I know I talked about it previously, but the message on this podcast is still resonating with me…lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to make our daily “to-dos” more like daily “rituals”. More regular. More fun. And more memorable.
Mr. Maypop travels frequently for work; he is out-of-town two to three nights most weeks, and that means that it’s just me and the two boys many nights. By the second night of the Mister being gone, I’m really struggling. Often, I just want to “tap out” or pass the baton, but I can’t. It’s just me. There is no one to jump in the game for me while I take a quick water break. So, I’ve had to come up with other ways to cope, especially during the witching hour of dinner/bath/bed. (Side note: why is this time of night so hard? Before I was a mom, I envisioned sweet lavender-scented bubble baths, a little one snuggling up beside me to read a story, singing a favorite lullaby, and then kissing my precious angel to sleep. My real nights are nothing like that, especially with two boys. I feel more like the Mom in Where the Wild Things Are and more often like I want to send them to bed without supper. I could write a whole post about this, but I’ve digressed).
Back to trying to manage two small boys by myself. In addition to trying to cope with the witching hour, I’ve also been looking for ways to get in more exercise. We’ve had a month or so of colds and viruses that we can’t seem to shake. The gym hasn’t been an option, as I don’t want to drop my sick kids off and risk infecting healthy kids. I’ve tried walking with Whitt in the stroller while Harrison rides his bike. It’s great for Harrison, but it’s hardly a physical workout for me. Mostly, it’s a mental and emotional battle, full of pitfalls like “Slow down; wait for Mommy!” or from Harrison, “my sleeves are too silly (does not have the right word to tell me that some minuscule thread is out of place in the seam of his sleeve and that he simply cannot ride farther without continuing this tantrum until I fix said “silly sleeve”). He’s also dressed head-to-toe in legitimate dirt bike attire (riding pants, gloves, full face helmet, long-sleeved jersey) despite the fact that it is 95 degrees outside. I can never persuade him to ride in “normal clothes”, because he has a pedal bike that looks like a dirt bike, and real “dirt bike men” wear their clothes even when it’s hot, Mom. This means more gear adjustments and frequent water stops. As you can imagine, I’m getting my heart rate up from the anxiety and not the cardio. Of course I’ll continue to let Harrison ride his bike, but doing so means I still need another way to get in some exercise for myself.
When Harrison was little and I was working out of the house, I would occasionally take him for a ride in the stroller in the evenings after his bath, just to get in a few more minutes with him. I suppose it was Mommy guilt from working so many hours and spending so much time away from him. It was a sweet time, just the two of us, walking while the sun set. It was time for us to both unwind from the day. After our peaceful stroll, I would bring him home, both of us more relaxed than when we’d started our walk, to finish the bedtime routine.
I’m not sure what reminded me of those walks, but in an effort to fill the witching hour and also get in some exercise for me, I decided to bring back our nighttime Bobby rides. Side note – we call our stroller “the Bobby”. We have a BOB jogging stroller, and the Mr. and I refer to it as “the Bob”, as in, “please strap Harrison into the Bob”. When he was little, Harrison put a “y” sound on the end of many words and names, and so his buddy “Sam” was “Sammy”, “bib” was “bibby”, and “the Bob” became “the Bobby”. And, the Bobby has stuck. It could be because I’ve intentionally never tried to correct him…did I mention I’m a little sentimental? We now have two Bobbys – the little one (single) and the big one (double).
Anyway, when Mr. Maypop is working out-of-town, I feed the kids dinner a little earlier, bathe them, put them in their pajamas, and then I put them both in the double stroller for a sunset “Bobby walk”. It’s a win-win; they kids wind down and relax in the Bobby before bed, and I get in some exercise. And, since they’ve already had their baths and are in their pajamas, they understand that they’re clean and can’t get out to explore. They also understand that this is Mommy’s turn to exercise.
Harrison is really interested in dinosaurs right now, so to keep him amused, I’ve started spotting dinosaurs on our walk. We stop at the large front pond in our neighborhood, and I immediately point out a Brachiosaurus wading in the water. I quickly step up our pace when I spot a Spinosaurus hot on our heels! What’s that sound in the woods? Sounds like a Corythosaurus to me. At first, Harrison was puzzled, but now he’s on to my imaginary game, spotting a Triceratops across the field or a Diplodocus nibbling leaves from a treetop. Whitt joins in on the action too, with an impromptu “oooh”, as he points out his own dino find with his sweet chubby, still-dimpled hand. I smile just thinking about how much fun we have in the evenings on these walks. Harrison, or “Dino Dan”, as he prefers to be called now, has even started requesting to go on a “Bobby walk”. And, he’s translated them to time with Daddy too. While we were riding in the Ranger the other night, Harrison exclaimed “Drive faster, Daddy; there’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing us!”
And, this is how our newest ritual has come to be: the nighttime Bobby walk. It’s simple. It’s regular. And, I know it’s something they’ll both remember.
Here are a few other ideas for surviving the witching hour:
What about you? How do you cope with the witching hour? Any special tips or sweet rituals you’d like to share?