I drove to the airport this morning to pick up my husband, who had been in Lagos, Nigeria, on a business trip for the past week.
Before he left, I think we’d both been worried that it was going to be a tough week – for him because, Lagos, Nigeria; for me, because managing a household with four kids is busy enough for the two of us at the best of times.
As it turns out, he had a much worse week than I did, having to wrangle corrupt customs officials, poor planning and general incompetence at every turn on his trip, and coming home with a massive sinus infection to show for it.
Meanwhile, on the home front, I could not have asked for things to run more smoothly than they did. The kids – all four of them – were surprisingly cooperative and helpful all week, and we settled into a routine that allowed me to get things done while still ensuring that they were all adequately fed and ferried about as required.
I had imagined rushed mornings and general pandemonium, and instead, I had an easy-paced week in which I managed to check a bunch of items off my to-do list. All except one fairly big one, really. And what makes this even more remarkable is the fact that I was able to manage everyone’s day-to-day, with dinner and bathtime done and dusted by 18:00 each evening. This meant that there were no late bedtimes, and, since we recently reinstated the rule that there is no television or screen time allowed during the week, it also meant that the kids were properly worn out and ready to go to bed at the proper time. Because they’d spent the afternoons playing outside, reading books, climbing our mountain and being kids.
Of course, it’s a huge help that they don’t get homework, and Michael’s exams are over. He’ll also be joining his younger brothers at their new school from next year, so we won’t have to worry about homework anymore anyway, apart from the occasional project.
I’ve also noticed a significant change since becoming stricter on their sugar consumption. The younger boys’ school does not allow ANY sugar in their lunches – no jams or syrups on sandwiches, no sweet treats in lunch boxes; that includes artificially-flavoured juices of any kind, cookies or even “energy bars”. And I’ve started rationing the number of sweet treats the kids are allowed to have at home, too, and it is paying off in a big way.
It started with their Halloween loot, which I took from them and kept locked in my cupboard. Each child was allowed to pick two items out of his Halloween bag after school every day, and that was IT. Their sweets lasted right up until this week, and they weren’t all sugar-hyped by the end of every day.
So, yeah. We seem to have hit a sweet spot with our current schedules and routines, and I’m definitely going to try to keep it going this way. Long may it last!