Our youngest son enters first grade this fall. Our older son will be in third grade. And I'm an at-home mother.
“What are you going to do with yourself, since both boys will be in school full time?” is a question I've heard quite frequently in the past few months. “Are you going to go back to work now?” others have asked.
What indeed am I going to do? I had a little taste of it the last weeks of school when, for various reasons, the afternoon kindergarten class went in the mornings and stayed all day… twice.
After the bus picked the boys up at 7:15 a.m., I took an extra long route home from the bus stop (it's already a half-mile trek to the bus stop, but I like to walk). I managed to do a lot more with both of them gone “all day” (7:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the bus drops them back off).
And, recently, my father-in-law had the boys overnight, Sunday afternoon until Monday evening. I had another taste of my “kid free” day. I'm not sure I liked it, though. I spent the day doing laundry, ironing, running errands, baking, cooking, cleaning. I managed a couple 10-minute reading breaks during the day, but mostly I worked.
I don't want that. I was raised with plenty of time allowed to appreciate leisure. I like to sit outside and read, to listen to the birds sing, the chipmunks squeal, the squirrels chatter. To watch the clouds drift by, the leaves blow in the wind and butterflies flutter. I like to go for long walks outside, around the neighborhood, to ride my bike to “uptown” or to the library. To enjoy a cup of coffee and a cookie or lunch with a friend.
I pray my “kid free” days will have a bit of both: of work, which I actually do enjoy, and of leisure time.
Suspicion, however, is in my mind about the amount of time I will really find myself with. I've already committed to several school-volunteer positions, which will also take some time; I'm already committed to teaching a 4-week drawing class (once a week); I'm already committed as a board member of our community band.
Add to that the housework… the after-school kids-have-homework monitoring… my freelance web design business… and I'm not sure I'll have time to “do” anything else.
Go back to work? Not on your life. I don't have time to do that; our family can't afford it in more ways than financially. For me to work, for the type of job I would have, would require us to put the boys in before and after-school care. That costs money. So does extra maintenance on our car, extra mileage. Work clothes. Less time for laundry, food preparation, homework monitoring, reading with the boys. Less time for family interaction.
So what will I do when the boys are in school “full-time”? A little of this, a little of that and a lot of what I've been doing for the past 7 years. 🙂