Wednesday 14 June 2017

Our routine - a day in the life of our family

Ethan is well into his four's now and it's got me thinking about how we have a good routine (most days) that works for us, as two full time working parents and a preschooler who will be off to school in September, when a whole new world will open up to us, and a new routine will need to be established.

Now, routine is a word I think that's overused and can have a real negative association with it. From the moment our babies are born, as parents we're under pressure to 'establish a routine'. Strangers or family members ask 'is the baby in a good routine now?' or 'have you got the baby into a sleep pattern?'. It all gives first-time parents the impression that this is a) necessary, b) a template that all parents should follow and c) easy to put in place. For most of us, we quickly realise that this isn't the case.

With this all being said, I am the kind of person who likes to know what we are doing and when. I have relaxed over time - motherhood will do this to you if you are a hyper-organised type, but if you're laid back, it may have the reverse effect - and try to follow a certain flow each day, but at the same time, I try not to force anything or get too worried if things go off plan.

Ethan seems to get Mummy's need for a rough routine and has since I went back to work when he was eight months old. Lucky me!

A typical day in our house at the moment looks a bit like this...

6am - alarm goes off. One press of the snooze button later, and I'm up.

I plod downstairs in search of tea and feed the cats, check my phone (which I leave downstairs overnight to avoid distractions before bed) then head upstairs to shower.

6.30am I then settle myself at my dressing table, put the lamp on, and get myself ready, doing my make up whilst watching my iPad. This takes up to half an hour, as I try not to rush and want to enjoy my cuppa, followed by drying my hair and getting dressed. At some point during this, hubs emerges and starts his morning routine.

7.15am Once ready, it's time to let the dog out and fill his bowl with fresh food. I then pack our lunch bags for the day - more often than not, I haven't made anything in advance so I quickly whip a salad together, or we have last night's dinner leftovers to take with us to work.

If we're lucky, Ethan is still in bed so I go into him and start to try and stir him from his slumber. He sleeps through most nights without stirring, only occasionally waking or having a bad dream where he needs to be comforted or, sometimes, to come into our bed to settle.

When he wakes now, he asks us one question straight away - 'stay home?'. He's learning about the days of the week and likes to know what's on the agenda. Sometimes, he doesn't like the answer - it just depends what side of the bed he chooses to get out of.

It's hit and miss whether Ethan does wake up and agrees to play along with me; sometimes he insists that Daddy gets him dressed, other times he may have already woken up and I can wrestle him into his clothes, with minimal arguing, if I let him play some games on my iPad.

I change him (he still wears a nappy at night), get him dressed, comb his hair (which he loves - note the sarcasm) and then try to get a toothbrush in his mouth between sobs and before he realises it's that time again. A wet wipe to mop up the tears and toothpaste dribble, and we are on our way downstairs (turning around again as Mummy has forgotten something - usually his shoes or his PE kit).

8am (if we're  doing well...) We all scramble in the car, Ethan saying 'I can do it myself Mummy', and the car journey to preschool, all of five minutes away, is generally calm whilst we talk to Ethan about his day ahead and how he will be a good boy.

8.10am We pop into preschool, saying hello to the Ethan's friends and updating the key worker on how he's been. Most days, he runs off to get his breakfast, sitting at the kitchen diner, with a wave over his shoulder, 'bye Mummy and Daddyyyyy!'. Most days.

8.20am Ste and I often pop to Asda on the way to work, to pick up a drink or something, then we go out separate ways to work.

8.30am On my way into the city, some days are better than others, but generally, it should take no more than half an hour in the morning for me. I listen to Radio One despite the fact I dislike Nick Grimshaw and don't really like 80% of the music. I just don't feel ready for Radio Two and I hate the commercial stations for all the ads!

9am I'm at work and ready to start my day. Catch up on emails, check my appointments, update my diary, plan what I need to do. No two days are ever really the same.

12-1pm  I have a fair bit of flexibility in my work so I can plan my day and take lunch when I want to. I do like to try to get away from my desk, if I have been in front of the computer a lot, so I go for a walk or run any other errands that I wouldn't get to do until Saturday otherwise. Either that or I eat my sandwich / salad / leftovers from the night before with one hand whilst typing with the other.

4pm At the moment, I can leave as and when my schedule suits which is a real relief and again, if I am lucky, I can get a head start on the worst of the traffic out of the city.

4.45pm I have been trying to pick Ethan up a little earlier, over the summer while I have the chance, from preschool. I still sneak in, trying to get a look at him playing with his friends before he spots us.

5pm We often pop to Asda again, to pick up things we need for dinner, and Ethan insists on visiting the toys upstairs.

5.30pm After chatting in the car about our days, we get home, let the dog out and let Ethan take control of the lounge. Picking out his toy of choice, we leave Ethan to get settled whilst hubs and I feed the pets, get dressed into our comfy's / PJ's, then I start dinner and hubs goes to play with Ethan.

Ethan usually has a cheese and marmite sandwich, cherry tomatoes and cucumber as a snack / supper, but this is rarely all that he will eat. He's never full and will probably ask another 378 times for 'something else' as he's 'still hungry!'.

6pm We tend to have dinner in the lounge and will watch something together.

6.30-8pm Ethan plays really well by himself but does like to know where we are or get us involved with what he's doing. Lego Batman is his current favourite, which he got for his birthday, and we do have the TV on but it's usually background for most the evening, as he gets really involved in what he's playing with.

7.30pm Bath time! We give him a bath every two to three days, because he has sensitive skin and I think you can over-wash and cause skin issues to flair up. He plays with his pirate finger puppets and often argues with us, not wanting to get out when it's time.

8pm Shrivelled like a prune, we get Ethan into his PJ's, comb his hair then one of us hugs him goodnight. Hubs and I have been taken turns at bedtimes for a couple of years - really, ever since he was a toddler and not a baby any more. Whoever is on duty sits on the floor next to his bed and reads one story - hubs' rendition of Supertato is a-mazing - or I let him watch one episode of Wild Kratts on Netflix, before we play some music and he drifts off to sleep. This can be anywhere between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, if he's particularly fidgety or resistant.

If it's hubs' turn, I come downstairs, tidy up some toys, make myself a cup of tea then settle down to do something for me; be it watch something I can't around Ethan (Orange Is The New Black, series five, right now) or read a book, catch up on blogs, do some more work - whatever needs doing.

9/9.30pm If it's my turn, I'm up there in Ethan's room for a good hour / hour and a half, even sometimes two, as he doesn't seem to take Mummy so seriously.

10/11pm Then, touch wood, hubs and I can put something on together or just enjoy some quiet, quality time before going to bed. I'll take my make up off in bed whilst we watch something like Modern Family.

It won't take me long to drift off to sleep. Minutes really. Seconds often.

And Ethan will sleep through, bar for the odd night where he wakes crying in the middle of the night, needing a quick cuddle before settling down again.

Then it's 'BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP' and it's time to do it all again.


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