The New Normal: Life After Going Back To Work


Back to life, back to reality.

Ever since my gig called parental leave ended a few weeks ago, our home has been in a bit of chaos.

The entire goal of the day now is to survive and get to the end. The mornings are different. The day is different. Thankfully the nights are pretty much the same other than the fact that we are much more tired.

Everything changed when dad went back to work.

Four different people. Four routines changed in a blink of an eye.

Our family is still searching for what we have termed the “new normal” when telling friends and family how things are going.

We are on our way, but we have not found it yet. I mean, personally, I have not had a full five-day work week yet. So how can we have a routine.

Before going on, here is the break down for our week.

Monday-Thursday: K up at 5 am, boys up at 6:30, M up at 6:45, K and boys out the door at 7:15, M out the door at 8:40. K at work for 8:30, M at work for 10.

Friday or other “early days”: K up at 5 am, boys up at 6:30, M up at 6:30, K and boys out the door at 7:15, M out the door at 7:30. K at work for 8:30, M at work for 9.

* Meeting days for K: K up at 5 am, boys up at 6:20, M up at 6:30, K and the boys out the door at 7, M out the door at 8:40. K at work for 8, M at work for 10.

* Event days for K: K up at 5 am, boys up at 6:30, M up at 6:40, K out the door at 7:30, M and the boys out the door at 7:45, M back home and out the door at 9:15. K at work for 8:30, M at work for 10. M would leave work early to pick boys up.

As you can see, the day starts really early for my wife. The reason? It is the only way she can have some quiet time to have a shower, get dressed, eat and prepare for the day before the boys get up.

My wife works 8:30-4:30 and I work 10-6.

This can be challenging when we only have one car (with the car seats) and I work past the time that daycares are open. Not to mention eating dinner later and not seeing the kids until just before they go to bed.

But like I said, we are getting into a routine whether we are pleased about it or not.

During my six months at home, I took care of the boys after Harry got home from school. I got dinner ready and did my best so when my wife got home, she could just relax and hang out.

Now that has flipped. My wife has to leave work, race to get the boys, come home, try to manage dinner prep, keep the boys from having tired tantrums and of course, not blow up at me when I walk in at 7pm. Just to mention, she does not actually blow up, but I would guess that she has the explosives ready.

It is hard. It is hard to go from running the show to walking in to lukewarm dinner and a family that is tired and just ready for the day to be over. But it is what it is for now.

At 7:30 pm the bath and bed train start.

Charlie is up first for his bedtime. We alternate nights with the boys. It works and we have been doing it for several months. He has a bottle and is cribbed by 7:45.

Then Harry goes to bed at 8pm for his bath, book and bed and is usually tucked in by 8:15.

By the time the kids are actually asleep and cleaning up is done, we are both on the couch around 9pm.

Ideally there is a show on we both want to see but to be honest, we are just happy to be sitting in quiet.

Sounds amazing right? Ready to sign up to being a parent? Now you know why people live for the weekend.

So out of all this crazy, we have to come up with five different dinners, keep a dog and cat from peeing on the floor and manage what goes in and out when it comes to the kid’s clothes, coats, shoes etc.

The brain can only handle so much on very little sleep.

Do we want your sympathy? No. We are parents. This is what parents do. I just wanted to paint a picture of what are days are like.

Oh, and it should be obvious to point out that in the middle of all this, we have pretty demanding jobs.

Again. Not breaking news. We don’t want you to throw us a pity party. Just setting context for the “new normal” scavenger hunt we are on.

Throw in variables such as sickness, one kid who won’t eat, generally tired moods, late buses, cold weather and a long list of other little things, it seems like years since it was the summer when our evenings were stress free and full of smiles.

I think by mid November, we will hit our stride. I think we can do it even with the odd work hours I have. One can dream for a day where we both work the same hours and don’t have to worry about long bus trips. But like I said off the top, back to life, back to reality.

Do you have a “normal” in your house? How long are your days? I would love to hear some stories to make me feel better and not so out of sorts.