When we left our home for Christmas traveling a week ago, I was still in rough shape. The two days before we left, I started venturing downstairs where I washed a measly couple of dishes and watched Miriam while Jamey shoveled the driveway so we would be able to get out our driveway. Each of those activities left me wasted and sore. The morning we left, I hobbled out to the van through the shoveled path, clinging to Jamey. Neither of us thought me slipping and falling into a snow bank would improve my chances for a comfortable van ride out of state.
Fast forward one week. Well fed (with too much good food) and well rested, I found myself very comfortable in the passenger's seat of our van on the way home. Sam and Sadie were quietly watching Liberty's Kids on Jamey's laptop (it's a rare occurrence to watch a video on a trip) and Miriam was napping. The sun was shining in on me and my winter jacket provided extra warmth on my lap. My Advil was working. All was well.
I decided to begin the "negotiating discussion" with Jamey before we got home. I know we are not the only couple of kids who do this. It's that dividing of time into blocks where one of us is responsible for the kids so the other can actually get stuff done and then the roles are traded during the next block of time. We do this a lot. In fact, there have been periods of time where Jamey and I were with the kids together (all of us at once) only for meals and church.
This doesn't mean we don't get things done when the kids are around. I can be very productive when I'm with the kids because they are used to me having to do housework while I'm with them. On the other hand, Jamey has some trouble. He's earned the reputation as the one who wrestles, plays games and tells stories, so that's what they expect of him and it makes getting work done more difficult (especially inside winter work).
The reason we needed to have this discussion once again was because Jamey still had two more weeks of winter break left. He spent the first week taking care of me, his gimpy post-surgery wife. He spent the second week traveling. He's left with two weeks to tackle the lengthy to-do list he's made for himself, mostly house repair stuff that he's neglected because of all the studying he had been doing fall semester. I wanted him to feel like he's on break. I wanted to take the brunt of the child care and let him have time to himself. It all seemed very reasonable- I was feeling so much better and was ready to take back my household duties.
Here's what I suggested and he readily agreed to...We would take turns waking up with the kids (Sadie wakes by 6 am). On my morning to be up, he could sleep as late as he wanted to and then get to work on his list, coming in to have lunch with us at noon. On his morning to be up, I would sleep in until 7:30 and then he could get to work, coming in for lunch. We've started back up with school again after two weeks off, so I needed to have Sam and Sadie in the mornings anyway. Every other afternoon, we'd swap kid duty so the other could get things done. This does not mean the one without the kids is doing fun stuff, unless you call uninterrupted laundry folding or re-pointing the mortar in the foundation walls fun.
With the plan in place, we awoke this morning. Jamey got up with the kids and let me sleep until 9-ish. He's a sweet guy. He went to run errands for supplies and returned around 11 am. During the time he was gone, I did school with Sam and tried to tidy up. Sadie mostly played. Miriam was awake for an hour. I was done in.
My mid-section ached from carrying a semi-fussy baby around who seems to strategically place kicks at my incision sites. I was exhausted, light-headed and bit dizzy. To top all that off, my head was spinning due to the chaos of dirty laundry, Christmas toys strewn about, meals to plan for the week, doctor's appointments to be made, phone calls to return, bills to pay....
Needless to say, we had another conversation about the next two weeks. It's pretty different than the first.