How critical is routine?

Dave asked me to lay out our new morning routine for him, as it is now. We’re living so moment to moment as we define life as a family of six that I haven’t documented what our days look like for him. I mean parent alone with the kids – not lazy weekends with an extra set of hands in the house. Amy and I were chatting about how limited time is these days. It’s more valuable to us than anything else: time for kids, for us as a couple, for a moment of silence…a mom can dream.

I just want to send my thanks to Amy, Bianca, Kerna and Kat for your patience with us! We try to share as much as possible with you and yours here, without diluting our time with the kids when they’re awake by constantly being behind a camera. Finding that rhythm can be challenging, and you’re all so supportive when our limitations get in the way of your desire for updates. We’re so grateful for all of you and your understanding.

Back to the regularly scheduled program! Dave starts us off by feeding Griffin sometime between 430 and 630 in the morning. Ouch. He then go straight to work. Next, I’m up! First, I go into Tess and Remy’s room and we chat for a minute or two. Then we all troop into Lilou’s room, who jumps up-and-down in delight when she sees Tess and Remy. I change her while Tess picks out her outfit and Remy plays with her toys. Once she’s clean and dressed, we head back to the big kids’ room and get them organized. Sometimes Tess helps Remy get dressed. Remy makes sure Lilou has toys to play with. When all three of them are ready, I head back to my room to scoop Griff, who is usually out cold for a few hours after his morning feeding. I carry both babies down very carefully while Tess and Remy roll down the stairs like boisterous puppies.

Lilou gets her milk while I figure out what Tess and Remy are getting for breakfast. They usually have many opinions on the subject. It can get heated! We only serve one meal at each meal, so I will make them agree on what we’re going to have if they get any say whatsoever. These can be long, relaxing, dialogue-filled repasts; or me grabbing three bananas while yelling at the kids to get in the car as fast as possible. That’s what swimming lesson days look like. While they’re eating, I run the dog out – usually in pajamas. Don’t judge me; I can carry two babies downstairs with two toddlers barreling through my legs. It’s a miracle I make it to the first floor to get the dog!

We do something from breakfast until 10:30, when we try really hard to be home so Lilou gets a solid morning nap in her bed. The kids do puzzles, pretend cook, or throw trucks around until lunch. Then it’s baths and naps. Those are hit or miss these days, but I will not give them up. So they have the option of reading quietly in bed. In the meantime, Joy/I frantically do meal planning and prepping/laundry/cleaning/organizing/bill paying/dog walking/baby feeding, etc.

When the animals get up, they get to play or read until Dave comes home. Then they go garden while I make dinner, or help in the kitchen. These days that means put the binky in Griff’s mouth 20 times a minute. And pick up Lilou’s bottle. She’s quite delighted with the overlap between gravity and minions. Mealtimes are sprints and marathons all in one. I cannot express the minute-to-minute insanity that happens around food here.

Dinner is closely followed by bedtimes. Tess will often rock a baby in a mini rocker while I tuck Lilou in. Then we read the bigs a story, sing a few songs, and close the door.

See any wiggle room? Routine is the backbone of sanity. Let me tell you: when that door closes, leaving only Griffin awake, we collapse in a heap. It’s usually 8pm. We’re often in bed by 9:30 (11 at the absolute latest, like a really wild Friday night). So if you’ve been looking for us or wondering why we text you at 8am, wonder no more.

Still, rules are made to be broken, right? Sunday morning we took all four kids for a nice walk and then to brunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We had a great morning, and everybody was pretty well behaved. Tess delighted us by sharing pancakes with Lilou, even when she didn’t know we were watching. Remy try to eat a whole pat of butter. Ah, well. At the end of our meal, the waiter came over to thank us for bringing our kids out and taking such good care of them. I cannot express how touching comments like that are. The struggle to be great parents is so extreme in this age of constant exposure: online, in public, in school. I’m not sure if his comment was inspired by the racial diversity of our kids or just the actual fact of us bringing reasonably well behaved kids to his restaurant. Whatever the reason, it made our whole morning. Dinner was just as fabulous, with the kids – and I couldn’t make this up – playing ring around the rosy with some other kids by a lake as we conversed with family and friends. And the illusion of civility is complete.