Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mad Dogs and Englishmen (women and children)

It's all going a bit pear shaped in the Brit household.

I have a routine that I like and enjoy which is as English as it gets which goes something like this.

12-5pm: (once I have picked them up from nursery) various activities with the boys, outside as much as possible preferably running them into the ground. Luke isn't really doing naps any more so it is 5 hours of fun fun fun.

5pm - I start thinking about dinner. The TV can go on from this point, but in reality comes on when I have had enough and everyone is starting to kill each other. This can be as late as 6.30 but usually is around 5.30pm. I use the respite to cook dinner when I can concentrate on what I'm doing and not having to worry about stirring a cheese sauce whilst simultaneously refereeing the latest fight and acting as activity coordinator and retrieving toys thrown too high for them to reach.

6pm - dinner during which at some point Daddy normally reappears leading to much excitement and then more rampaging around the house.

6.30pm - bath, pyjamas, teeth, one last (calming) DVD, stories and bed. If I'm on my game it'll all be over by 7.30, sometimes stretching out as far as 8pm.

8pm - And relax: a glass of wine, The Archers (we are one hour ahead of UK time) and time to sit on the porch watching the rest of Bosnian society heading into town.

The Bosnians are true Europeans though. Their children nap in the afternoon up until the age of about 6 but don't go to bed until 10pm or later. For a long time I haven't able to understand this. But the latest bout of hot weather (it's been up to 40C here again) has shown me why this attitude makes a LOT of sense.

No one is outside between 12 and 4. No one. Absolutely not a soul. Sometimes it is just me, the boys and the dog. Wilting. So hot and sweaty and miserable. Even with SPF 50, sun suits, hats and the full British hot weather look, it is miserable. I have come to understand that just because there is blue sky outside doesn't mean that outside is the place to be. Obviously this goes against every English bone in my body. It still feels wrong to be inside when the weather outside looks so enticing.

But I have come to understand that it is best that the kids get their outdoors fix after 5pm. The temperature is so much more pleasant. Everyone else is out there too, so there are others to play with.

With this understanding has come a realisation that we will have to change our routine, for the summertime at least. Now, I'm pushing them to have a nap during the afternoon. Sit quietly. Maybe even put the DVD on (arrghgh, this seems so wrong, against my not before 5pm rule). Then, when the heat of the day has subsided we head on out for the outdoors fun at what should really be outdoors time.

This means bedtime has gone totally to pot. The other night they were still rocking at 10pm, and even being pretty good with it. I've had my moments of stressing about it. I certainly miss my evenings. But the whole of the rest of the day is so much less stressful and so much more fun that I'm finding I don't need them quite so much.

In many ways I'm looking forward to the arrival of autumn, cooler weather and a re-installment of my old routines, but in the meantime it is a case of when in Tuzla...


Mwa said...

You said it. Sounds like a far more sensible routine. I hope you get a siesta yourself. We're going to have a 34 degree day today, so I'm doing the same.

Kathryn said...

Well done you for realising this so early on - it took me years to cotton on to the fact that 'shifting' our times would be better all round and then years to be able to put it into practice - like you said - it goes against every British bone in my body!!

PippaD said...

It must be so odd, but I bet changing will be the best thing you do this week!

nappy valley girl said...

We've had to change our routine too, with the heat. The couple of hours after lunch are always a quiet time, them watching TV and me doing my computer/blog stuff. Then we'll go out around 4, come back, have supper outside, and bed after DVDs etc. But they often stay up until 9ish now, and like you, I miss my evenings.

SandyCalico said...

I love the title of this post. I'd struggle to change our routine. Good luck with yours, let us know how you get on x

Nicola said...

I wish my boys could have a summer routine similar to that - for the first time ever I would actually like them to be up in the evening so that we can continue to socialise with friends, take advantage of the balmy weather.

My problem is that after a late night they still wake so bloody early and are complete ratbags the next day. I wish it was different. Maybe one day, one day they will sleep in past 5.30am, irrespective of what time they have gone to bed. So - I still have my evenings (predominantly alone) but envy you your summer nights just chilling with family and friends.

TeacherMommy said...

That's most definitely the sort of adaptation that must be made in that sort of weather. Growing up in the tropics, we had the very sensible practice of a siesta during the hottest part of the day. I hardly ever slept--I'd read instead--but that time of rest after eating the midday meal is something I wish I could still do.

By the way--I've always wondered something. What on earth does "going pear-shaped" entail? What does that phrase come from or mean? It's such a British phrase, and one about which I am curious.

Alice said...

Sounds fab. How did you do it though? Are they actually having the nap!? "Stirring a cheese sauce" - I am impressed!

Sparx said...

We're doing the same here in France, it does make more sense and he has a better quality of life. We're eating dinner together now which I like too.

Have posted both your poo stories up over at mine in the poo carnival if you want to come by!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Mwa - I wish I could do the siesta thing, but I find I just can't get going again...

Kathryn - I can't get over the urge to 'go outside' whenever I see blue sky. Ridiculous really, but makes sense in the UK.

Pippa - it is weird but we'll get used to it!

NVG - I so miss the evenings. Don't feel like I get much of a break when they are in bed just before me.

SC - It's quite scary, going out of the routine, but seems to be working so far!

Nicola - we have an element of the 5.30am going on here too. Grrrr.

TM - we don't have a shaped. Pear shaped - no idea where the phrase came from? In use quite commonly in the UK. I think it probably refers to things that are supposed to be round and are just slipping a bit. Or maybe how us women get all a bit more pear shaped with age... who knows?

Alice - hello! No they don't nap generally (maybe Luke) but we try to get some sitting quietly with stories, jigsaws or the odd DVD. Something to recharge the batteries before full charge ahead at the active part of the day, when they run around until they are tired enough to sleep!

Sparx - love the poo carnival, thanks for including me. I know what you mean about a better quality of life for them, and we are also eating more with ours. That said my eldest is such a fussy eater that supper time is not exactly stressfree...

Anonymous said...

It is a v British reaction to seeing glorious sunshine and blue skies to feel inordinately guilty for doing anything other than 'making the most of the good weather!'

Pretty exhausting if it is also blisteringly hot and like that every day!

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

OH !! HI !!!!!!!

Holy Crap I can TOTALLY relate to this !! Oh you are so cool!

*calming down* :P

I found you through sparx and thought "Hey! She moved too!" So I came to check you out and it's like you read my mind - all to way to Mexico! :)

It's the same thing with the heat and the people here, and my husband and I have had a hard time adjusting to it. His family ALWAYS plans fiestas and dinners on sundays or during the week, but not till after like 7pm, and they go till at least Midnight! My husband I work early in the morning and just can-NOT get used to taking an early day nap so we can stay up late and still be fresh for work. I don't know, it just freaks us out or something and come 9pm we're afraid we'll turn to pumkins if we don't get to bed.

His family thinks we're weird but chalk it up to me being american.

Anyways, cool post ! Thank You !

SandyCalico said...

Me again!
I've just been reading an old Alpha Mummy post about CBeebies. I was scanning down the comments and who did I see? That's right, Fraught Mummy. All I've got to say is Chris from Doodle Doo? Me too! ;-)

Metropolitan Mum said...

You are letting go of your evenings? I am not sure I could do that. You will have to let us know how you are doing...

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Mud - so British. Wish I could lose that part of my pysche but it is hard wired!

Gringa - hello! Not just me then? Phew!

SC - God spot! I know I need to get out more but it is a close run thing between Chris from Doodle Do and Robbie Rotten from Lazy Town... how embarrassing.

MM - I'm planning to retake the evening slot for myself as soon as the weather cools down a bit and I can get them running around outside exhausting themselves during the afternoon again. Right now I'm doing ok, but I'm clinging onto every precious minute they are at nursery giving me some head space of my own!