It’s the week that some moms pine for and the one that others dread – the week when their “baby” is finally school-aged and heads off to kindergarten, leaving the house empty for 6+ hours each day.
My feelings about the situation were mixed; I’m a summer mom and the advent of fall always makes me a bit sad. I love all the things related to summer and all the time I spend with my kids. And the idea of my “baby” officially becoming a “big girl” made me a little wistful.
Okay, a lot wistful.
But at the same time, I was worn out. Worn out from the busy schedule, the activities, and the elusive balancing act I have to do between family and work that makes me feel like I’m doing none of it to the best of my ability.
By the time school was set to begin, I was ready for a real routine again. And I was pretty excited that having no kids at home would make it possible to get all my work done while they were at school, giving me the ability focus solely on family in the evenings – completely undistracted.
Well, you can guess how that went. You know…the best-laid plans…
I’d made a schedule. A spreadsheet. Planned out a way to fit in work, cleaning, exercise, cooking, and finally start carving out time for volunteering. On the Sunday before the work week I made a day-by-day to-do list to plan out my week.
Here’s how it went.
Monday: Up at 5:30; I like to squeeze in two hours of work before my kids get up. At 7:30 I woke them, supervised them as they got themselves ready for school, and walked them to the bus. Waved goodbye like a maniac as my baby left for her first day of kindergarten, and then (of course) drove to the school to make sure that she got there. (Actually, it was to attend the “Kindergarten Parent’s Coffee” but whatever.) More maniacal waving. I’d hoped to go to the gym but was out of time so I got in a quick workout in the garage, then off to the dentist. That’s right, other women celebrate their freedom with coffee and a mani-pedi. I scheduled a dentist appointment. The rest of the day was spent trying to knock out my work to-dos with much slower progress than I’d hoped. By the time my kids came home I was frazzled and felt completely behind.
I looked around and thought – If my husband had any preconceived notions that having kids in school full-time meant our house would be tidy, he was sorely mistaken.
Clearly I overestimated my productivity level without kids in the home.
Tuesday: Up at 5:30; kids up at 7:30. After getting the kids off to school I went to the gym and then came home to get some serious work done. But again, things were taking waaaaaaay longer than I’d anticipated and since I never got Monday’s to-do list done, I felt behind all day. Finally, in the afternoon, I gave up and decided to tackle the housework. With a clean kitchen, tidy living room, and sparkling bathrooms I felt much less frazzled and like things were maybe under control.
Wednesday: Worked from 5:30-7:30. After the kids went to school I spent the morning volunteering for a project I’d signed up for. Returning home I felt like things were in good shape since the house was clean and uncluttered, and I knocked out my to-do list with ease. I did have to work for about an hour after the kids got home, but I started to feel like I got in the groove.
Thursday: Morning work. Kids to school. I went to the gym for an hour, and then ran errands related to the volunteer project. I went back to work in the afternoon and wrapped things up a little bit after the kids came home.
Friday: Same morning routine, and then worked again until 10. I finished up my “work week” by that time, which gave me the rest of the day to spend on the volunteer project and other errands.
Evenings looked similar every night. Cooking. Dinner. Clean-up. Supervise kids packing lunches. Kids in bed at 8 and 8:30. Housework for an hour, and then me in bed by 9:30.
Overall I was astounded by how quickly the days flew by, how exhausted I was every night, and how hard it was to get things done despite the fact that I was busy every minute of every day. By the end of the week I felt like I was in a groove, but I can tell it’s going to take some time to get a better grasp on what a realistic amount of work is for each day.
Before the year started I’d had visions of volunteering and housework and all the things. But after my first week of logging 30+ hours of work plus everything else, I can tell how easy it could be to over-commit and have things get a little crazy.
Which I’m not unfamiliar with as I have plenty of experience working full-time with a commute, but one of the reasons I quit my traditional job is that we wanted a little slower pace.
Being at home gives you this illusion of time that makes you feel like your capacity is endless. I’ll have to learn that it’s not. I had fears that I’d run out of things to do once the kids were gone, and that I’d have tons of time to do both the things that I wanted along with the things that I needed.
Turns out this new season is amazing but it still has a learning curve.
What do your days look like when the kids are at school?
Read more of Kristina’s contributions to allmomdoes here.