With Davan being out of the house so much these days - Do Jump, art class, 12 hours of gymnastics a week, reading to preschoolers, swimming, book group, play dates - we've been searching for balance. It seems like when we're all home together, we are striving to "do something" together. That's a good idea in part, but, it also is creating some friction.
When Davan gets home from gymnastics, there is about 45 minutes before bedtime. During that time, she usually needs a snack (or, sometimes, practically a whole meal) and she also gets ready for bed - brushing teeth, filling her water bottle that she keeps by her bed, putting on pjs. The pressure to also "do something" together...well, often I think we should because she's been away and Anthony hasn't seen her all day. However, the flip side is that there is some stress about figuring out what to do and stress on Davan's part if she whiles away time eating her snack and flipping through a magazine, only realizing too late that there isn't time to "do something" together.
Flipping through the magazine should be a valid choice, as well. And she does get read to for 20 minutes at bedtime. We make sure it's Anthony reading on the nights he hasn't seen her all day. But, back to the other side, that's a lot less time than we're used to spending together as a family.
We talked to Davan about pushing her bedtime back an hour. We'd also push back Anthony's and mine, causing him to go into work an hour later and getting home an hour later. Davan didn't want to. She's very much attached to her bed time and her routine. She doesn't like it disturbed. As Anthony likes the hours he works and wasn't excited about changing, we just left well enough alone.
Even on weekends, it sometimes feels like we should be all "do something" together. However, we each have our own interests, as well. Yeah, we can pursue those interests to a good extent during the week. Davan and I do have some time during the day, usually, in amongst all of our activities. Anthony has time in the evening when Davan is at Do Jump or gymnastics...except that he and I have been spending some of that gymnastics time watching Buffy.
Watching Buffy means that he's not messing around on the computer, checking Craig's List and EBay for deals (a favorite pass time, even though he doesn't buy much), or out in the garage, working on his bike or current woodworking/metal/automotive project.
Watching Buffy means that I'm not on the computer (although I do feel like I often spend too much time here anyway), or going for a walk (which I've been pretty good about fitting in after dropping Davan off and before Anthony gets home) or playing the keyboard (I'm really enjoying working through Davan's lesson books) or reading.
Buffy is fun, too, and constitutes an interest, but I have to say that I'm kind of glad we don't have the next season yet and are doing other things. I guess even in doing things separately or in smaller family groups, there is balance to be achieved.
The thick and thin of it is that we need to find the balance between doing stuff together and exploring our own interests (not to mention balance between the easy lure of TV/computer and other things). We need to find a new balance point with the new activities. It may take some tipping back and forth to find our comfort areas. It'll happen, though.