“Wednesday Evenings” aims to show there is beauty in every family’s evening, even if we need an outsider to see it. Thanks to a continued partnership with Allstate, I am flying lifestyle photographer Raquel Langworthy across the US to document the nighttime routines of 12 families in four different cities.
Rachel and her husband Jorge live in Birmingham, Alabama with four kids—Jorge (10), Alex (8), Eva (6), Isaac (5) and a dog named Rosie.
Rachel is a doula and childbirth educator who has participated in 86 births to date. Jorge is an RFNA for trauma surgery at the local hospital. They have been married for 14 years and always intended to have a big family.
“I love that my kids always have a friend to have an adventure with and have pretty good odds at being close to at least one sibling growing up.”
But Rachel also says she’ll never own her dream ride and has seen some pretty disturbing sights in the bathroom.
“I have gone into the boys room to find they had not been hanging up their towels after their shower, so there were about 12 towels on the floor. They had just been grabbing a new towel each night. I didn’t even know we had that many towels! Also, how can you have that much toothpaste all over a sink?”
Rachel describes their typical evenings as “LOUD, endearing and intentional” and says she tries to use this time as an opportunity to connect with her kids.
“Life can be so busy and monotonous with routine. I try not to just whip through everything quickly. I want to make sure my kids are heard.”
Rachel starts cooking dinner at around 5pm. She lets her kids play outside in the yard during dinner prep or else it’s “constant interruptions to put out squabbles.”
Jorge gets home by 6pm and always gets a warm welcome.
Then he goes inside, changes out of his scrubs and helps with dinner. On this evening, he grilled outside.
Meanwhile, Rachel iced a cake with the the kids’ help in the kitchen. Rachel says she was never a baker until recently when she got a mixer passed down from her late grandmother.
The family always sits together for dinner and Rachel believes starting this when they are young is crucial to quality family time as they get older.
“I was 11 when my mom died and 20 when my daddy died. Our family had a lot of tragedy growing up. I think the family dinner table represents that desire for connection. I have been told that this window is golden (the ages of my kids now) because when they hit teenage years and all have their extracurricular stuff, it’s going to be harder to pull off. I’m hoping to create an opportunity to build those relationships before they scatter to the four winds.”
During dinner, the family has a ritual where they each share something special about their day, but Rachel is quick to note that with so many kids “attempting to create memories can often feel like herding cats.”
Starting dinner conversations at a young age appears to be paying off.
“We started doing this as a way to help our kids know how to engage each other, and others they meet, in conversation around a meal. As they’ve gotten older, they each want to share more than just one favorite part. The conversation is growing.”
After dinner, everyone headed out for a walk around the neighborhood, which is something they typically do when the weather is right.
“When it’s summer and the weather is nice, we can go several times a week. It’s harder to pull off during the school year because of the short nights.”
When they got home, it was time for cake. Everyone got some except Isaac, because he neglected to try his veggies.
“The rules are simple: you may decline eating anything, only after you’ve had a ‘no thank you bite.’ Most of the time, the kids are only allowed dessert if they eat all their food, but sometimes I make an exception if they made a good effort to try something new. I’d rather them try it and say ‘no thank you’ than decide they hate it before even taking a bite.”
After cake, Rachel oversees showers “and tantrums” while Jorge clears the table and cleans up.
The kids wash up themselves, taking turns in two bathrooms.
“It’s hard to believe I’m in the season of life where my kids can brush their own teeth and bathe themselves (except the five-year-old who still needs help with his shower). But I’m not always good with details, and sometimes I forget they still need me to inspect their attempts.”
Then they all pile on Mom and Dad’s bed to watch YouTube videos on TV.
After TV time, the family says their goodnight prayers all together, which is Rachel’s favorite part of the evening.
“We start youngest to oldest and each child’s prayer is unique to their personality. For example, the youngest will thank God for the toy he played with all day. My middle son will pray his siblings stop being mean and leave his Legos alone. And my oldest, who is a genuine sweetheart will pray all the things the rest of us probably should’ve prayed.”
At 9:15 p.m., it’s time for all the kids to disperse into their own beds— the younger two share a room and the older two share a room. There’s usually a lot of back and forth before everybody settles in for the night with lights out.
“I get frustrated with the constant in and out after I’ve put them in bed. People tell me I’m gonna miss that part one day, but I don’t think so.”
Rachel and Jorge stay in bed to watch their latest Netflix binge until the water and bathroom breaks are over. Then they doze off “once silence has taken over the house.”
When I asked Rachel what she thought of the photos, she said “They captured what I was thinking, beautifully. I adored seeing my kids play together.”
She also reflected on the juxtaposition between wanting more time with her kids while also yearning for them go to bed.
“I think moms often live in hindsight. This job is hard and it’s ok to feel the weight of that when you are at the end of the day and ready for bedtime. It’s also ok to have all the feels once they are asleep and remember that tomorrow is a new day.”
She sees this as a common theme throughout everybody’s Wednesday Evening.
“The series is a great reminder how similar we all are, to our core. We all long for our kids to know how much they are loved whether they live in plenty or in want, have both parents or one, big city or small. But bedtime is celebrated no matter the ZIP code!”
This post is part of the “Wednesday Evenings” series sponsored by Allstate. From bath time to bed time, every family has a special evening routine. This series aims to show the beauty in the day winding down. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most—but to guiding families to live the Good Life, every day.