When hours have to give what you ask of them

This has not been the most wonderful past few days. The current family logistics really requires multiple drivers. Our nanny is on vacation. My husband was gone the past few days. We have a back-up care arrangement for the toddler but that means I have been doing a lot of the shuttling people back and forth.

So, for instance, Monday morning I drove the teenager to school with the 2-year-old in tow. I woke up the 12- and 10-year-old before leaving. They were in charge, and needed to get themselves ready. I came home, woke up the 7-year-old, and then loaded all of them in the car to drop the 12-year-old at school and the 10-year-old at a before school activity. Then I came home for 20 minutes before driving the 7-year-old to school (with the toddler). Then the toddler and I hung out together until he could go to his care. In the afternoon I picked the 10- and 7-year-old up at school, brought them home, left 30 minutes later with the 12-year-old for fencing (leaving the 14-year-old in charge), dropped him off, drove to get the toddler from his care, drove back to fencing, picked the 12-year-old up and drove home. I put on the Dinosaur Train “Classic in the Jurassic” in the minivan DVD player and we managed to get through the entire DVD on Monday.

The big kids have helped out. For instance, I was able to leave the toddler with the 14-year-old for about 50 minutes so he didn’t have to go to the 10-year-old’s karate belt testing. But the poor little guy has had to go to a lot. He came to the 7-year-old’s parkour class last night (7:15 to 8:15 p.m., a great time for a toddler!) and we colored the picture that is accompanying this post. Drawing each circle and then letting him color it in (I did some of the coloring too, as you can probably guess…) took about 30 seconds apiece, and enough of them fills an hour…

On the work front, I managed to get done what I needed to get done in the compressed hours — but it was very much an intense push. I guess there are just some days where hours need to give whatever you ask of them. I was glad for little things, like that my daughter’s karate class got out early last night, so I was home at 6:20 instead of 6:30, which made cranking out grilled cheese sandwiches for the whole crew a slightly less rushed enterprise before I was back in the car at 6:55.

There’s no real larger point to this post. Potentially we need some more driving and logistical support, but given that the older 2 kids can stay home with younger siblings, it is doable. I did get about 5.75 focused hours each day to do things. And theoretically there shouldn’t be too many days like these. They just aren’t so fun while they’re happening…

6 thoughts on “When hours have to give what you ask of them

  1. You are in the middle of some tough years! When I was in that time of life (with a little, and 3 busy older ones) it helped to delegate some simple cooking. I had prepped them, observed, and had them do a recipe independently several times beforehand. Once I was sure they were tall enough to safely reach the stove controls, and knew to use pot holders every time with the microwave, then they could “cook” something while I was gone for a 20 min drop off pick up. Starting about age 12-13. The little one came with me, and I didn’t choose any food that involved knife skills or opening a can.

    Also, I occasionally paid babysitting for siblings. The younger got paid if the older sitter reported good behavior, and the older one got paid if the younger one reported the older sib had been nice to them. Both had to be satisfied or no one got paid. Sometimes used this when the oldest kids weren’t old enough to be left alone (8-11) at home but I needed to do something with minimal interruptions. I only had to respond to big things, the kids managed other kid sized issues, snacks etc.

    1. @Mary- we are working on food. The 12-year-old makes mac and cheese for himself and his siblings frequently. The 10- and 14-year-old do pasta. The 10-year-old helps with breakfast for dinner night (she does the pancakes) and I’m pretty sure they could have handled grilled cheese, we just hadn’t talked it through before. But yes, I think they can start doing more of the cooking. Certainly more of the cleaning up!

      I like the idea of there being accountability for both the babysitter and the babysittee being good!

  2. Wow you are super inspiring. I have no kids and no real off-work duties but I would definitely not have 5.75 focused hours per day! I definitely dont ask enough of my hours-and I def need to practise cranking out focused work between admin/other work.

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