Random Thoughts: Mother’s Day Edition

1. After the incredible high of LTYM, I came back to reality Saturday morning, wrangling three children and one dog off to a 10 a.m. soccer game. Already, the day was steaming up, our central air wasn’t working, I had a headache, and was running on an adrenaline high and only about 5 hours of sleep.

Additionally, my parents and my sister were in town; they had come in for the show and for Mother’s Day. My sister had brought her dog with her.

Oscar, our foster dog for a week, it turns out, does not play well with other dogs. Oy, the barking.

2. Kate acted up, which is never good, but when she mouthed off to my parents — well, this was unacceptable. She lost Minecraft for the weekend.

3. Thank goodness for naps. I crashed for about an hour on Saturday. Which was good, because we had to go to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom and Dr. Sis. We had a delightful and delicious dinner at Serafina’s in Crafton. Turns out Kate and Michael really like polenta, and all three of the children enjoy gnocchi. Who knew?

4. Dr. Sis is pregnant for the first time (due in September; please keep her and baby G in prayers — healthy pregnancy, good labor, healthy baby). At the soccer game as we were wrangling children and dogs, chatting about LTYM, and watching the soccer game, Dr. Sis observed that when I was a teenager, I said I was never having children.

While I do not recall declaring this, it certainly seems that it is possible that there was some point that I did not want children. I didn’t like to babysit, like, at all. I wasn’t fond of children in general — although are teenagers fond of children? I suppose some must be.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that I said I would never have children.

Having them now, though? Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Family portrait
I mean, c’mon. Not only do we have a good time together, we’re a pretty good-looking family!

5. Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post, and my FB and Twitter, about LTYM. I cannot wait to share the video with those of you who missed it.

6. Chicago vacation is OFFICIALLY BOOKED. That is the next thing that I have to look forward to! It’s good to always have something.

What are you looking forward to?

Lone Wolf

If I were to measure day-to-day parenting between Dan and me on a balancing scale, it would probably dip lower on my side. I don’t know how much lower — after all, three days a week, the girls are at his office after school, and he’s always there at night, in the morning, and on the weekends. I do more meal-making, to be sure, and run the children around more. I guess I do more of the logistical legwork than he does.

And that’s okay. It’s how it works in our two-working-parents household. And he is always there to step up when his schedule allows. He doesn’t shirk in his duties. Although, he does like to let the girls stay up with him a little bit. He really misses them during the week.

But now he’s going to Memphis with one of his uncles for four days.

He won’t be there tonight. Or tomorrow morning. Or the next two nights and mornings after that.

I will be 100% parent-on-duty until sometime on Sunday evening.

And we’re dog sitting.

++

I think I would feel a little better about lone wolfing if I were not so very stressed at work. Dan’s the one I can cry with on the phone in the parking lot (yesterday’s joyful moment!) telling him how much I hate this job.

I would never compare myself to a single parent. I have my husband’s full financial, physical, and emotional support. He is there, and he is an active participant in our household, from parenting to housework.

So: pray for me and the children. The in-laws are close by, although I don’t have very ambitious plans for the weekend. Putz around; clean what I can when I can; make sure everyone eats; maybe a little food shopping. Make sure the dog is fed, watered, and walked (this is the girls’ job — dollars are on the line!). I’ve gotten Flora a ride to her soccer game Sunday; M, Kate, and I will be attending a communion lunch for Kate’s BFF.

And, of course, plenty of this and SOA to get me through my lonely evenings!

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How do you survive lone wolfing?

Why I Think It’s Important to Hire a Babysitter (or Nanny)

When Flora was about four months old, Dan and I went out to dinner for my birthday. We left Flora at home with her godparents.

Yes, four months into active motherhood, and I left my baby. For all of two hours.

And yes, it was a little anxiety-provoking. Flora at four months was not the easiest baby. I worried about her crying. I had left a bottle of pumped milk for the sitters. She wasn’t a good sleeper, but she like to be held.

But I also knew I needed to celebrate my birthday and spend time alone with my husband out of the house.

I know some parents don’t leave their children with sitters. Or don’t leave their children over night. I can’t say I understand those choices. Growing up, my parents always had date nights and hired sitters. I don’t recall my grandparents babysitting us, although later when my mother was back at work full-time, her father would occasionally come stay with Dr. Sis when she was sick and couldn’t go to school. We even had a (gasp!) boy sitter occasionally! (Gosh, he was a cutie. He was the brother of one of our regular sitters. Anyhoo, I digress.)

While we still lived in the South Side, we probably mostly asked friends to babysit for us. I worked from home. About once a week, my MIL drove into the South Side so I could run around to work or do errands as needed.

And then we moved to the suburbs. Although we moved to a house next door to my in-laws, I knew that finding babysitters that weren’t my in-laws was important. Dan and I figured that it would be better to “save” his parents for emergency situations (like having a sick child and no PTO at work) and hire unrelated help.

When we first moved into the area where we live now, we relied on word-of-mouth. Dan had close friends who also had young children. They suggested a couple of sitters, a daycare, and an in-home daycare. The sitter they had suggested was a lovely young woman, and she *loved* our kids, but eventually left for college, so we needed to find a new one.

We decided to see if the teenage girl who lived across from us was interested in babysitting. She was, and we paid $40 for her to take the Red Cross babysitting course, and then employed her. She was our regular sitter for a couple of years, when she was 14 to 16. She was pretty okay; she did well with the children; Flora and Kate liked her; when it was time for her to go home, we watched her walk across the yard. Our only misgiving about her was that she texted all the damn time. But it wasn’t a deal breaker.

But she eventually got a “real” job (at an ice cream shop), and, of course, now she’s in college. Plus, after I had Michael, I had misgivings about leaving three children with a teenager. I found two children and an infant to be challenging. I didn’t think our neighbor was up for it.

However, I still needed a sitter. So I turned to the Internet.

I used SitterCity.com, and I would recommend it. They usually have free trials; I’ve also used their paid subscription services, though not for more than three months at any time. [SitterCity has not compensated me in any way for mentioning them in this post.]

Sooner or later, I’ll probably have to return to SitterCity. One of my sitters is earning her Masters degree, and my nanny is looking for year-round, full-time employment as a teacher.

Staying connected with Dan is important to me. Date nights mean a lot to us and our marriage. After all, we were married before we were parents. Additionally, because of Dan’s schedule, sometimes I need that Saturday morning sitter so I can go get a pedicure or bikini wax. Being able to leave my children with people who care well for them means peace of mind for mom (and dad). We have to put it in our budget, and we can’t be all that spontaneous — sitters need to be asked in advance — but the investment in good help is invaluable.

While parenthood is a life-long commitment, the actual direct care of children eventually fades away. Some day, our children will be old enough to be left to their own devices when Dan and I go out. Some day, we won’t need sitters at all, because the children will have flown the nest. While I am sure I will miss them, by employing sitters regularly now, I get to stay intimate with my husband, participate in social outings (with or without my husband), and take “me time” when needed. I’m lucky to have the option to employ babysitters and nannies now.

Related post: The Great Nanny Experiment of 2012

Who’s your babysitter? How did you find her (or him)?

Ten Things to Consider When Hiring a Sitter or Nanny

1. When do you want your baby sitter to be available? If you need a reliable sitter for Friday and Saturday nights, be explicit about that. If you need the occasional weeknight sitter, you don’t want to hire one that has nighttime classes during the week. Same thing with weekends; if you need a sitter during the day on a Saturday or Sunday, you need to know if the person you are hiring is going to regularly have a conflict.

[Of course, you can hire more than one sitter. We have two reliable sitters, one of whom has also been our summer time nanny the past two years.]

2. How old is the sitter? A high-school age sitter can’t be beat for enthusiasm (or one would hope) and availability. However, a college-age sitter may be more experienced and more responsible — and will probably want more money.

3. How much are you willing to pay? As with anything involving childcare, nannies and sitters can be expensive. We pay from $10 to $15 an hour, depending on experience. Let’s face it, we have three kids, and someone not blood related to them should be well compensated for containing the chaos.

4. What do you want the sitter to do? Aside from make sure the children don’t kill each other or set the house on fire? This ranges from basics (change diapers, feed, give baths, put to bed) to more detailed responsibilities. I ask my baby sitters to help the children clean up the house; if they feed the children, I ask that the kitchen be cleaned. Our nanny helps the children do all the chores I request of them: change sheets, vacuum, put laundry away. I honestly think they listen to her better than they do to me.

So, when I interview a sitter, I always ask about what I call light housekeeping, and give them an idea of what I mean. This is another area that a college age person is better than a teen, generally speaking.

5. Does the sitter have a car, and if so, is she comfortable driving the children? This, again, can be an invaluable asset. If you have date night scheduled, and a classmate’s birthday party invite comes in, can the sitter take the child? During the summer, our nanny took the children to swim lessons, drove them to the park, did all kinds of things. I prefer a sitter that has her own transportation.

6. Ask them what they will do with the children. One of my sitters loves doing arts and crafts with the children. My nanny loves taking them outside, or to places like Fun Fore All. Sure, sometimes they are going to sit and watch a movie. But if you have strict rules about screen time, you want to know what a sitter has up her sleeve to keep the kids occupied.

7. Make your discipline guidelines clear. Make sure the sitter has the backbone to back up her requests for compliance. What will she do when the 3-year-old throws a tantrum? How about when the 9-year-old says she wants to stay up and wait for you to get home? Sitters should be able to be firm. We believe in timeouts and a system of rewards/loss of privileges, and we make sure our sitters have the tools they need to keep the children in line if needed.

8. One of the things I asked my potential nannies was, “Think of a time you had an emergency. What did you do?” That was instructive for me. It’s good to know if a caregiver is going to have a cool head.

9. This seems obvious, but ask about experience. Some sitters only have experience with infants. Some only sit for older children. What are they in school for? Our nanny has a degree in education, and a Masters degree in mathematics. Our other sitter is in college for early education with an emphasis in arts. It’s good to know that they are so interested in children that they want to participate in teaching.

10. This also seems obvious, but ask for references, and then call them. I find calling people I barely know to talk about a person I also barely know (yet) to be nerve-racking, but you have to do it. What ages were the kids when she (or he, rare but possible) babysat? What kinds of things did she do with them? What was she good at? Did she have any weak points? People I talked to about our nanny could not say nice enough things about her, all of which I have found to be true, too. She really likes children, and for some reason, she really likes my children too!

The easiest ways to find sitters are through word of mouth and the Internet. We’ve gotten good baby sitters both ways, and our current regular sitters I found at SitterCity.com (I am not being compensated by SitterCity in any way for this post). They have guidelines there, too, about what to ask, and the people who post there to be employed provide a lot of appropriate information.

I find having sitters to be important for a variety of reasons. And I’ll get into that in my next post!

How about it, parents? Or baby sitters? Did I leave anything out?

Kate!

I started this post on Monday — which was your seventh birthday. Here it is Wednesday, and I am just getting around to posting it.

And this pretty much probably justifies a lot of the way you are afflicted with “middle child” syndrome. Yes, I can give you all the reasons (excuses) why it’s taken so long to finish and post this letter to you. Work is ON FIRE; the weather is not, and has disrupted the routine we are trying to get back to. Plus, although your birthday is the first one of the year, because of its timing, it falls at the tail end of a lot activity. By the time we get to January, we are running on fumes. This seems patently unfair to you, and I hope by giving you birthday activities — just like we do for all our other children — we gloss over that fact.

Anyway, here’s your letter, my January star:

Dear Kate,

Every where we go, people know your name.

Usually because I have to exclaim it a few times. Your behavior is not always ideal when we are out in public.

And you know what? I am starting to not mind so much. You know why? Because you’re not hurting anyone. You’re not causing a general uproar. You’re not being bad. You’re being spirited, enthusiastic, and, yes, loud.

Now, do I let you behave that way in the library or in church? No, I do not. Do I let you run around screaming in restaurants? Absolutely not. However, you are 7 now, and you are starting to learn appropriate behavior. (You still want to hug everyone, though.)

You are well-liked. You are funny and smart. You are the best big sister that a little boy (who is also funny, smart, and spirited) could have. (With apologies to Flora, but let’s face it. She likes her quiet time.)

I still worry about you and have my parenting challenges with you. You ricochet and vibrate; you plunge into frustration and sadness. You hate to be alone — it crushes you, it makes you sad. You sob. Sleeping through the night has become a challenge, for all of us. Separation anxiety is wearing us all out.

But, you know, we saw Frozen this past weekend, and I look at the way Elsa was instructed to hide herself, and I just can’t do that to you, my Kate. You’re a little more likely to set things on fire than build an ice palace to be alone, but the theory is the same. You don’t have to be a “good girl”. You are a good girl — but “good” doesn’t in your case mean meek, quiet, and instantly compliant. Your dad and I are making our peace with that.

Anyway, this birthday letter is two days late. Just consider it payback for how long you made me wait the week you were born.

I love you, my spirited, fiery second daughter, my demanding middle. I gave you lots of happy birthday wishes this year, and consider this my last one for now. Don’t change, don’t hide. Be the person you are.

All my heart,
Mommy

The Weekend Belonged to The Duck

Once a month, we have a down weekend. No social plans, no dinner guests, no birthday parties. I schedule it, and put in on Dan’s calendar too.

And then we play the weekend by ear. Usually it means a goodly amount of cleaning, shopping, and/or cooking.

This weekend, though, due to good planning and dinner guests *last* weekend, which meant the house was pretty clean already, we had some freedom to play around. And the weather! My goodness, I would order this weather for every weekend from now until Thanksgiving if I could. It’s perfect.

Anyhoo.

The only thing on the schedule was Flora’s 1 p.m. soccer game on Saturday, which was at a field about five minutes from the house. Plenty of siblings show up, and there’s a playground there. Dan and I took turns rooting for Flora and making sure Kate and M didn’t wander away from the playground.

Saturday, we had “Yes Day”. This is the day that, given a reasonable request, I say yes to the kids. They played by the rules. So: they did not have to clean their room (Flora: Can I clean my room tomorrow?); we went out to dinner; and we went to the toy store. They didn’t get too crazy, asking to watch TV all day or eat only candy. They also stayed up late, although I sent the girls to their room at 10 p.m., and I went to bed at 11 p.m. I told them they had to turn in no later than midnight — Yes Day would officially be over. Flora confessed they didn’t make it much past 11:30. It had been a busy day!

Sunday, we bummed around a little bit. Flora and I went to Mass and ran a couple of errands, which somehow included a red velvet cupcake.

And then we went to see The Duck.

I, for one welcome, our new duck overlord.

Flora is the girl kneeling in pink in the middle down there. She was amazed by The Duck, but was also fascinated by the Canada geese and mallards paddling around. M was intrigued by the boats.

The kids bounced around, checking out the duck, the fountains, and the boats. Dan and I revisited our engagement spot (the confluence — is this a Pittsburgh cliche? I don’t care if it is, just curious).

And the weather was just fantastic. Did I mention that yet?

I love that the duck is in Pittsburgh because it’s such a joyful symbol of childhood juxtaposed with the city of my adulthood.

Or, you know, a giant zombie Trojan duck that will suck out your soul.

You choose.

It Runs in the Family

Unfortunately, “it” in this case seems to be sleeping problems.

I don’t know if we can classify it as insomnia just yet, but: Flora can’t fall asleep at night.

For about a week now, she’s come down between 9:30 and 10 p.m. to complain that she can’t fall asleep. Dan lets her sit on the couch with him for a little bit, watching TV. I’ve given her melatonin (about 1 mg) to see if that helps. (She says it doesn’t.)

Last night, she was up past midnight.

This is not good.

She is fried. She is frazzled; her temper is a hair trigger; she will scream or cry at the drop of a hat.

For an active 8-year-old, not getting more than 8 hours a night is not healthy. Letting her sit on the couch and watch TV because she can’t sleep is not going to help.

Tonight, I’m going to try some deep breathing with her. She has soccer this evening too, which may help knock her out. I’m also going to see if I can get her to count to 100 when she can’t sleep. I’m going to make it clear that she cannot come downstairs after 9 p.m.

I’m not sure if she’s anxious about something in particular or not.

A boy at extended day has been picking on her — unfortunately, he picks on everyone. She’s been doing the right things: telling him to stop, walking away, getting an adult. I told her if it continued, I would step in with the school.

She says she likes her teacher. She’s doing well in school with her work. She likes soccer, although sometimes she finds it challenging. She’s on a co-ed team with third and fourth graders, and sometimes at practice if she’s in a group of fourth graders, she puts a lot of pressure on herself. The coaches don’t pressure her. She feels like the older kids “tell her what to do”. She finds it upsetting.

We’ve been doing yoga a couple of times a week. After balking at first, she likes to do it now. I think she finds it fun to stretch and hold the poses. She doesn’t think of it as something she *has* to do. (Confession: I really like it too. This has come as a surprise to me. But I’ll talk about that another day.)

We’ll try a few things to see what helps. But if this continues, I may take her to the pediatrician. I doubt they’ll give her medication, but maybe they can help by talking to her about the importance of sleep, and maybe they will have some other ideas to help her quiet her brain. I’m sure that’s the crux of the issue.

How would you help an 8-year-old get better rest?

Random Thoughts: The Rolling Right Along Edition

1. Although I have managed not to panic outright this week (as my father would say, “Never panic. It’s so unattractive.”), apparently insomnia is going to be my torture.

Had a touch Sunday night, couldn’t sleep for about an hour.

Last night (this morning?) was a doozy though. Up from 2:30 to nearly 5 a.m. To add insult to injury, just as I was finally falling back to sleep, after watching the horrible ending of The Dark Half — I’m guessing the whole movie was terrible, not just the ending; I like Timothy Hutton a lot, but that movie was a bad career choice. And don’t get me started on Stephen King book adaptations…

Where was I?

Right, falling back to sleep finally at 5 a.m. when Dan started to snore again. Then to heap insult upon insult to injury: his alarm went off at 6 a.m.

*GROAN*

2. I have been able to cobble together lunches and dinners despite not shopping in the recent past. I even put together a picnic dinner for this evening, which is Flora’s first soccer practice if the weather improves. Hummus, carrot sticks, celery with peanut butter, cheese, and apples. I may have to pick up some crackers I suppose.

If practice gets canceled, we’re having a picnic in the living room.

3. The routine is starting to take, I think. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here. Last night went pretty smoothly (note: it was not a bath night). The school after care program has instituted a half-hour homework period for the kids. I told Flora to use the time! That will be a big time saver in the evenings.

Last night, TV went off at about 7:50. While I put M to bed, the girls came upstairs, put on their pajamas, brushed their teeth, and quietly occupied themselves in their room. Didn’t ask for another show. Didn’t ask for another snack. Just waited until I got M settled, then we read the next two chapters of the book we’re on.

They were asleep by 9:30, and up this morning by about 6:45.

I am hopeful.

Except for that damn insomnia.

4. Kate’s having little dramas, though. Sadness, bad dreams, spates of crying. I am being patient and trying to help her, listen to her, empathize. Last night was especially notable. She got very sad right before dinner.

As we were coming in the door for the evening, she said, “Did you ever have a dream? And then thought all day about the dream, and think you were going to dream the same thing again in the night?”

I said, “You had a bad dream last night?”
She nodded.
“And you’re afraid you’re going to dream about it again tonight?”
Another nod.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“It was too hard to describe.”
“Okay. But if you want to talk about it, I can listen.”
“It’s just that everyone was dead except me.”

Oh, this kid. Breaking my heart.

“Sweetie, are you feeling lonely? Are you afraid of being left alone?”
Nodding and tears this time.

“Do you feel worried about going to school?”
She shook her head no.
“Do you feel lonely at school?”
Another no.
“Do you feel lonely at night?”
Nodding yes.
“Okay. So we have to figure out a way to help you feel less lonely at night.”
“Yes. Okay.”

Then later that night, I tucked her and Flora in, and left the room to get M resettled (M is sleeping in the big bed in our room — not in his crib, and that is another story for another day), and she burst into sobs! Came into M’s room and everything. She was so distraught.

Maybe some of it is the change in schedule, the change in routine. Instead of the nanny and her siblings and cousins around all the time, she’s *is* alone, in a new classroom. She has had very good days at school, and hasn’t complained of a thing, even when asked. She’s not in a classroom with her “frenemy” from last year, although she sees her some evenings in after care. Maybe she’s a little more tired, and it’s darker sooner, and change, man. Change is hard!

I got her calmed down last night with some deep breaths. I’ve started doing a meditation with her at night too — I don’t know if I can call it guided meditation or anything fancy like that. I have her picture a big, strong tree, and I describe the bark, and the leaves, and the light in the leaves. We’ve done it about three times, and it does seem to calm her.

5. I am using this weekend to regroup (ha! as if I’m grouped), make a weekly meal plan, look into freezer meals (thanks to @TwinMamaTeb for the tip), practice our routines a little more. Especially yoga. Who knew I would like yoga? I did not.

6. In another attempt to help Kate, I put a note in her lunch for today. I hope it cheers her up, and reminds her that she is always on my mind, and never alone.

What do you do when you or your kids are feeling lonely?

Back to School: I Have Stress Edition

It’s the first week of full-time school for Kate and Flora. It’s a return to the school year schedule, of which I am not fond. Michael is in his daycare full time for the first time since the beginning of June.

I have no meal plan for this week.
I am still waiting for a couple of uniform pieces for Flora to come in.
And I am not looking forward to the night time sprint to bed.

Dan and I discussed the possibilities of him working until 9 p.m. three nights a week so that he can be home by 6-6:30 p.m. one night a week and by 7-7:30 p.m. another night a week. (He’s still alternating working Saturdays, which seems to be good for him.) I am hoping we can do this.

I just found out that Flora has soccer practice twice a week, Monday and Friday, and a game each weekend starting September 7.

I’m going to have to make friends with another soccer parent FAST. I see much carpooling in Flora’s future.

I signed Kate up for pep squad this year, too. No idea what that entails. Plus, Kate wants to play violin, just like her big sister.

I feel like I shouldn’t be this stressed out about this. Other parents do this, right? Other working parents of multiple kids, yeah? I mean, I feel like I’m having a measure of PTSD here (not to minimize actual people with actual serious PTSD).

But I’m dreading this year.
I’m dreading all this running around. And it’s not as if Flora and Kate are doing six or seven activities each. We said one sport, one instrument (if that).

And here was are. Each has one sport, and one instrument. Plus, homework. Plus I have to feed them. And, theoretically bathe them, and make sure they get enough sleep. And, you know, there’s that Michael kid running around too.

Shit.

And then I sit here wondering: when exactly did I bite off more than I could chew? And how do I get a handle on that without losing my job or letting my kids sit around and do nothing? There’s gotta be a middle ground around here somewhere.

I sure am having a hard time finding it.

And I don’t really want to let these girls down. (Not to mention my sweet boy.)

Back to School: The Bedtime Routine Edition

On Sunday, I announced at the dinner table that the New Bedtime Order was being implemented, starting that night.

M should be in bed by 8 p.m.

The girls should be in bed by 8:30 p.m. at the absolute latest. The hall light will not be left on; the bathroom light will be. If I come upstairs to find them playing with any toys or stuffed animals, I am taking them away for a week. After 9 p.m. they are not to come downstairs (“Unless,” Dan added, “you are bleeding, on fire, or have a broken bone”).

I also decided that we would be taking 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime to unwind and make bedtime calm and relaxing. The thundering around, and up and down the stairs was going to end.

In an attempt to help my girls relax and get ready to actually *sleep* — not just go to bed — I decided last night that we would try some yoga.

Kate was all over this decision.

Flora was adamantly against this decision.

Dan thought it was a good idea, and tried to persuade Flora to try it.

Flora found this incredibly upsetting.

While Flora cried on the couch, Kate and I did yoga for about 10 minutes.

Kate is good at yoga.

Ten minutes later, I sent Kate and Dan upstairs, and sat down to talk to my very distraught daughter.

She doesn’t like yoga. She doesn’t want to do yoga. She’s upset that Dan thinks yoga is a good idea, because that means he likes Kate better (8-year-old logic). Why couldn’t she pick the thing for us to do that would be relaxing?

“Well,” I said, “what do you think we can do that would be relaxing?”

“What about a board game?”

I considered this. “I’m not sure a board game right before bedtime is a good idea,” I said. “What if we get excited about winning or upset about losing? That doesn’t sound relaxing. I think a board game after dinner on Friday or Saturday is a good idea, though!”

Flora thought some more. “Reading?”

“I find reading relaxing,” I said. “I would like us to all read together. Maybe we can pick a good chapter book to start reading. I’ll read out loud to you and Kate.”

“Okay.”

“I would like to keep doing yoga,” I said. “So how about one night, we’ll read together, and the other night we’ll do yoga. If you don’t want to do yoga, then maybe you can just sit and watch, or take deep breaths, or read a book on your own.”

“Okay.”

So, we’ll see how this goes.

++

Dan doesn’t think reading is relaxing. He doesn’t understand my attachment to it, and he doesn’t understand Flora’s attachment to it. And I don’t know how to explain it to him.

What we find relaxing is subjective, I suppose. Reading totally unplugs me from the day. I need that at the end of the night. I think I’m going to find doing yoga with Kate relaxing, too. I do need my hip to start cooperating though, but that’s a different story.

I will have to keep an eye on how much Flora reads once she’s in bed. She likes to read until she falls asleep. I haven’t discouraged that.

We were very lax about bedtime this summer. I tried to institute the “no downstairs after 9 p.m.” to no avail. But this routine is something I have to stick with. My girls are learning bad habits; they are certainly teaching M bad habits. It’s all got to be nipped in the bud.

I am hoping that as night falls earlier, and we get into a relaxation routine, and bedtime becomes a time for quiet and peace, it will be easier for my children to go to sleep.

I’m hoping by October, the relaxing is ingrained enough that we won’t need constant reminding.

Again, we’ll see.

Are you making any major changes to routines as we head into the school year?