Saturday, September 24, 2016

On the Homefront: (One of) The Most Wonderful Times of the Year

Before we get into this week's edition of my stay-at-home adventures, a quick apology for my absence on this site last week. I was in fact not at home. A trip planned months ago finally came to fruition, and I was fortunate enough to travel to Toronto with my brother, father, uncle, and cousin to see the first game of the World Cup of Hockey. Team USA lost (it was not a good tournament for the Americans) but aside from the game's result, the weekend was excellent.

I got back Sunday, and within hours was back to parts of my routine.
And as of about three weeks ago, my kids finally had a routine of their own to look forward to on a daily basis: school.
Or as parents call it, "School! Yay!"
I joke, of course, but the point is that for a great many of us with school age children, we gain a deeper appreciation and respect for teachers as each summer passes. Too often during the summer months, parents can feel a bit like referees instead of caregivers.
My wife and I have a fifth-grader and a second-grader this year, and the youngest of our trio will likely start some sort of preschool next fall.
As the school year began, schedules quickly sorted themselves out. Mondays and Fridays are now, and will likely remain, empty in terms of after school activities. Tuesdays involve religious school in the afternoon for our son, and Wednesdays and Thursdays are separate dance classes for our daughter. I also bowl in a league on Wednesdays, although what I do at the alley sometimes only loosely resembles "bowling."
Even the weekends are set, as both older kids bowl on Saturday mornings, and then both have Sunday School, too.
Personally, I've always done better with deadlines and schedules. Probably more than I care to admit. Knowing there is a set timeline on certain things, whether those things be a class, an assignment, or an upcoming date in the future, it gives me a sense of purpose on other tasks.
For instance, on Tuesdays, our family dinner usually comes out of a crock pot since we don't usually get home until later in the day. By then, cooking is out of the question if any type of bedtime goal is going to be reached.
The mornings are also a bit of scheduled chaos. The older two kids wake up, get ready for school (and all that entails), and head out the door in time for the bus. Once three-fifths of the family has left for the day, my two-year-old and I figure out breakfast and then I try to get her to help me clean or accomplish something that needs to get done. She can be helpful...or she can be two. It's hit and miss.
Ultimately, the great part about this time of year is that with few exceptions, we all know where each other will be at a given time. School, work, school, work, class, out, wherever, whenever, the days of open-ended activities have really come to a halt for a while.
It's refreshing.
And so is the weather.

Howard Balaban is a stay-at-home dad who enjoys routine, but finds deviation from routine equally exciting in certain situations.