Friday, October 1, 2010

The Chaotic Hours

We have undergone some huge changes in our household over the past few weeks. Me? I am still in my adjustment period.

As I may have mentioned before, Mrs. LIAYF is working outside the home once again. In another city. Thankfully, she loves the job and the commute promises to get better in time, but for now she is out of the house for nearly 12 hours per day during the work week.  That leaves the responsibility on me to get Lukas up and to his preschool, then back home in the evening after work.

Mornings are a piece of cake, with Lukas waking up happy and ready to tackle the world.  We could use some better time management and often more sleep, but in all it goes pretty smooth.  It's after work that the real fun begins.

I'm a quiet guy who works in a relatively stressful job.  I am, by definition, solving problems all day long.  Often by the end of the day I am mentally drained, and not ready to deal with what inevitably lies ahead of me.  Part of what contributes to the chaotic atmosphere that often ensues can be attributed to tired bodies, and attempting to fit a lot into a small window of time.
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Over the past three years, I haven't worried to much about lack of sleep.  When it happened, we could handle that with ease.  But I'm finding that those hours between when I pick him up from preschool (where napping is difficult at best) and when we get him to bed - I have dubbed them The Chaotic Hours - to be a whole new challenge for me. 

We have handled it so far.  But there have been some rough patches.  At times I feel as if I am the caricature of the harried parent.  This is exacerbated on the nights we have to stop at the grocery store, before hurrying home to get dinner prepped and on the stove before Mrs. LIAYF finally arrives from her long commute.  I am often stumbling up the stairs, dropping things which are otherwise stuffed - to the brim - under my arms, only to find my keys in an inaccessible pocket. 

When I do get inside and convince my son to follow me, I am usually greeted by bellowing cats who want to be fed (That is, when they aren't hiding because they've puked right in front of the door). After which I have to immediately start prepping for dinner while washing the dishes or unloading the dishwasher, so I have the proper tools to work with.

Add in ringing phones, an insistent boy who always want me to come play with him *NOW*, and an urgent need to pee from all the running water during dish washing, and by the time 7:00 rolls around I sure could use a cold beer to calm my nerves.

Life happens during that time.  Real life.  It's like 4th and 1 from the 1/2 yard line each and every night.  It can be intense.  And I am thrilled when my lovely wife walks through that door.

Yes, I understand that many of you must deal with this times two, or three, or even more.  I salute you, and am certainly not attempting to compare my responsibilities as a parent to yours.  I am just saying that there are times when we are asked to step up.  To contribute in new ways you are unfamiliar with. This is where I've found myself these past few weeks. And it has been an adjustment period.

But life is about making adjustments, right?  And then hoping there is a moment of zen before you have to start the process over again.  Plus, no matter how harried it gets, I am always glad I get to spend that time with Lukas.  Mrs. LIAYF doesn't get that opportunity.

What about you readers? How do you keep sane during your Chaotic Hours?

This post brought to you in conjunction with Fatherhood Friday over at Dad Blogs. Click on over and check out all the great parenting related post.

19 comments:

Leo said...

I get that same feeling on a daily basis. My struggle is that I'm a single dad, so there's no reprieve until I get my 7-year-old to bed. There just aren't enough hours in the day. By the time she's in bed and I get to start unwinding, it's after 9 pm.

I sympathize. My trick is afb occasional tension release playing Rock Band, our anything else that let's me blow off steam.

Steve said...

I get the "Daddy can you play with me" on repeat from my 3yo daughter. Fortunately she also likes to help, so provided I enlist her to "help" with preparing dinner, she is happy.

Despite the Chaotic Hours being tough, I do miss them on the rare occasions when my wife and kids are away and house is silent.

Eric said...

How do I keep sane?? I don't...

Since I work all day and the wife is at home, I tend to take over duties once I'm finished with work. It gives her a break and time to do things she couldn't with four kids running around.. I tend to get anxiety (self diagnosed) when I realize things are not going to happen the way I planned. Like if there are more dishes than usual, the clothes need to be folded etc.. But I usually get that way when I need to clock back into work at a certain time for some OT. I'm against a hard target where I need to be done with the stuff or it gets left over until tomorrow, which I hate.

Suggestions for dinner since it's crazy when you get home. Possibly take use of the crock pot. Let it cook while you're at work so that way it's ready to go when you get home... Or even prep tomorrow's dinner the night before. Wrap it and put it in the fridge. When you get home, you have less prep time and more time to help Mr Peebody.. :)

Captain Dumbass said...

Gah, I feel like a zombie during those hours. You figure it out, let me know.

Homemaker Man said...

Somedays, I handle it all like a super hero. Cracking the right jokes, keeping the kids busy, and getting the house neat. we all laugh and enjoy each oether's time and it can't get more perfect. Other days, I want to stick my head in the garbage disposal.

Kids: Like if manic depression were a virus

Doug @ Daddy's Tired said...

The Chaotic hours are rough and I find myself begging for the weekend before it comes. It has however gotten easier since we've employed a calendar on the fridge to keep track of meals and appts...One less thing to worry about. Try tackling things in little bits, it's a lot less stressful

Mighty M said...

My husband is gone 10.5-11 hours a day and I totally get this. It's very hard. And with two sometimes our mornings start out bad, and the day just gets worse. I often am pouring a glass of wine as soon as the clock hits "5:00". I also try to get plenty of exercise and alone time in the morning to help me prepare for the challenges of the day.

Mrs. LIAYF said...

Honey, I ADORE you! You have not been just "managing things" during this period, you have been a champ! Lukas and I couldn't do it without you.

Much love, wif

Papa K said...

I hear you brother. When I first started staying at home and when my wife went to work it felt like I was never going to get used to our schedules. Fortunatly... you adapt and things become easier as the time goes by.

Quite often I look back pre-kid and think, "Gawd... I can't believe I had it so easy..."

ciara said...

it's never easy whether it's one child, three, or 12 lol there's always a period of adjustment when something changes. i got married and moved to cali about a month and half after. i had to get used to my husband doing his commute and being gone to work for about 12hrs a day, incorporating my kids' activities, their school day, etc. but now i'm so used to my husband being gone for several hours, that when he's home for long periods of time, i sometimes get to a point where i'm ready for him to go back lol his commute got shorter about a year or so ago, so we're glad about that. btw he's on vacation in about a week. lawd help me not wanna strangle him by the end of it lmao jk :o)

Lady Mama said...

Yup. It's tough. I think of that scene from Nemo "Just Keep Swimming" and I just keep going and going and going. Some nights I lie down in bed and wonder how I got through the day. But you just do, and the rewards are there, as you said. Being a parent is the best and hardest thing I've ever done. And then there's always wine...

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Booze. Big goblets of booze.

Denny P 3 said...

There is no sanity in our house. I do have the same problem as you in terms of the keys. How is it that they are always in the pocket on the side where you are carrying in all the bags? Is it some sort of conspiracy or something? It drives me crazy.

Julianna said...

You just described my life, everyday, times two. As a single parent of two, organization is key. I use every spare moment I can to do the yucky stuff (grocery shop, running to the dump, banking)while they're at school or day care. Learn how to use a crock pot... it will change your life. :)

Ordinary Dad said...

No advice as to how to make this better, but someone should invent a lanyard with a magnet on the end that you could just wear around your neck that way the keys would always be right on your chest and you could just pull them off...Hang in there, adjustments are tough.

morethananelectrician said...

Finding some kind of routine should help gets things back on track...this sounds like a lot of stress on the family system. Hang in there and try to not let the changes get everyone too out of whack. I couldn't handle all of it...my wife is the glue that holds all of our chaos together.

Jack said...

This is why I have an IV injecting me with large doses of caffeine throughout the day.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Leo - Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the tip. Right now my blog is how I blow off steam, but I need something else.

@Steve - Yes. I get that on repeat too.

@Eric - Love the crock pot idea. Need to start using the one in back of our cupboard.

@Mighty M - I need to add excercise to the mix, definitely.

@Captain - Yes, a Zombie. Deal.

@Homemaker Man - Yep, there are good and bad days. Need more good ones always.

@Doug - Thanks for the tips. Tackle in little bits will help.

@Mrs. LIAYF - Thanks Sweets. You are a Peach.

@PapaK - I KNOW!

@Ciara - Yes, change is hard, no matter where you are starting it from. I get used to this, I'll not want to change routines again.

@lady Mama - Or beer. I'm going to keep swimming.

@Daddy Geek Boy - Note to self. Need to pick up Goblets.

@Denny - Isn't that the worst? Gawd that drives me nuts. Thanks for stopping by.

@Julliana - I salute you!! I could not do it alone, with 2 no less.

@Ordinary Dad - Good point. When I was using the bus recently I had to put my pass around me neck because I kept losing it. Need to do that with the keys too.

@MTAE - Mine too. That's why it's so tough having her gone for that long a time.

@Jack - I think part of the problem is that I have drank so much coffee by the time I am getting home. My nerves are shot.

SciFi Dad said...

I disappear into the bathroom for five minutes and lock the door on my way in.