“One Evening” is a photo essay series that provides a sneak peek into the everyday lives of the Fairfield County Moms Blog contributors. The evening routine is photographed by Anna-Liisa Nixon Photographyand words are written by each mom to tell the story behind the images. It’s a rare and intimate look into each family’s life, one evening at a time.
I love a good photo op, so when I heard Anna-Liisa Nixon was going to capture our evening routine, I was super excited. Even more, I was excited that there would be no coordinating of outfits, no timing of meals to prevent unnecessary meltdowns, and no packing of snacks that wouldn’t stain my children’s’ outfits on the car ride over. Nope, there was none of that. We came as we were, or should I say, she came to us. Easy peasy.
But, frankly, there was one detail I worried about. After seeing my fellow FCMB “One Evening Series,” with their children eating outside, frolicking thru bubbles and riding power wheels, I was worried our routine wouldn’t compare. With three children ages 6, 3 and 4 months, our 5-7 evening routine is all business: dinner, bath, bed, bam! Nothing exciting. Nothing fun.
But then I laid eyes on our photos, and realized our routine was anything but boring. Boring is sitting around. Boring is calm. Boring is quiet. Really, what was I thinking?! My typical evenings involve juggling plates, assisting half dressed children, negotiating with threenagers and attempting to contain tiny humans who are quite literally bouncing off the walls (and floors and couches and beds).
Our evening with Anna-Liisa was real. It was two hours of my children disregarding personal space and yelling, “Don’t take my picture,” “Take a picture!” It was us being us. Thank you for your patience, Anna-Liisa. Thank you for capturing these crazy, anything but boring, beautiful moments.
On weeknights the kids and I are typically home by 4:00 p.m. With a preschooler and first grader, our after school activities are limited to a night or two a week, and on those days we are home around 5:00 p.m. On any given night, my 6 and 3 year old will alternate between playing nicely and arguing over what is on the TV. While I’m prepping dinner, the baby is either in his swing, bouncer or smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor. Yes, #thirdchild over here.
During the week, I serve the kids dinner in the living room. I wait to eat dinner with my husband after the kids have gone to bed. It’s quality time for us and allows me to enjoy my meal hot, in semi-silence AND while seated. For us, it works.
On this particular night, dinner was a favorite, what my kids call, “salty chicken,”or to those outside of our four walls, baked chicken with a generous helping of Adobo seasoning. Add in some Trader Joes brown rice and cut up fruit and we are good to go. Once dinner is served, my son (nine times out of ten) will line up his cup with his sisters and complain that his has less milk in it. It does not.
Once the older two are set with their food (and the milk has been compared and checked) I’ll scoop up the baby and nurse him on the couch. With all kids fed I am allotted roughly five minutes of quiet before there are requests for seconds of cut up fruit or some sort of condiment.
During dinner the dog sits parked underneath the kids. Best seat in the house.
At six and three years old, my kids are pretty good about eating dinner. Once in a while my three year old decides he is suddenly unable to feed himself. Depending on my mood or if I’m busy, I will deny or accept his request to spoon feed him.
Once dinner is finished (it typically is), the kids are allowed to pick a “special treat.”
Around 6:00 p.m. I bring the baby upstairs for his bath while the older two stay downstairs and finish their dessert. The baby loves bath time and so do I. It’s a brief escape from the noise and chaos.
As we are finishing up I will call the other two clowns to come upstairs.
Since having the baby, my older two have become more independent. They will undress themselves and my daughter will now start their bath. I will verbally guide her through the routine if I hear them losing focus or getting too rowdy. More often than not, this is the case.
Parenting from the room over has its own set of challenges. Each night I try to find that delicate balance of talking loud enough for my daughter to hear over the running water, but quiet enough where I am not screaming over the baby. Half the time I end up leaving a half-dressed baby on the bedroom floor so I can assist in the bath set-up or to break up an escalating argument. Again, #thirdchild. He is such a good baby!
Once the baby is fully dressed (and buttoned), I’ll plop him in his crib while I wrap things up in the tub. At this point we are on borrowed time with the baby getting fussy.
Even though my six year old is fully capable of dressing herself, she often gets distracted by her stuffed animals, jumping on the bed, or takes 15 minutes to put on skin cream. My three year old, on the other hand, is a little more focused, but often requires some assistance getting on his underwear or pjs.
Once the older two are dressed, I’m back to getting the baby ready for bed. Because the baby was born with a genetic condition called Clubfoot he wears special boots and a bar (BNB) 23 hours a day for three months. Since these pictures were taken, he has graduated to part time wear, only having to wear them at night and during naps.
The kids then brush their teeth and I attempt to wind things down for the evening. For some reason, of course, this is often the time when they get silly.
Come 6:30/6:45 p.m. the baby is fussing or full on crying because he is SO ready for bed. While I feed him his bottle the older two are in their room reading books. It has been super helpful having a new reader in the house. My first grader will often willingly read to her brother until I put the baby to bed or until my husband gets home from work (a little before 7:00 p.m.).
When my husband gets home he reads to them and lets them each pick a song to listen to (typically from a Disney movie or a Broadway show). I pick out their outfits for the next day and kiss them goodnight while they have quality time with their Dad. I head downstairs to prep dinner and make lunches for the next day.
So, this is our evening. It’s nothing too exciting. And it’s far from boring. It’s exhausting, and crazy and full of beautiful, little moments. Perhaps you can relate.
Images for this project are captured by Anna-Liisa Nixon Photography. Anna-Liisa specializes in documentary family photography and loves capturing the real, silly, weird, and tender moments of childhood. She captures that blur of motherhood — the laughter and tears, the real moments and connections, and the unique rhythm of a family. To learn more, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
To see all posts in the “One Evening” photo essay series view here.