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’s 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’t 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’t 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’t say the home is full of smiles every night but these changes have certainly helped.