My lovely cousin, Emily, of www.liverenewed.blogspot.com asked about our evening routine and I would love to share what has helped us have peace amongst the rumble and tumble of our little ones.
Kurt has helped me tremendously as we have definitely struggled to find peace and balance in the evenings. The crux of our problem has been sheer simple exhaustion. He has a very physically demanding job and so do I! We are both hungry and tired at the end of even very good days.
I have to say, the most important time of the day is when my loving husband walks through the door at night (regardless of what time that actually is). As I greet him, I am setting the tone for our evening in many ways that I did not previously realize. He has patiently pointed out, as has my Dad, that women have a tremendously important power for setting the atmosphere for the home. Here are some things that have helped me to be better at "greeting" my Love in the evenings.
1. I have had to committ to the idea that no matter what the day has been like, it IS a good day because of Christ. I learned this from both my Grandmothers who were relentlessly positive. I am NOT naturally that way but Jesus is changing me. I greet Kurt with a smile and show him I am excited and blessed that he is home (not to relieve me of duties but just because I genuinely like him!).
2.I also have something that smells like dinner going or some what in the works - doesn't matter if it's toast!
3. I ask him about his day and wait for an answer. I am trying to resist the urge to flood my poor tired husband with words right when he walks through the door - although I do still sometimes follow him to the shower to tell him all the incredible things the children have accomplished!
In turn Kurt has changed his thinking too in regards to our evenings. He had these items to share with my blog. He said that he....
1. waits until the children go to bed to have his "down" time.
2. puts on music so set a happy mood during dinner. Right now we're on Big Band 30's Era music.
3. gives his undivided attention to the children and wife :) during dinner.
All of these ways of putting each other first have helped lift the craziness and provide peace to our evenings as does our routine. Roughly, we follow this routine no matter what time Kurt gets home because the time varies daily.
Kurt showers / I prep or finish dinner
Children help set table /Kurt puts on music
Children are excused politely to play and run with their favorite music (currently the Cars soundtrack)
Dinner clean-up / Mommy & Daddy talking time
Daddy plays with kids while Mommy tries to finish house work items and prep for next day
Andrea reads outloud to Daddy and the boys
8:00 pm upstairs to bed
Once upstairs we do Ni-Night Routine (which is posted in large letters on the bathroom wall)
These words the older two can read themselves and since we do them in relatively the same order for all three kids every single night, we have them memorized. (Please note that I do not bathe the kids at night. I have found this takes too long and I do it during the day.) I usually do this part of our routine by myself and then Kurt comes upstairs. And this is another crucial part, we have found. Kurt gives kisses to everyone (they are all in the same bedroom the "Quiet Room") and says ni-night prayers. This time has been wonderful for closing out our day. Then, Kurt turns on our CD player that has a reading of the book of Luke. This plays quietly as I stay with the children, nursing baby Ethan, or attending the other two until they are almost asleep or completely asleep. Sometimes Kurt stays also, giving extra hugs and snuggles as needed to each of the children.
Note, many nights I fall asleep also and wake up just in time to go to bed with Kurt. This has been hard because I want to finish things and spend time with Kurt while the kids are sleeping BUT it has been wonderful because I can function the next day! It is a trade off and good communication has been key as Kurt and I find other time together or I try to stay up when there is something important that we need to pray for a long about.
We have experience much criticism in the area of how we do our night routine from people who believe in letting children cry for extended time periods without any parental involvement or concern. There are age-appropriate and temperament appropriate ways of meeting children's needs in the night that do not invoke abandonment. Many people in our self-absorbed and church cultures cannot understand why we do not "schedule" evening activities or church bible studies. We believe our first mission field is right in our own house. Our children will not care that we "served" God in our church unless we serve Him in our home. They will know at a very early age if we are over-committed and stressed out because we are running around trying to meet others needs while ignoring theirs! The peace of the Holy Spirit is far too valuable to be causally lost to the fast-paced culture we live in.
It is that very peace that is my prayer for each of our dear friends who are parents of young people. The peace of trusting in our Heavenly Father is vital to a peace-filled home. May His peace flood your home morning and evening as you care for His most precious gifts. Even as they may be screaming, crying, or fighting you, may they feel His peace in the strength of your comforting arms because you have known the peace and strength of the Father. Blessings.....