Finally, my life feels "normal" again. Three full weeks on the boat and we have now settled into something that approximates a routine and things are really smoothing out. The fact that Chris is gone before we all get up in morning and generally home after Cha Cha heads to bed means that we can just do our thing and get on with it now.
The first major change is the sudden ability of my kids to sleep until 7am. I think that Chris' alarm at 6-ish was placed in just the wrong spot in their sleep cycles. Now that he gets up much closer to 4:30 than not, they seem to be able to sleep through his general crashing about (stealth is not one of his strong points) and then slumber peacefully until a relatively reasonable time. Game changer. Suddenly everyone wakes up rested, happy and ready for breakfast. Well-slept kids then play nicely in the mornings while I putter about and do some housework, then it is off to various activities, errands etc. It is almost like they are actually humans and not just misery inducing androids sent here to debilitate the world population through sleep deprivation and general whining.
The next biggie is enforcing nap/quiet time and then using that time to work out. Previously I was not even looking at the treadmill until 7:30pm and well....for me, that is a sure recipe for failure. (Side note: Hats off to parents who work outside the house and still manage to work-out. I am here inches away from the gear all day and still find it hard. Great job guys.) Now I get it done, get showered and move on with my day while Bitz naps and Cha Cha enjoys either book reading or movie watching on the couch. The added bonus is that Cha Cha actually rests now instead of just waiting until I leave to get housework done and promptly destroying the entire playroom in a matter of mere seconds. See above re: when kids are rested they are not such jerks. I think my general productivity may be down due to this change, but hey, everyone still has clean knickers and no one has contracted any diseases from the house so we will call it "good enough." This is definitely a selfish act on my part, but it seems to benefiting everyone so we are going to run with it. (Get it? Run with it? Oh man, I do amuse myself so much...) Lastly, this has cut done on our screen time a lot. Since Cha Cha gets her TV then, she is not whining for it all day. Not a perfect solution, but something with which we are comfortable.
I feel like a cloud has lifted and we are living normal lives now. The kids eat three meals and an afternoon snack and no one is hysterical about any of it. We do story, tumbling, dance, playgroup and craft projects, just like the SAHP on TV! We have set bedtimes that occur with out epic meltdown. Sometimes life is just grand. We all miss Chris terribly, but there is a certain ease that comes when you just pull a player out of the equation. It was lovely having him home, and I miss it so much it makes my heart actually ache, but his unpredictable work schedule and the resultant inability to get the kids on a schedule did make it much harder than I had realized. The dirty little secret of this lifestyle is that sometimes it is almost easier when the guys are just "out" and you don't have to be balancing the kids and the scheduling crazy.
Here's to a life that is a little less crazy and little more organized. This structure will see us through. As our friend pointed out "each day the kids are one day closer to 18 and you are one day closer to the next shore duty." Amen brother, amen.