I realized I haven’t given an update on my stay-at-home mom life. It’s been almost 6 months of not working, which is longer than either of my maternity leaves. So it is officially the longest time I’ve ever had not working. And it feels….like a vacation from life.
When I was a teacher I was constantly looking at the clock. Did I have enough time to fit in one more book before lunch? How many more minutes did we have at recess? Even being a minute late to pick my kids up from PE was holding up the next PE class that was waiting in the hall. I felt like I racing the clock every morning to get the kids ready and out the door by 7:15. And most nights I was also trying to see how many activities I could fit into a few hours before bedtime. We could stop at the park on the way home…but only for 45 minutes. What dinner could be fixed in less than 20 minutes? Each week seemed to go by in a blur because there was never enough time to do all the school stuff, housework, and fun stuff that I wanted to do.
But now I don’t even wear a watch. The girls get up around 7:00 because they hear Dad leave for work. They come in and cuddle in bed with me until we get hungry for breakfast. Before, we only got to have leisurely mornings on the weekends…and now it is Every. Day. It still blows my mind. We can go to the park and spend the whole morning. We can spend forever just watching turtles in the pond because we have no where else to be. We spend the whole weekend having fun and come back late on Sunday because they don’t have anywhere to be on Monday morning. It is a completely different life.
There are no “have-to-do’s” in this life. I look for activities for us to do and I fill our calendar with library story times, puppet shows, trips to the zoo, play dates, and other outings. But they are all “want-to-do.” If someone is cranky or it is cold and rainy and we’d rather stay home, we don’t have to go to library story time. I never had that option with my old job!
One time when my husband was out of town, my youngest got sick and started throwing up about every 20 minutes…from 2:00-4:00am. So there I was trying to calm her, clean up the mess(es), and also type up sub plans for the next day. Every time the kids got sick, it was an ordeal trying to figure out who could take off of work. Now? Who cares! I could stay up all night and just watch movies and nap with the girls the next day. But of course now that they are no longer in daycare, no one gets sick!
This feels like vacation to me, but I’m not exactly lying on a beach soaking up the sun. I mean, I’m still taking care of two kids ages 2 and 4. There is screaming, tears, and cleaning up of bodily functions (I am so ready for potty training to be over!) I lose my patience and get annoyed. But overall? Much easier than my former life. Then I was dealing with 20 kids…plus the 2 at home! Two is always easier than twenty-two, right? I was trying to be an awesome teacher AND spend enough time with my kids AND somehow keep up with the dishes and laundry. Take out the job, and it seems very manageable. I’m no longer tackling 7 loads of laundry on a Saturday because I could never get to it during the week. I’m actually learning to cook because I finally have time to make something. And I have time to read now! Before I only read when I was on vacation. 🙂
I don’t mean to diminish stay-at-home moms and say they have it easy. In fact, when I stayed home with my first daughter on maternity leave, I was more stressed and exhausted than I have ever been in my life. I was very ready to go back to work. At that time I considered teaching 20 kids much easier than dealing with the 1 infant at home! I think it depends on the number of kids you have, their ages and temperaments, your job, plus all the other emotional factors involved in the stay-at-home/working mom decision. Everyone feels differently. And even the same person (me) feels differently about it over time. While I felt it was easier for me to be a working mom a few years ago, I now feel a lot less stressed being a stay-at-home mom.
I’m sure I will go back to teaching in a few years once both girls are in school. I know I will miss it. My first year of teaching, I was so happy. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to have such an amazing job. I loved my students, my co-workers, and my principal. I couldn’t believe they were PAYING me to teach kids and play at recess, when I would do that for FREE! Now that’s how I feel about staying at home with my own kids…because I am doing it for free. 🙂