It helped to plan a lot of stuff with my parents: my mom took the kids for several 2-hour sessions of playtime; my brother and sister-in-law invited my parents and us to the lake one day; my mom and I took the kids on a walking trail; my parents had us over for dinner; we had my parents over for dinner; the kids and I went to my parents' house to visit with a family friend and eat ice cream.
|Walking trail, run-style|
I couldn't believe how much less LAUNDRY there was. I couldn't believe how much longer the GROCERIES lasted. And there was so much less ARGUING. (Though still plenty of it.) It was interesting to imagine what life would be like if I were a single mother of three (er, with the same budget and working situation, I WAS JUST IMAGINING, OKAY?), or if we only had three children and Paul was on a business trip.
I found I started changing things almost immediately, when I was the only adult. I was less likely to have an official dinner; more likely to snack on some of the kids' dinner and add some cheese and crackers. (Or ice cream, WHATEVER.) I stayed up later. I made arrangements so that I could sleep in later: putting plates and a bag of muffins on the counter; putting filled juice cups and milk cups in the refrigerator; setting the TV's channel and volume so that a child could just push the power button.
I also noticed a lot of stuff Paul does that I've gotten used to him doing, because no one else was helping with the little automatic tidyings and pitchings-in. And I noticed that the two older boys really do almost all of the kid cleaning-up time before dinner, because without them it was like nothing got done at all. I wrote to them: "I miss you! I had to unload the dishwasher MYSELF!"
The kids enjoyed talking to Paul on the phone, and they liked not having as many siblings to have to share the computer/television with. I found it was kind of fun to have an email message open all day to add to, telling Paul about our day.