Before we had kids, Tony and I lived by the seat of our pants. We'd decide to go to a movie in the middle of the week five minutes before it started; throw house parties for no reason; find last minute flight deals and hop on planes to foreign countries just because we could. We were spontaneous and exciting and I liked it that way. If life got too predictable I became antsy and irritated, I was afraid that we would turn into my biggest fear: an old, boring couple.
Oh, how things have changed. I've realized that the answer to life with two young children is to keep a military-style schedule. If I have to run out at the last minute to buy an ingredient for that night's dinner or the baby skips his nap, we fall into a downward spiral of screaming children, ignored bedtimes, and irritated parents.
These days, there is nothing I find more comforting than routine.
Everything in our life now necessitates planning in advance. Something as simple as running errands on a Saturday requires us to divide and conquer, to pack an assortment of snacks and outfits, to map out our route in order to encourage or prevent a nap in the car, depending on a number of factors and circumstances.
The thing is that I, the one whose biggest fear was predictability, have embraced this lifestyle more than anyone else in our household. I'm the one constantly looking at the clock, the one writing down lists and enforcing strict schedules. While Tony won't deny that having a schedule and sticking to it is what makes our family work, he often chides me for becoming so anal. "Relax, these children are not robots!" he reminds me whenever I try to interrupt a tickle fight because it's cutting into bath time.
Even though we thrive on routine, my fear did not become true. Our life is anything but boring. There is always something exciting happening when two young children are around - whether it's a baby with a Lego in his mouth or a preschooler learning to tie his shoes. Those minutes between the bullet points on my strict schedule are filled with new experiences, discoveries and milestones.
Still, after the children are in bed and it's just Tony and I, I yearn for the freedom (and energy) of our childless days. I still love to go to the movies and try out new restaurants. I would very much enjoy a night of live music. And I dream of taking an adults-only vacation to a distant place.
As our children get older (in particular the baby, who will be weaned off breast milk in the next few months), I have a feeling that those things are not necessarily impossible. All we need to make them happen is a little planning in advance.