The kids scatter to bathe. They no longer need help to get clean at the end of the day. I stand at the sink, clean up our last meal. Scrub dishes, stack the last dishes in the dishwasher, wipe the countertops, sweep under the table.
Kids appear with wet, just-brushed hair, clean jammies, smelling faintly of shampoo. Mellow and happy, they gather quiet things, paper and crayons to draw with, legos or small figures to play with.
We all gather in the living room, sitting in our favorite customary spots. My husband finds the current family read-aloud book and with an hour to go before bed, starts in on the next chapter.