Well yes, the 6pm thing.
How do you manage to get to bed by 6pm on weekdays? How does it work? What does it look like with kids? When do they go to bed? When do you see your husband?
And so, some answers:
I will start by saying that, in life and in evenings, there are many trade-offs. The makings of a blissful morning (for me, at least) call for a decidedly nontraditional evening. For starters, the biggest habits cut from my life – six years and counting – are these: TV, Netflix, Facebook.
They are simply not a part of my day.
What is part of my day? Afternoons and evenings spent reading a book on the lawn, traipsing around ponds, visiting friends, splashing in pools. Trees to climb, floors to vacuum, groceries to procure. Today, a toad habitat to build for Hoppy, the long-awaited visitor to our back deck who promptly fell asleep on Bee’s chest as she smiled, proud.
The day stretches on much of this way, non-orchestrated at best, though I’m careful to paint you an inaccurate portrait of languor. There are interruptions, tantrums, chores, errands. Sometimes, during Scout’s (ever-shortening) nap, there are emails to answer, phone calls to take, dinner to prep. It is not an evening of luxury, but in the absence of rushing, it sometimes feels as such.
I will pause here to say that the kids are still young, not infiltrated with the rigor of organized sports, schools, performances, extracurriculars. In the summer, Bee’s Chinese lessons pause for two months, and although I supplement homeschooling with a few community projects or a week-long half-day camp that sparks her interest (theatre, currently), there is little in the way of a full schedule. And so, our days are what we make them out to be. Plenty of margin, room for surprise.
Again, the trade-off: At 4pm on a weekday, we will not be found shooing ourselves out the door, searching for missing cleats, stuck in traffic in an itchy tutu and a hot car seat. And yet, the flipside: by 6pm on a weekday, we will not be found cheering proudly on the sidelines of a soccer field, nor fanning ourselves with ballet programs as we watch kids in buns twirl into their own set of dreams.
Trade-off, trade-off, trade-off. We give time to what we think timeless, and for us, right now, this is togetherness.
Speaking of togetherness, Ken works from home and we run into each other a fair amount around here. There are exceptions to this, like when he’s rooted in a big project or out of town. But mostly, connections can be fought for in the little things – the shared smiles over a toddler lisp, the refilling of each other’s water glasses. The moments we find ourselves together in the kitchen with a napping Scout and a preoccupied Bee and the two of us can enjoy an uninterrupted conversation, start-to-finish, joyously so.
Last evening, we all pause in awe of a baby bunny on our front stoop, silently hypnotized, daring ourselves not to move, willing her not to dash off with the perk of an ear, each of us wholly unsurprised and disappointed when she finally does.
So there are moments, is what I’m saying.
Mostly, time is made on weekends and rare date nights, built on the mutual respect and understanding for each other’s schedules/passions/bents. Mostly, when the clock strikes 6, he surfaces into the kitchen to wash up, and with that, I’m off to bed while the kids enjoy a few hours with the one who cooks better curry, tells funnier stories, allows livelier antics, throws straighter pitches.
And then it is just me again. Scrubbing off the day with a smear of coconut oil, warm water, soft washcloth, a serum. Brushed teeth, an open book, my journal. I lower the blackout shades, whisper thank yous into the dark.
Set my alarm for eight-ish hours, for a new day, a fresh morning. A lavish dawn to greet me and you and us all.
p.s. More thoughts on slower, simpler evenings are right this way (with or without the 6pm bedtime). Here’s to a good, good day, friends.