabriel is not at the table with us for dinner really bugs me, because family meals are important for establishing good eating habits. Unfortunately, given my current work schedule and his current bedtime (which may sound incredibly early, but really seems to work for him), our options are limited.
**Some nights we also engage in fun extracurricular activities during this time, like hanging the diapers 😉