By popular request: Evening routines

I've been saying for years that if I ran the world there would be universal nannies for all parents every day from 6-9 am and 6-9 pm.  I think I've proven my case for the necessity of an assistant in the mornings. Let's roll the tape for the evenings.

I'll go first.

Parameters: Single mom with two kids in school, picked up by babysitter. Kids' dad relieves babysitter between 4:30 and 4:45 and plays with kids outside or in my apartment until I get home.

I leave work at 6, walk to the subway, and am coming out of the subway any time between 6:15 and 6:25. I usually swing into the grocery store around the corner to get something for supper and whatever I'm out of for breakfast and lunch for the kids for the next day. Speed through the aisles, wait at the check-out, chit-chat with Krystal or Stacy or Gloria as one of them checks me out, walk home. As I'm in the elevator I invariably realize I forgot to get something at the store.

Arrive home. Cats and kids rush me. Hugs, kisses, petting. Put down purse and bags, take off shoes, exchange information with kids' dad. He leaves.

Start supper. If I'm lucky, the kids are playing with cars or trains or playing Club Penguin (devil's tool) or Hide the Farts or one of the baseball games on the computer in the living room so I can make supper quickly and with no unnecessarily messy incidents. Dinner probably involves George Forman grill or quick stir-fry of some sort. Need to start ramping up slow cooker again, now that there's a chill in the air.

I feed the cats. Did I mention that my babysitter and her roommate convinced me to start cooking my own cat food? I am such a dumb-ass, because I tried it. It takes about 45 minutes once a week, then I freeze the portions in silpat cupcake tins, pop them out, and store them in the freezer, 'til I thaw them and plop them on the plate for the cats. Their fur is definitely shinier and they have more energy and seem more playful. Or else I'm just imagining that.

Serve supper. Pray, eat. Yes, they can have more tater tots once they finish all of the broccoli and chicken. Yes, you may be excused, but please go wash your hands. With soap.

Clear supper dishes, wipe down table. Check mail, look over older son's homework packet. He's gaming the system by doing all of it on Monday night instead of in increments. Make sure he's not behind. Check any other correspondence from either school.

Roam the apartment looking for wayward laundry. Boy sock in between the tines of the broom. Interesting. Boy underpants on a desk. Collect enough clothes for a load. Consider prioritizing by which clothes will need to be used in the next couple of days, but don't have the emotional energy. Horrible thought: Do I have any quarters? Yes--it's a Christmas miracle. Toss the load in the shared laundry machine down the hall.

Break up fight between the boys. Turn on "Wheel of Fortune" to distract kids and learn more about the fascinating English language. Read books with kids. Snuggle, laugh, play with cats. Guess final round of Wheel of Fortune. Keep playing.

Look at time, and give 5-minute warning before bath. Run bathwater (with bubbles). Get kids out of clothes and into tub. Wash dishes while kids are playing in tub. Pick out pajamas for kids. Wash their hair, get them out of tub, dry them off, stuff them into pajamas. Help them brush teeth.

Tuck into bed. Hahahahahahahaha. The older one is easy--a cup of water, a kiss, and he's ready to sleep or else pretend to sleep until I'm gone at which point he reads Sports Illustrated for Kids in his bed quietly, thinking he's fooling me. The younger one is a nightmare of multiple trips for water and peeing, being tucked in the wrong way, needing to tell me "sumfing" a dozen times, and not wanting to go "tooo sweeeeep." Try to stay patient and loving. Triumph by eventually just saying "Goodnight" firmly and walking out of the room, ignoring the wailing. Switch laundry to drier.

Change into elastic-waist pants, althletic socks, and sneakers. Do T-Tapp (BWO+ or SATI). Have TV on in the background while I work on freelance work assignment. Write Ask Moxie post. Drink some water. Fight off urge for cookies. Look at time--crap! 11:30. Do face routine, brush/floss teeth. Put in retainer. Change into pajamas. Look woefully around my room and make mental note to do something about organization on the weekend. Send text to friend who drives a semi and gets lonely on the road. Pray. Fall asleep. Have completely forgotten about dry, wrinkled laundry in the hall.