I have been sucking at blogging the past two weeks. Alex has been home from work and our household has been struggling the entire time. Making happy family memories, but struggling. This is nothing new—it's always been difficult for me to adjust during Alex's breaks from school. I require fairly consistent routines in order to stay sane and function properly. But, now we have Emerson who is even more dependent on routines and structure. She and I work well together because of that. When it's just the two of us, there is a rhythm to our days—we are in sync. This is not to say things are always calm in our house when we are sans daddy (the thought of that sort of makes me chuckle), but there is a flow to our chaos….ya know?
But, we love Alex, too. Of course we love Alex! And there is nothing sweeter than family time. That half hour we spend in bed in the morning, just the three of us, is sacred (and only happens when Alex doesn't have to work). Those moments, rife with laughter and silly games, snuggles and wet kisses, lit by the golden sun rising outside our window, are etched into my heart never to be forgotten. There are family walks and family hugs, Raffi dance sessions in the living room, father/daughter bonding galore—these are the things that we miss when Alex is working. There is so little time—if any—leftover in our normal life after all the hours have been worked, chores have been done, bills have been paid, diapers have been changed, messes have been cleaned up, naps have been taken, meals have been prepared and consumed. There is so little time to be a family. To just be. So that time becomes the most important, precious thing we have.
But. Here's the thing…
There is no balance. We swing between extremes in our household—having no time, and all the time in the world. And I find it maddening and difficult to adjust to, which in turn makes it difficult for anyone else in the house to adjust to. Alex and I always spend the first few days of his breaks fighting, because I have a routine, damn it, and without it the house and the family fall apart. We seriously fall apart. The dishes are never done, there are toys and clothes strewn about the floors of every room, we have no clean clothes, we are feeding Emerson baby food from a pouch instead of homemade an hour past her regular meal times, there is no food in the fridge, Emerson goes on strike from napping or sleeping at night. We are all cranky and exhausted. I flip out, because I'm used to running this show, and suddenly I have Alex two inches from my face all day weighing in on (what feels like) my every move.
Suddenly, I have to have a long discussion and consult before making any decision. Suddenly, I'm being questioned. Suddenly, I'm forgetting to shower or eat breakfast or put Emerson down for a nap or get Emerson out of her pajamas before noon, because there is someone in the house who speaks in full sentences and I can't stop talking to him. Suddenly, Emerson is perpetually distracted by the fun, exciting, loud man stomping around the house….and so am I. And it's great….but it's not….and why can't I get anything done when there are an extra set of hands to help….why is the house a disaster….WHY…..is it time for you to go back to work yet….wait, I love you, don't go…..blerg.
But, this is family time. It's the most important, precious thing we have. We are all totally out of whack and barely functioning, yet this is what we spend the majority of our days and weeks and months waiting for. We are constantly looking ahead to the next time we will have the opportunity to not sleep or get anything done, and wake up together and snuggle in bed even though we're cranky as hell. This is the time we will feel nostalgic for years from now, and we know it.
So, what about you? Any tips out there for making family time/family vacations less chaotic? Do you find things run more smoothly when you stick to some kind of routine during these times, or does that sap some of the fun of free time?