The evening has come, gentle reader. If you are a parent reading this, you’ve made it this far. And now a choice awaits you: what to do with that precious time when your wee ones are asleep?
(At least, you hope they are. Junior Reader has been back up already, but I left that to Dan to sort out.)
It seems to come down to three options: organisation, relaxation or sleep.
Organisation: we know this one. It’s called getting packed lunch boxes ready; doing the recycling. Trying to find the bits of the abandoned board game; corralling the (hopefully by now) dry washing and distributing it to its various homes.
It’s called any number of things that you couldn’t get done in the day – or were unable to finish – because of the stream of other items you needed to attend to.
These may or may not include sorting out arguments, reminding people where to put their school uniform once removed, dealing with food that didn’t last that well in the fridge after all, happily responding to sudden requests for a second rereading of a new favourite book, sorting out more arguments, and so on.
If you are a recovering perfectionist, or even just like to be able to move your feet across the sitting room floor of an evening, organisation is hard to escape.
Even if you do the bare minimum. Or kick some of it to one side. Or drape a towel over the things you can’t face looking at for a while.
Relaxation. That’s what we really want, isn’t it? A chance to stop; perchance, to chat with your other half.
There are all kinds of lovely books to read; things to make, perhaps; uplifting TV programmes that might be on catchup, that kind of thing.
There is also comfort TV, comfort eating, and comfort ignoring as much else as you can.
There are some evenings that are only about this category – because it’s been a really tough day, and I just can’t face any more have-tos. Or maybe even because it’s been a really good day, and hey, it’s a treat.
Relaxation is a an attractive land that is really not that far away, but I often forget to visit.
I am still stamping tickets in Organisation when the train has pulled out of the station.
Sleep. That’s probably the thing I really do need the most of. But I don’t necessarily do that.
This is because, despite all of the above, my body clock still runs on Evening Time, and I like to unwind a bit more when the house is a bit quieter.
Children tend to run on Morning Time. On occasion, they run on What Time Do You Call This? Whichever, it’s not a natural companion to Evening Time.
Last night, I fell asleep shortly after Official Bedtime, which messed with my own bedtime.
This was later joined by a) anxiety sleep (we all had to be out of the house in good time today) b) annoying dreams c) one child sounding like they were waking up an hour before they needed to d) losing the alarm inside the bedclothes e) someone else getting up earlier than normal.
Tonight, I really should vote sleep, and have done with it.
Tonight, instead, I’m on Writing Time. That, in a funny way, is organisation and relaxation together.
If it would only gain me an extra hour or two of sleep, I’d do so all the more.