In an ideal world, dismissal ends promptly at 3:30 and I am able to scoot upstairs for maybe 30 minutes of organizational work before briskly walking across the parking lot to my son's school for pick up. My personal goal for this second quarter of school is to be walking out the doors by 4:00 each afternoon (barring extenuating circumstances like meetings or insanely high piles of papers to be graded...)
Upon arrival home, we put away shoes and jackets, let out dogs, and dress down into something more comfy for the evening. I tend to start meal-prepping within the first thirty minutes of arriving home because my son is ravenous by 5:00 or 5:30. I strive to offer him healthy and lighter meals, because his lunches tend to be very filling at his school. Think meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pizza, etc. Depending on his mood, dinner can be anywhere from oatmeal with fruit and milk to chicken or fish with more traditional dinner sides. To save my sanity, Mondays are always, always breakfast-for-dinner. He loves any sort of breakfast food, so scrambled eggs or French toast are always a great option after a long and wild Monday.
While he eats his dinner, I sit with him, have a glass of water, and eat a small snack like cucumbers and cheese or hummus and crackers. I'm generally not hungry enough for dinner when he is but I value and understand that quality time together, which is why I sit and eat with him. Oftentimes, Josh will be home between 6:00 and 8:00, so I have someone to share dinner with anyways. I will also use this time to grind beans and load the coffee maker before bedtime I need recommendations for a better grinder... ours is so loud!
Once dinner is wrapped (around 5:30-45), it is either bath/play time or it is just playtime. I am striving to leave my phone behind during this time together as we play. He really enjoys stacking blocks, playing with age-appropriate puzzles, and chasing or wrestling. If Daddy is home, you can bet it is wrestlemania for the next 30 minutes.
I try to let him dictate his bedtime to some degree, but he tends to start acting very tired by 6:00 or 6:30. When he starts resting his head on his dinosaur rather than tackling it, I know it's time for our bedtime routine. After several months of work, I'm so proud of his ability to fall asleep on his own each night after some time calm, gentle time together.
Once he is down, I will prepare adult dinner while listening to a podcast. I also try to maximize my time by picking up while things are heating up or baking. Laundry, sweeping, dishes... a little bit each day goes a long way. After dinner is done and cleared away, I allow myself time and space to relax. I try to avoid any work after 7:30 in the evening, giving myself two hours to enjoy a show, book, or podcast. Sometimes I will color, fold laundry, or another less demanding task while enjoying some form of entertainment.
By 9:00, I park myself in bed and start winding down by reading. I'm working on less scrolling while waiting for sleep to come (working on being the operative phrase here...)
When Josh is home, it is a similar evening although I tend to stay up a bit later with him and am less likely to clean because we don't get every evening together. Regardless, at 9:30 is my ideal lights out time in preparation for tomorrow's 5:30 am wake up call.
All together, I can get between 2 and 3 hours of quality time with my son before bedtime and additional two with my husband when he isn't working. I know one of the concerns of working while raising little ones is the time spent together. However, I think purposeful time spent is much more valuable than passive time spent all day disengaged with our little ones. I'm by no means great at it, but I always feel better about an evening disengaged with my phone and engaged with my sweet little family.
Okay, that's all! Thanks for hanging with a longer post! I hope you found some tidbits of faith, mindfulness, and love in our evening routine. Let me know if you have any coffee grinder suggestions, ours is seriously louder than a vacuum.