Natalie and I have really fallen into a great routine both in the mornings and afternoons now that Craig is leaving the house early and coming home late due to basketball. Awhile back I wrote a heart-wrenching (to me at least) post about how Daddy was CLEARLY Natalie's favorite person for comfort and joy during volleyball season because I just wasn't around very much. Craig kept reassuring me that come basketball season the tables would turn and I would be the one she would call out for in the mornings and at bedtime.
And once again I doubted myself entirely too much and I should have trusted in my husband (and in God).
Depending on when she wakes up we are usually down in the kitchen eating breakfast around 6:30 or so. She happily chomps on her cheerios and fruit while shrieking about the dogs or jabbering about babies. I get the Keurig fired up and then make both our lunches. The dogs scamper outside to use the restroom and then come in and sit eagerly by Natalie's feet, hoping for a stray Cheerio to fall.
Usually by 6:45 or 7:00 we are back upstairs so that I can take a shower while she plays with her magnets or reads books in the bathroom. Sometimes she will wander off to the playroom and return with a wonderfully prepared plastic breakfast consisting of peas and carrots for me. Or sometimes such as this morning, I will find her curled up in her glider with a book and a baby. I plug in my iPhone to the iHome and we listen to the Florence and the Machine station on Pandora.
After I'm dressed and ready around 7:30 we head into her room and take off jammies and put on a fresh diaper and outfit for the day. We usually have an intense debate over BOW or NO BOW which always depends on the choice of clothing. Medicine is given (if necessary) and teeth and hair are brushed.
Once we get downstairs, the pups are locked in their kennel and we gather up our supplies for the day. Backpack in hand, Natalie stomps to the garage door and out we go....but not without stopping (and pleading) for the Santa blow-up decoration in our front yard to be inflated. But much to her dismay, our Santa is a nocturnal creature and MUST get his rest during the day so we wish Santa a good nap and climb into the car.
Our afternoon routine gets started a little later than I would like because for the next three weeks I'm tied up after school with Cross Country practice until 4:45 which means Natalie and I don't arrive home until closer to 5:00. But once home I again turn on the Pandora radio in the iHome that is above the sink and we clean up the house....sometimes that means putting away laundry and toys while other days it's wiping down counters and picking up the leaves the dogs track in from the yard.
After about a twenty minute speed clean around the house the music stays on and the television stays off while I start the preparations for dinner. Depending on what we are eating, Natalie may or may not be involved and if not she pretty much has the run of the downstairs and she will color and read books or play with her babies and animals. Towards the end of the dinner prep Craig arrives home and keeps her occupied while I finish up and get the food to the table.
On the nights that he is home and doesn't have a basketball game, Craig is the one who reads a bedtime story and then rocks her to sleep but on Monday and Thursday nights it is my duty. Last night we got home from Craig's game at 8:45 and went straight upstairs for pajamas, teeth brushing, book reading and bedtime. After a few books I clicked off the lamp and rocked her for about eight minutes before her breathing seemed to level out. I picked her up and placed her in the crib but as soon as I closed the door her pitiful wails began.
Sigh. I sat on the bed and watched her through the monitor and anxiety crawled up my spine. I just knew it was going to be one of THOSE nights and I figured that it would end with me huffing and puffing with frustration, her face streaked with tears and Craig having to swoop in and save the day even though he was exhausted from coaching 7th grade basketball.
So I sat and I zenned out. I waited and listened. "Mama, mama, mama!" she wailed from her bed....and although I hated to hear her cry, I was secretly pleased that she was calling for ME! After five minutes it was obvious that she would not be putting herself to sleep and as Craig walked in the front door I was heading back into her room. I stood in that dark room for as long as it took me to methodically thump on her back, slowly and calmly FIVE HUNDRED TIMES. Literally. Five hundred pats on her back. Of course I counted....because you know....I like numbers. Again I sneaked out of her room while practically holding my breath all the while praying that she would not be flipped over and sitting up by the time I walked the ten steps to our bedroom.
I took a look at the monitor and WHOOSH. I let out a deep breath. The toddler was soundly asleep. Bedtime success with no frustration from either party. Hallelujah.
I totally underestimated the power of a routine with a child. I know that I personally enjoy a routine and that installing a consistent warm-up with my athletes is important but I truly had no idea how attached to a "routine" Natalie would become. It has taken us a few weeks (and a few tears) to get ourselves situated to the new normal but she has transitioned beautifully and understands (for the most part) what is going on, where Daddy is ("work" or "ball") and how it affects her life.