First, a quick shout-out to all of you who gave me ideas and atta-girl you-can-do-it comments about traveling with my preschooler—everything worked out perfectly, and we had an absolutely wonderful time. Thank you so much!
Today I’d like to talk about evening routines, and what sorts of things help mitigate the chaos. As a quick primer to my thrilling home life, we have two boys: a 3.5 year old and a 15-month-old. Here’s our typical end-of-day routine, along with the items I’ve come to rely on:
6 PM or so: DINNERTIME
Take & Toss cups/bowls. I wish there was some great product that magically made dinnertimes easier, like somehow ensured both my kids actually ATE something with nutritional value instead of smearing crap all over the place (the baby) and refusing everything but peanut butter crackers (the preschooler), but these plastic cups and bowls have long been a staple in our house. They’re great for storing/serving snacks, they’re spillproof, they last forever despite their “disposable” description, they’re BPA-free if you care about that, and they stack nicely so they don’t take up a ton of room.
6:30 PM - 7:15 PM: WITCHING HOUR
Oball. Oh, you know the witching hour, right? When it’s too early for bed and dinner’s over with and the kids are just sort of craaaaaaaazy and your husband insists on trying to watch the news? Well, there’s no one toy that keeps my boys entertained during this vein-bulging time of day, but they are both obsessed with balls and will chase this Oball all over the house for entire minutes, at least until someone bonks their head on a table or something and starts screaming. Every kid needs an Oball, they’re perfect for little hands and it doesn’t hurt to get smacked in the face with one.
I also recommend putting on music and dancing during the witching hour, especially if the kids have driven you up a wall and you’re about to go nuclear. It’s a stress reliever and the sight of a toddler shaking their tiny butt never fails to diffuse frustration. A current favorite in our house is Fatboy Slim’s “Wonderful Night”, which is especially awesome if you and your kids watch this video together.
Dr. Bronner’s soap. I love the Dr. Bronner brand because they’re all natural, they smell good, and of course the bottle is pretty entertaining reading. I’m not really a rabid consumer of organic personal-care stuff but there’s been some creepy news lately about kids’ bath products containing formaldehyde, so . . . you know, there’s that. Dr. Bronner contains natural oils and fragrances (not GHB!) and the company is really kind of fascinating. Did you know the founder was institutionalized in an insane asylum in 1945, undertook shock treatment, and escaped before creating his soap company three years later? Kind of explains a bit about the kooky stuff on the label.
7:45 BEDTIME FOR THE TODDLER
Carter’s “Super Comfy” Pajamas. I can’t seem to find these exact pajamas online, but they’re really soft fleece footie pj’s with no-slip feet. They’ve been great for cool nights and they make Dylan all snuggly and extra-nommy.
8:30 BEDTIME FOR THE PRESCHOOLER
The Going to Bed Book. This has been one of my favorite books to read to Riley at night. It’s really short, so now that he’s older I’ll often read something else first, but we like to turn each page and say the words together. I love the soothing bit at the end:
The moon is high. The sea is deep.
Okay, tell me about evenings in your house! What sorts of things are a part of your routine?