Maybe I need to just make peace with the simple short evenings that are happening right now. Here's the basic template:
5:45 pm Arrive home from work (though if traffic is bad, I can be closer to 6 pm). G (our nanny) tells me about all of the cuteness/craziness that happened while I was away, and heads off.
6 pm PLAY. Seriously, that's what we do.
Both kids, princess play, pretend play, chasing around balls, sometimes magnatiles/puzzles (currently limited because Mr C is a one-man wrecking crew and he is EFFICIENT, which infuriates his sister). Once a week or so I FaceTime my parents so they can hang out (virtually) with us.
6:50 pm Cameron's bedtime routine: warm milk (in a sippie cup -- no more bottles in this house!!), brush his 6 teeth, diaper, sleep sack, 2 books (w/ Annabel), and bed. He is very easy and there is minimal if any protest. (Never change, Mr C. Never change.)
7 pm C is asleep. A gets a 30 minute allotment of screen time because -- honestly, it's a nice short break for me. Right now I'm typing this post and drinking a glass of sauv blanc. Ahhhh. Sometimes Josh comes home at this point; other nights he comes home after A is in bed or much later.
7:30 pm "Quality time" w/ A. Interestingly, if Josh is home, she basically wants nothing to do with me. But if it's just us, it's really nice. We do some kind of play activity (trains, puzzle, pretend, etc) and then start her bedtime routine, which is considerably longer than Cameron's. Typically it goes something like this:
2 books+ (this can take a while, she will stop and ask lots of questions sometimes)
Frozen song in bed (on my phone - we are going to phase this out, I think)
Bed - typically at 8:30 or so
If Josh came home during this interval, I will often let them have their time together and hang out reading facebook/blogs/etc.
8:30 pm Dinner. Either solo (meh) or with Josh (much nicer). We are very very lucky in that our nanny likes to cook, so we usually heat up something she has made during the day, or eat leftovers. (And yes -- she makes recipes from my favorite paleo cookbooks. She is the best.)
9:00 pm Brief clean-up and then maybe one 30-minute TV show (The Mindy Project tonight, hopefully. Or if I'm by myself - Jane the Virgin.)
9:30 pm In bed. Read for 10 minutes, or until I'm about to pass out and fall asleep.
That's it. I'm lame, what can I say? Except that maybe this is enough right now. In a little while when C is going to bed later, I could see us hitting the playground or going for an outside walk when it is light outside late. But for now, this rather simple routine makes sense.
I have added a weekly "night out" for myself on Thursdays when I work a little later and then go to barre, which I really like. It's just one night a week, but it actually really helps me to know that 1/5 nights is not my responsibility.
So that's it! I would looooooooove some more ideas of how to use this (limited but precious) time. What do other mothers of young children do in the evenings, and what do I have to look forward to when A&C are older? Also -- curious about other kids' bedtimes!
New app: moment
Finally, an iPhone use tracker! I know what my goal is going to be for next month . . .