Monday, September 10, 2018

Updated Logistics Post

I am finally going to write the long promised post about our current household logistics. But first, an announcement:

For some reason, Blogger has stopped emailing me when I get a comment. I'll have to figure out why
at some point. In the meantime, I'm just trying to remember to check in on my comments every now and then. If I'm super slow answering your comment, chances are I forgot to go check my comments!

And second, a caveat:

We made it through the week of back-to-school events, and I was starting to feel like I had a handle on things. Then on Saturday, Petunia came out from her gymnastics class and announced she was bored with gymnastics and wants to do soccer instead. Or baseball. Or basketball. But preferably soccer. Now, Petunia only got routed into gymnastics because Pumpkin was already doing it, and it is true that Petunia is surprisingly good at all the "ball sports" she's tried.

I don't think it is fair to make Petunia do gymnastics just because that's what Pumpkin likes, so I will look for a soccer team for her to join. But damn, this is going to mess up our schedule. So this post will be out of date in about a month. (I'd already paid for September gymnastics, so I told Petunia she has to finish out this month.)

And now, the current state of our household logistics. It looks like I last updated these in 2012, so uh... a lot has changed since then. (Oops - Blogger helpfully reminded me of the 2014 update after I published this!) Pumpkin is now in 6th grade, and Petunia is in 3rd grade. They walk (!!!) to school in the morning and go to after care in the afternoons.

I'm back to full time regular employee status at a job that is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house, maybe as much as 30 minutes if I leave work late and hit more traffic. Mr. Snarky has been a full time regular employee all along. I think his commute is currently 30 minutes in the morning and 30-60 minutes in the evening, depending on the whims of traffic.

The Base Weekday Schedule

Our alarm goes off at 6:20 a.m. Most Mondays, I get up at 6 and go for a short run/walk in the neighborhood. I have been waking up at 6 on other days, too, and I wish I could say I did something useful with that time, but most days at least one kid wakes up before me or not long after me, so that time tends to just get swallowed into getting the kids breakfast and getting Petunia ready for school (Pumpkin mostly gets herself ready these days).

I still have to get the kids breakfast. If I would get around to rearranging our cupboard so the bowls Pumpkin likes are lower, she could get her own cereal. But Petunia likes toast with sugar after her Cheerios, and that I still have to make.

We all get ready. Mr. Snarky makes the kids' lunches, I help Petunia pick clothes, brush her hair, and put on sunscreen. I shower and get dressed. If I have an early morning teleconference (my company is international, so these happen - and in fact I have a standing 7:30 a.m. meeting every Monday), my routine often stalls here while I go sit at my desk and take the teleconference. Since so much of my work involves distributed teams, no one cares if I dial in to meetings from home or the office. In fact, I work from home every Friday, which is awesome, and I can work from home other days if I need/want to. Mostly, I go into the office, though, because I am still new enough that it helps to be able to catch people in person.

If I don't have an early meeting and I'm not working from home, I leave for work by 8:10, and sometimes as early as 7:45. Mr. Snarky tends to leave around 8. The kids hang out at home until ~8:30 and then walk to school. This is usually really great, except for the one time so far that it started really raining and Pumpkin's friend didn't call to offer to pick them up. I had to drop off a teleconference and drive them to school, because they are San Diego kids and they might melt in the rain. (More seriously, because we don't really have proper rain gear since it almost never really rains here.)

Since both my kids are early risers, they have time to do some homework before school, and they both also usually practice the piano in the mornings.

We work/go to school all day. My new work office is more social, and so I find I spend more time at lunch than I used to. But sometimes the conversation turns to work-related things it is useful to know, so I try not to worry about that. I try to go out for a walk after lunch most days, but my meeting schedule on Thursdays makes it likely that I'll skip the walk that day.

On Fridays, I am working from home. I start work early (by 7:30 if all goes well) and take a short lunch. Then, if nothing has gotten scheduled in the late afternoon/early evening (like a back-to-school bonfire, or haircut appointments for the kids, etc...) I can go for a rollerblade in the afternoon. I try to protect that time, but it isn't always possible.

Now that the kids are back at school, Mr. Snarky likes to pick two consecutive days and bike home from work one day and in to work the following day. During the summer, the camp drop off/pick up schedule made that hard for him to do. Also, it was unusually hot here this summer and he does not like to exercise in the heat.

The kids go to aftercare every day, but on Mondays, Mr. Snarky picks them up early and takes them to piano lesson. On Tuesdays, I pick Petunia up early and take her to art class. Mr. Snarky picks Pumpkin up later. I pick the kids up from aftercare between 5:30 and 6 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Mr. Snarky works during piano lessons. I go shopping for the groceries we can only get at a "regular" grocery store during art class. Our local store is now a Sprouts, which is good for about 80% of what we need. I buy the remaining 20% at the Vons in the same shopping center as the art class on Tuesdays. I generally have about 20 minutes between finishing grocery shopping and Petunia's art class ending. Sometimes I read, sometimes I write or sketch out ideas for one of my projects, sometimes there is something I need to chat with my colleague in Australia about and I do that via our work chat client on my phone, and sometimes I just waste time on Twitter. It depends on what's going on with work and my projects, if I have a book club book I'm trying to finish, and how fried I feel.

Dinner is at about 6 p.m. I cook dinner every weeknight except Tuesday, when Mr. Snarky heats up leftovers and makes a salad for our dinner (since he's home before me).

After dinner, the kids do homework or play and the adults do work, projects, chores, or waste time on their phones. I am trying to do less phone-based time wasting and more reading or projects. The kids rarely need our attention during homework time, but Petunia does like it if someone snuggles with her while she does her reading (she's supposed to ready 15 minutes a day in both Spanish and English). I will always say yes to snuggles and read, too.

At about 7:15, it is shower time. This now happens mostly without our involvement.

At about 8, we offer evening snack. The kids usually have something small (tonight Pumpkin had a banana and Petunia had a yogurt drink). While they have that, I assemble the snack portion of their lunches and the non-refrigerated portion of my lunch. On Monday nights, I also pack up snacks for on the way to art and make sure I have my shopping list in the snack bag.

At about 8:20, the kids get ready for bed. Mr. Snarky helps Petunia floss her teeth (she has to use a special floss threader because of her braces, and my old repetitive strain injury has degraded my fine motor control enough that it is much better if Mr. Snarky does this step). The kids do the rest of their bedtime routine on their own. Mr. Snarky often plays piano while the kids get ready for bed, and sometimes also while they are showering. I usually putter around during these times, finishing off quick tasks. Sometimes (like tonight), I start a blog post.

After the kids are ready for bed, we read stories. We alternate nights: one night I read to Petunia and Mr. Snarky reads to Pumpkin, the next night we switch. We know our days of reading aloud to Pumpkin are probably numbered, but so far, she still likes it.

Lights go out at about 9. Whoever was reading to Pumpkin just says good-night, turns off her light, and leaves her room. And then goes and does the dishes. Whoever was reading to Petunia usually stays and snuggles for 15-30 minutes.

Then we work (if needed), or do other things until bedtime. I try to be in bed by 10:30, and have my lights out by 11. Mr. Snarky stays up much later, usually watching TV.

The Base Weekend Schedule

We still have our Friday night beers most weeks, and plan out our weekend.

I get up at 7 on Saturday mornings, get the kids their breakfast, and then get them (and me) ready for gymnastics. That runs from 8:45 - 10:15. (Petunia's class finishes at 9:45, but Pumpkin is in a higher level class that goes for 1.5 hours.) I crochet and chat with my friend whose kid is in Petunia's class. We're home by a little after 10:30.

Mr. Snarky gets up a little bit after me, and gets the laundry started. Then he goes out for his Saturday morning exercise. This used to be a run, but right now he is going out kayaking on the bay instead. He usually gets one load of laundry on the line before he leaves, and I hang up the second load and start the third when I get home. Three loads gets us through our regular clothes laundry.

Every other Saturday, we also have our low key Chinese lessons. Sometimes, Mr. Snarky takes the kids to the library, too.

I can sleep in on Sunday mornings if I want, but it is rare for me to sleep past 8. I am usually up by 7:30. The kids watch TV, Mr. Snarky does more laundry - sheets and towels on Sundays. I work on my projects on Sunday mornings, and I try to protect this time, with reasonable success. I usually finish up by about 10 and shower and start in on my Sunday chores: menu planning and grocery shopping. I usually squeeze in a load or two of delicate laundry sometime on Sunday, too. If I forget, I can do these on a weeknight, though.

We now have Lego team meetings on Sunday afternoons, too. They last for about an hour, and I let the team play for another 30 minutes, and then the other parents collect their kids.

Mr. Snarky often does yard work or house maintenance type things on one or both of the weekend days. I often have other errands to run (e.g., back to school shopping, our occasional Target run, that sort of thing).

There's a lot of free time in the weekends. We often do something fun together as a family. Some weekends, though, get filled up (like next weekend - we have two kid birthday parties to go to). I can also usually grab some downtime for myself if I want it. Last Sunday, I spent about an hour in my hammock reading. Weekends are also when I write most of my political postcards.

Variations and Other Things

If a kid gets sick, the parent with the least need to be physically in the office that day works from home.

I'm in charge of haircuts and most doctor's appointments. Mr. Snarky is in charge of dentist (and orthodontist) appointments and eye doctor appointments.

When Pumpkin was little, she really needed her routines. She still likes routines, but can roll with changes more now. So dinner can be late if I want to try a new recipe or we decide to go out after piano lessons. We can go out and do things on a weeknight if we need/want to. This is nice, and I think this sort of thing is just going to continue to get easier.


The Monday night piano lessons are new. Petunia used to have swim lessons on Monday, and Pumpkin had piano on Tuesday while Petunia went to art. I'm thinking about what I might want to do with the time that Monday piano lessons opens up: I could maybe go to the gym after work, but then dinner would be late. Or maybe I'll leave my workout schedule as is (although it is currently short a workout) and just work on my projects on Monday.

I'm also considering a Wednesday evening yoga class. It would be after dinner, which feels weird, but I'm sure I'd get used to it. There's a studio in our neighborhood, so I could go after dinner and be home in time for bedtime.

Petunia's request for soccer is going to require some schedule adjustments. This may be what finally leads us to hire someone to help with the kid shuttling. But maybe not - Mr. Snarky is strangely resistant to the idea, and he has a flexible schedule and can perhaps handle soccer practices. I don't know. I've told Petunia that she'll probably have to come with me and Pumpkin to gymnastics at least some weeks, but she may get to go out kayaking with Mr. Snarky some weeks, too. It would have been so much easier if she'd kept liking gymnastics! But she should get to follow her own interests.

The kids do a lot of their homework at aftercare, and are also generally good about staying on top of their own homework. We'll see how Pumpkin handles the transition to middle school, which has more homework and a less regular homework schedule. However, I know from talking to friends that we're extremely lucky not to have to really watch them on their homework, and I'm grateful for that.

So that's the logistics these days. I really should find a time for another workout, but I'm dithering about the yoga class, so I just haven't done anything. I'm trying to make conscious choices about how to use the pockets of time that are opening up, and not let them get filled with mindless time on Twitter or things like that. But there are also things I find useful about Twitter, so I still show up there from time to time.

If I skipped over something you think would be interesting to know about, ask in the comments! I promise to check in on them this week.


  1. Ha. I'm reading through that 2014 post and seeing that I was not yet converted to podcasts at that point. Really getting into podcasts is what made me decide I could accept a longer commute again at the end of last year. Then that company shut down and I'm back to a shorter commute - but still listening to my podcasts!

  2. Thanks for writing it all out! I don't know why it fascinates me so much to sneak a peek into the logistics of other people's lives---I always come away with something useful, though. I like the idea of dividing the appointments. At this point, I schedule all of them, and then I am the default for taking them (if I can't, husband will, but I am the default and the scheduler always) would like to offload some of that mental load.

    1. I'm glad someone enjoys these! And yes, dividing appointment responsibility is awesome. It means that I don't have to think about the kids' dentist appointments at all, unless Mr. Snarky asks me to help with shuttling them to the appointment.

  3. Usually I find people's daily schedules boring, but this one was interesting to me, I guess because a lot of stuff is so different even though we're so similar in many ways. For example all of DC1's homework *requires* a parent. I have to picture walk the Spanish, then read it aloud to hir, then zie has to read it aloud to me (or DH). Then I have to sign it. For English, zie has to read it aloud to me and then has to fill out a sheet about it and I don't have to help with that, but that's only because hir level is so high in English. Most parents in the class are still supposed to do the picture walk/reading aloud etc. for English. And they're supposed to help with the math homework, but we don't because it's so ridiculously easy. Kids under 9 are also not allowed to get themselves to or from school without someone age 18 or older (so big sibs can't walk little sibs). I was stuck behind a school bus in the (lower SES) town next to ours and noted that they have no such requirements.

    I have had a LOT of bad habit formation in the mornings since the last time I did one of these posts. I am no longer impressively out the door 20 min after getting up. I should probably work on that... Maybe next February...

    1. Oh that is so interesting! We're specifically asked NOT to help much with homework, because the teachers use it to judge what the kids understand from the lessons. I don't know if that is a general district philosophy, something specific to our school, or them giving us an easy out since so much of the homework is in Spanish!

      I don't know if there are any rules here about kids walking to school. I did check on California law about leaving kids alone (no specific age limit), but it honestly never occurred to me to check with the school. The friends that walk with our kids are the kids of a super-involved PTA family, though, so I suspect if it wasn't OK, their kids wouldn't be doing it.

    2. We didn't check-- we got info from the school at the beginning of the year this year and last year. Multiple times. Print. Email. On the website. In the handbook we had to read and sign. And verbally during orientation. (At the bus stop last year, one of the dads cheered when his daughter hit the magic age and she could just go to the bus stop with her older brother and he didn't have to accompany them anymore.)

    3. p.s. DC2 is already working on forging our signatures. I sign 3-5 things every night. Hm... I wonder if DC1 got his practice log signed...

    4. Yikes! We have to sign reading logs, but that's it. Unless there is a field trip permission slip or something.

  4. Socal dendrite10:50 AM

    The thing I'm curious about is dinners... if you are picking the kids up from school between 5:30 and 6 pm, how on earth do you manage to get dinner on the table by 6 pm? I'm asking because this is thing I have the most trouble with - I have a small go-to list of very quick dinners, but even these usually take 20 mins to prepare and I am always on the look-out for more ideas.

    1. I should have been more precise! I pick up the kids between 5:30 and 6, but usually closer to 5:30. Dinner is 20-30 minutes after we get home. Since we're so close to school, getting home takes less than 10 minutes, even if we walk. Most of my weekday dinners are ready in about 20 minutes. Click on the "Dinner during Dora" label over on the right to see the recipes I've posted over the years. In general, our weekday dinners are super simple. For instance, here is this week's menu plan:
      Mon - waffles + smoothies
      Tues - leftovers + salad
      Wed - sweet potato tacos (this one will take closer to 30 mins, but I was bored with my faster taco fillings so decided to do this one)
      Thurs - gnocchi with spinach and pine nuts (gnocchi cooks in like 5 minutes!)
      Fri - pizza + salad (I made the pizza dough in the morning and then it takes about 30 mins to get pizza on the table when we get home, but I don't mind later dinners on Fridays)

      So, nothing spectacular. I often do eggs to put in the tacos, and that is something that can be on the table in 15 minutes or less, and is actually pretty nice if we have some good salsa on hand (which we usually do).

    2. Socal dendrite9:56 AM

      Thank you! This is very helpful and I am loving looking through the "Dinner during Dora" posts for inspiration. I have a general rotation but I haven't tried tying it to the days of the week - I think that's a great idea.

  5. I've been meaning to write an updated Daily Routine post on my blog. Do Pumpkin and Petunia do any of their homework at their afterschool program? Baguette does not, although there is time available.

    1. Yes, there is a "homework club" option that they both choose. They figured out that if they do their homework at after care they have more time to play at home. It took a little time for them to figure this out, though. Maybe Baguette will come to that realization soon!

    2. I hope so! Homework volume and complexity are picking up, and it's not possible to get enough done in the evenings after I'm home. At the same time, I know that she needs that break after school gets out (she often spends the entire time outside). Solutions are tricky.


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