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Making Evenings Easier

?? Working Father Magazine? |


| A Tenuous Thread ??

February 07, 2006

Making Evenings Easier

James Mehring

By the time I leave the office, I am running out of steam. That is especially true now that I am starting another semester in my quest to earn an MBA. Back at home, Lyn is also getting tired after a full day of taking care of our two-month old daughter and all the day-to-day household work.

It?? not surprising that we have less energy by the evening now that we are parents. The problem is that evenings are even more important. With the start of a new semester, I stumble home after 10 p.m. two nights a week. Homework also eats up time during the weekends that I had spent with my family. When I get home, I want to spend quality time with my child and my wife. Lyn and I are also trying to make healthier, less expensive meals. Making the most of our evenings requires us to be in good moods.

In order to avoid our frayed nerves and hectic days from ruining our nights, Lyn and I have stumbled onto a few useful routines.

First of all, I no longer call Lyn just before I leave the office or school. Calling my wife to tell her that I am an hour away from home does not make her feel better. To the contrary, if our little girl is having a tough evening, Lyn does not want to be watching the clock with a crying baby asking herself why I am not home yet.

How many times have you been ready to walk out the door and then get a last minute phone call that keeps you at the office for another 30 minutes? How efficient is your public transportation system or how often do you get stuck in traffic jams? Telling my wife that I am late because the D train was just sitting between stations or that I just missed the bus does not make her feel better. We check in a couple times during the day but I avoid giving an estimated time of arrival.

The first point also fits well with another newly formed habit. I now get off the bus a stop or two early in order to de-stress before I get home. My commute from Manhattan to New Jersey via public transportation can often be annoying in its own right. Walking a few extra blocks helps me transition from work to home. After all, I never know what I may be walking into when I open the door. And Lyn doesn?? mind because these extra few minutes mean I arrive home in a better mood and a clearer mind.

Another thing we do is attempt to prepare more meals ahead of time. In such a foodie town like New York, finding a French restaurant with a great prix fixe dinner or getting take out was fun. With a baby, we need to use our time and money more wisely.

Lyn now makes dishes that are tasty and large enough to be eaten a couple times during the week. We have found that soups are a good, easy item to whip up on the weekend. It doesn?? have to be watched the whole time and can be quickly reheated. And for those nights where chaos breaks out, we try to have some quick and decent snacks on hand at all times. A house favorite is hummus with crackers, cheese and a couple olives.

I can?? say the home is full of smiles every night but these changes have certainly helped.

02:25 PM


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I call the late afternoon call, "The Check In Call." You hear snipets around the office as colleagues check in with their significant others: "How was your day?" "What time will you be home?" "What's for dinner?"

But, you are right, it can be annoying to project how the evening will unfold because things never happen as you expect them to.

Posted by: Lauren at February 7, 2006 03:00 PM

We have two kids (two and four) and thankfully got the MBA's done already. We tried to eat as a family every night, but that's just not realistic (the kids are hungry long before I get home). We've found that feeding them early and then sitting down together is a good way to "re-connect" before the bedtime routine kicks in. Last night we shared a bottle of wine, which is helpful too. A two-month old is very high maintenance... hang in there.

Posted by: Jim at February 9, 2006 02:48 PM

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