My sister Christine and I travel to Atlanta once a year to visit our younger (35 years old) sister Claudia - and her husband and three kids (currently 6, 4 and 2).
Christine and I remark that we're not actually going to Atlanta for three days, but to Claudia's Backyard. This is my third year going (and Christine's fifth), and the furthest we have gotten into Atlanta is to Cosco three miles away to buy groceries. The rest of the time, we are playing with the kids - soccer, baseball, pushing them on the swing, drawing on the ground with chalk, playing in the sandbox, and repeat. For three solid days.
Our schedule is usually get up with the kids at 7 am, eat and relax until 9, play in the yard until noon, naps for all until 3, play until 5, eat then baths and bed at 7. We call Claudia Nazi Mama. She has the kids on such a tight schedule, but the kids love the structure.
All three siblings in my generation are very structured. We think it comes from our parents: They never gave us any structure (no rules, no curfews, and so on) growing up. We think we're compensating for it in our adulthood.
When we were growing up, our parents had three rules for us kids:
1. You couldn't smoke in the house unless you had a friend over.
2. You couldn't go out on school nights - unless you were going to the library.
3. You couldn't have the car out overnight.
We never had a curfew, but usually came home at a reasonable hour because all of our friends had curfews.
After the kids are asleep at 7, the three of us (plus Claudia's husband if he is home from work) retire to the back porch for wine and conversation. All three nights (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), we stayed up way too late for a morning that we had to face those kids.
But us adults were having such fun. Because Claudia lives in Atlanta and Christine and I live in New Orleans, we rarely have the opportunity to sit and catch up. Whenever I talk with Claudia (or Christine), it feels like we are picking up a conversation we just dropped - though it may have been six months prior.
I probably I don't discuss my sisters enough here (especially Claudia), but they're very important to me. I am very proud of them and, though all three of us are quite different, am glad that our friendships have evolved nicely into adulthood.