I’d settled into a good routine. Get off work at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., go to the gym, and then get home by 6:00 to 6:30 in time for dinner with the family. Take care of the kids – giving them baths and cleaning up the house – and help herd them into bed by 8:30. Then my wife and I would have the evening to ourselves. That was the theory, and it was also the practice for a good long while.
And then Luke became a toddler.
You hear a lot about the terrible twos and the troublesome threes, but we’ve found that it’s the stretch from about 18 months to 2-1/2 years that is the hardest. Your kid goes from being a baby to a toddler, and suddenly has all these new emotions and ideas to express, but without the accompanying language skills. It leads to temper tantrums, frustrated screaming, and inconsolable crying … all of which is enough to try the patience of a saint. For mere mortals – particularly mortals who stay at home with the kids all day -- it can lead to parental meltdowns sometime between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Which is about when I’m at the gym.
Our solution to this problem is for me to come home immediately after work, which provides Sue with some much-needed relief from the howling horde that is our children. I then head to the gym either after we’ve put the kids to bed or (if I’m lucky) while Sue’s doing that task. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy putting the kids to bed and reading them their nightly stories – but that bedtime ritual means I don’t get to the gym until 8:30, and after spending 45 minutes there, followed by a quick shower, the night is shot.
Overall, this approach seems to be working. Things are much more peaceful at night, we’re able to eat earlier, weekly rituals – such as watching the Muppets or playing LEGO Star Wars – can be conducted earlier.
I’m hoping I can go back to working out immediately after work once Luke’s older, or when things calm down enough at the day job to consistently leave at 4 p.m., but for now, this is the plan.