Back at it

Getting back into the swing of things after a long vacation is always hard.  We’ve just recently done it once (getting back from our summer vacation, which I have yet to write about) and we’re facing our next round of it (because school starts in less than 2 weeks, which is a bummer).  But it’s worse when the whole family is battling jet lag, as we were after our trip home over Christmas.  Making matters even worse was that we had a really short turn-around before getting back to our usual routine.

We had planned to have the boys skip school for the first two days after we got back, returning to Vienna on Wednesday but not sending the boys back to school until the following Monday.  But B ended up sick for large parts of November and December, and he missed so much school that we were worried about him missing more than is allowed, so we lost the option of keeping him home for any extra days.  So instead, we left the US on Tuesday, arrived in Vienna on Wednesday, and B went back to school on Thursday.  (L, who is still in preschool, can miss pretty much as much as we want, so he did stay home until the following Monday.)

We were all exhausted and felt totally dysfunctional.

The frist night we were back, L woke up 3 times overnight.  The first time, I had no idea where I was and was worried I was going to wake my mom . . . who was still awake, because she was at home in Maryland.  At 1:10 in the morning, B got up, out of bed, on his own (which is odd for him in any circumstances — he usually waits for us to come and tell him it’s time to get up), went through the entirely dark house to the living room, turned on all the lights, scared himself with thoughts of a giant, sinister snowman, and came running into our room crying.  It took 2 hours to get him back to sleep.

After that charming night’s sleep, I found I had forgotten how to do EVERYTHING.  I couldn’t remember how to pack B’s snack for school.  I couldn’t remember how to get the boys dressed and out the door in any reasonable kind of time.  I couldn’t remember what time I needed to leave the house to pick B up on time.  And I certainly couldn’t remember how to communicate in German.  My first attempt at post-vacation German resulted in the coffee guy immediately failing over to English despite my continued attempts to communicate in German.

It’s always a bumpy road back to “normal” after a long trip away.  And sleep deprivation never helped anyone adjust any faster.  Next time, I will do whatever I can to NOT have us jump right back into things as soon as we get back!


The kids have done an amazing job adapting to being (back) in school.  Benjamin loves being back (maybe more than he ever has before) and Liam has adjusted to going to school so quickly that I don’t quite believe it (I’m still kind of waiting for the “your kid is inconsolable” phone call that hasn’t come yet).  Yesterday, Liam was so eager to get into class and start playing that he didn’t even come over for a hug and a kiss.  I just got a wave from halfway across the room.  (I was fine, really, if a little shocked.)

Since the kids started school, a week and a half ago, our lives have pretty much revolved around school.  The housework hasn’t gotten done, the errands haven’t been run, we’ve been entirely out of any kind of a routine.  And that’s fine — that’s what we expected, and what we wanted.  Our focus has been on helping Liam have the easiest transition possible to school, and we’re all willing to live with dust bunnies for a while to make it happen.

The first few days of school I actually went to Liam’s class with him and stayed for an hour or so.  Then, I progressed to leaving him for a little while and wandering around the shops near the school to bide my time.  Then, at the end of last week, I gave him and hug and a kiss and dropped him off, but I still lingered near the school . . . just in case.  Monday and Tuesday of this week, he actually stayed for the entire morning (8:30-ish until noon) but I didn’t really trust it, so I still hung out in the general vicinity of the school.  Since we live almost 40 minutes from the school, I was dreading getting all the way home, only to get a call that he needed me, and then being 40 minutes away from being able to rescue him.  But, it didn’t happen — that call never came.

So yesterday, I was brave.  I left.  I dropped both boys off and then went to run some errands (that weren’t right near the school).  I bought some shampoo (for me!), made a haircut appointment (for me!), picked up lunch for the family and then went home to take a shower (all by myself!), drink a cup of coffee (without having to worry where I set the cup), do some laundry and straighten up the house (which all took a shockingly short time).

I love my kids.  I have adored spending the last 5 years with at least one of them all the time.  But, to be honest, yesterday was pretty awesome.  I truly surprised myself with how much I was able to get done, without stress.  The house looks better than it has in weeks, I took care of some things from my to-do list, and I feel GREAT.  The best part is that when the boys came in after school, they were exhausted, but I was “done”.  My chores and errands were finished, I’d already taken a shower, lunch was on the table.  I got to spend the whole afternoon really *with* the kids, instead of getting stuff done and trying to play at the same time.  Yesterday was only the first day of getting close to our new routine, but so far, it really seems like a win for everyone.

New schedule

With Benjamin starting preschool next week, we need to reorganize our morning schedule.  In order to get him there on time, we will have to leave the house half an hour before Dan’s supposed to be leaving now (and more often than not, we don’t make our current schedule, either).  So, we need to start getting up at 5:30 in the morning.  Ouch.

010 (1)We decided to “practice” our morning schedule this week so that if we are totally off on how long everything will take, it won’t result in us being an hour late to school on Monday morning.  Yesterday was our first practice day.  It was a complete failure.  We tried agian today.  Fail again.  For our practice days, we had decided that Dan & I would go through the motions of our usual routine, but that we wouldn’t actually get the kids up early if they weren’t up anyway (because there’s no reason to torture them, which would in turn torture us).

The result is, of course, that the kids didn’t get the memo about getting up early, and since we’ve decided not to wake them, it’s just about impossible to “practice” our morning routine with just Dan & I.  Actually, just me:  both yesterday and today, Dan has ended up dozing off while holding a sleeping Liam who doesn’t want to go back to bed, but isn’t really ready to get up, either.  The whole “practicing” thing was a nice idea, but it isn’t working.  We still have the weekend.  I don’t know what’s the best course of action:  to force the entire family to get up earlier than necessary in order to prove a concept, or let it go and risk being profoundly late to Benjamin’s first day of school on Monday.

I think we’re going to skip the practice and keep our fingers crossed for Monday.