I have to be honest. I love my routine and schedules. I find it is the only way to stay afloat these days. So after the kids get home from school around 4 we do homework and they watch a bit of video, at 5 we do dinner, and at 5 30 we do baths. At 6 we are in PJs reading books and playing "calm" games (the calm thing does not always happen but we try...) 6 45 we brush our teeth, fill the water bottles and at 7 pm we say good night, although recently the kids have been staying up till closer to 8. But they need to be in their room, ideally in their beds.
So this works pretty well. And then of course once a week it's Shabbos and that messes everything up again. But we work around it. And then every month or two there is a Jewish holiday that throws a wrench into my perfectly structured evenings.
Right now we are in the middle of Channukah which means a week of mayhem and late nights and way too much sugar. I try to be flexible, but ask my husband, it is really not my biggest strength. We also wanted the kids to have fun, though, so I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone.
Monday night we decided to take the kids to Channukah on Ice, even though the event did not even start till 6 pm, which is usually PJ time. Basically, Chabad takes over the whole ice skating rink in Central Park and there is kosher food, Jewish music, candle lighting and a performance by the Maccabeats.
We knew this was an ambitious plan so we asked our awesome babysitter to come with us for back-up. Of course we caused a stir on the subway there because there were 4 kids and 3 adults and lots of noise. We were kind of hard to miss. We got there okay and proceeded to put the 3 big kids in ice skates. This was their first time, so they were tripping all over their feet before they even got on the ice. But I have to say it worked out really well. The weather was beautiful, the views of Central Park amazing. A went off with her friend and actually got the hang of skating. The babysitter and I each took one of the boys and took them on a few rounds. My husband held the baby, because the skates did not seem to fit his feet well. I loved being on the ice- I have fond memories of going ice skating every Sunday as a child and it was fun being back in skates. We skated a bit, had dinner and then stayed for the Maccabeats performance- M was dancing and Y was loving every minute too. Things were going so well, I was surprised when my husband said it was past 8 pm and time to leave...I was having fun and would have gladly stayed for more skating.
But the baby and M were getting really tired, so we called it a night. The kids were super excited and the event was a definite success, especially given the fact that I did not come home stressed and overwhelmed.
The next night, however, was a different story. We were scheduled to go to a chocolate making party at a local candy store. First, Y refused to go, so he stayed home with a sitter. When we got to the store, M was not interested in making chocolate and instead was walking around touching all the candy...Baby AY was excited about all the sugar and I had to hold him and make sure he did not get to it. Then Y changed his mind and showed up with his sitter, who was not doing a great job of supervising him. He also started wandering around the store, grabbing things. I now had 3 out of 4 kids not participating and wandering around a store full of candy and chocolate, and my stress level was getting higher and higher.
I was counting the minutes till the pizza dinner, hoping that would offer a good distraction, when all of a sudden, Y grabbed on to the jelly bean dispenser and yanked, sending a cascade of literally hundreds of jelly beans flying all over the store...I was really embarrassed and decided I had reached my threshold.
I grabbed 2 slices of pizza to go and shepherded the 3 boys out of the store and back home where they ate, took baths and got back into my regular routine, while we waited for A to come home with my husband.
The moral of the story- you never know which event will go smoothly and which will require a lot of supervision and nerves. It's not always the one you think it will be. We are all partied out at this point and will spend the next few nights at home playing dreidel and eating chocolate gelt. I am happy we were able to do some fun things with the kids. I do feel that we are creating positive memories for them when we make the extra effort to take them somewhere special. That is something that is important to me and that makes all the stress and logistics involved in planning outings ALMOST worth it. But I am looking forward to getting back to my boring routine.
Happy Channukah to all!