Last night I took my girls swimming at dusk.

I am normally very regimented at bedtime, even in the summer, even on Friday nights.

My girls wake up early no matter what time they go to bed. Natalie, especially, creeps into my office each morning, still cozy from her bed. She climbs into my lap for a hug and I hold her for as long as she will let me. When she squirms away, I look at the clock. It’s almost always before 6.

So I’m strict about bedtime, but last night I desperately needed a break and time to reconnect with the girls.

The days — long. The pace — hectic.

I took a day off on Tuesday to enjoy our first ever amusement park trip as a family. We enjoyed a great day, but the day off meant that I spent the next three days, all day, in my office.

Honestly, it feels off balance for me.

A summer that began with ideal days —work early, breakfast and exercise with girls, work, and a long afternoon break with the girls again— has somehow morphed into a summer of work — a quick breakfast with the girls, then back at my desk until supper time.

I want to discipline myself for more balanced days.

Yet this early stage of business building is intense, and more difficult than I anticipated.

And long work days mean sometimes I have to throw my routines out the window to enjoy a summer evening at dusk, even if it means the girls will be cranky in the morning.

Tell me something! How do you balance the demands of work with time to enjoy family? What routines do you stick to? Which ones do you abandon?