February 9, 2015 in Adventures in Parenting
Someone recently asked me what it is I do all day. As a stay-at-home mom, isn’t that the million dollar question? I know I’ve had my fair share of days where I fall into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, the house a mess, piles of laundry undone or unfolded, and no food in the fridge because I’ve been so busy with my kids that I barely had time to go to the bathroom. You can’t “see” time spent with your kids in the same way you can see a freshly folded pile of laundry or a sparkling kitchen sink. Time spent with your kids is invisible, except for those rare moments when a child brings home a good report card, or remembers to hold the door open for someone, or says “I love you, Mom,” without you saying it first.
However, now that my kids are all in school, I will concede that it is fair to wonder what I do when the kids are out of the house. If you don’t count summer break, winter break, mid-winter break, spring break, holidays, teacher in-service days, half days, sick days, and early release Wednesdays, then I have roughly 23 hours a week to do whatever I want…right? Except my “free time” never seems to exist because I’m busy doing these kinds of things instead:
ME TIME: If you think “me” time involves spending a day at the spa or having lunch with my girlfriends, think again. My “me” time involves things like mammograms and other doctor appointments, haircuts, taking in the car to the mechanic, staying on top of emails, scheduling my kids’ doctors appointments, and updating our family calendars so nothing slips through the cracks.
HOUSE TIME: Cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, filling the car up with gas, paying the bills, going to the bank, and scheduling household repairs when something falls apart.
ERRAND TIME: Target for school supplies my kids have to have by tomorrow but have forgotten to tell me about it until today, Sports Authority for new socks, athletic cups, mouth guards, and new shoes because they just discovered the entire sole of their existing shoe has flopped off and they have basketball practice tonight.
VOLUNTEER TIME: If you’ve ever volunteered at your child’s school, then you know that volunteering can take on a life of its own. Even the simplest of jobs requires a trip to the store or time spent at the school, or both. If you step into a leadership role, then you’ve committed to asking yourself, multiple times, why you are working this hard and not getting paid…seriously.
SCHOOL TIME: And then there’s a little thing I like to call my Masters program, where every month I’m required to read 2-3 books and write essays on the various crafts the authors are using, write 25 pages of creative work, and read submissions to our program’s online literary journal to see if they’re worthy of being published. Like parenting, my time spent here is largely invisible. I can spend five hours writing and rewriting three pages, only to scrap them the next day and start all over again from a different angle. It takes time you can’t see to nurture the written word.
And that is what I, as a stay-at-home mom, do while my kids are in school.
(Disclaimer: Every once in awhile, when the stars align, I spend an entire school day on the couch watching daytime TV, even if I’m not sick. I am a mom 24/7. I do not get nights off, and my weekends shuttling kids back and forth to their games, birthday parties, and other activities are no weekends at all. I have to take my time off when I can.)