August 26, 2012

Change of Pace

Paul and the two oldest kids just got home from a 9-day vacation. I spent two and a half of those days without a car (entire exhaust system replacement, which is about as cheap as you'd expect), but other than THAT, everything went really well---and much better than last year, when the vacation happened while Elizabeth was recovering from her tonsillectomy and Henry was four. We bought lots of treats, and I enjoyed being on a much more relaxed schedule: instead of DINNER AT FIVE, it was, "Huh, it's 5:30, maybe I should start cooking something." Instead of BEDTIME AT SEVEN, it was, "Yes, you can stay up to watch the rest of that movie." It was fun to have a change of pace.

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.

13 comments:

MomQueenBee said...

Great post. When the Boys were little and Husband was out of town it was as if the adults had left the room. Once I bought a 20-piece bucket of fried chicken and we ate that for EVERY SINGLE meal (in front of the television) until he got home. Good thing he didn't travel much.

Gigi said...

It is kind of freeing when the other half isn't there, isn't it? I love it when my guys go out of town.

Joanne said...

This makes me so happy, as I'm going to my home state with my mom and the 4 and 3 year old and leaving my 7 year old and almost 1 year old at home for a WEEK and I'm really nervous. Now I am going to look forward to emailing/chatting with my husband at the end of the day.

EB said...

You just described the life of a military wife, right down to something major breaking as soon as the husband leaves!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, look how big your daughter is now! How did that happen?? Gorgeous :)

Melospiza said...

This is true in our house, too, even though a full house is only four. I'm always kind of amazed at how hard it is to recombine, too: things that went smoothly for a week (and, importantly, BEFORE) are suddenly disasters.

My husband was out of town for a week and a half and got back yesterday; this morning I kvetched to him that as soon as he came back, my workload increased exponentially. True, he wasn't DIRECTLY responsible for the dog vomiting everywhere last night or the Back-to-school Homeworkless Honeymoon coming to a screeching 10:30 p.m. halt, but still, can it just be coincidence? I DON'T THINK SO.

Mrs. Irritation said...

Those children in that last photo are much too big to be your babies. Right?

In the 10 months we lived without my husband here, to say things were lax is a gross understatement. Dinner? Eh, whatever. I haven't really made dinner in almost a year. Now that he's back, I'm sort of blinking at him wondering how I ever managed to cook a meal before. Chips + dip was so much easier.

StephLove said...

Sometimes a change of pace is what everyone needs. I hope Paul and the big boys had a good trip.

Shalini said...

I'm sorry but when did Elizabeth turn into a grownup?

Laura Diniwilk said...

OMG, that last picture is CRAZY! So grown up! I hope you enjoyed your break from the norm :)

CARRIE said...

My husband rarely goes out of town for work, but when he does it is like a vacation. Cereal for dinner? OKAY! Eat at 4:30 instead of 6:15? OKAY! Do something in the evening hours instead of be at home? OKAY! A change of pace like that is refreshing.

Belly Girl said...

I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite posts of all time from you - I keep thinking about it, even a couple of weeks later! I think it's because we aren't supposed to say these "what if my life were totally different" things, especially when we say "wow, in many ways this is really a lot better than my actual life".

Also, I was thinking how much I wanted to see that email you wrote to Paul about the day. I bet you write about all the fun details that make life interesting.

Swistle said...

Belly Girl- SADLY NO, I think! It was all "So then we went to the grocery store. I forgot to get lettuce and bananas, so I'll have to go back again. We were going to go to the park, but then it rained. Henry didn't want to go to sleep, but then he did anyway. Love, Swistle"