Having worked full-time for most of my life, I have been fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom for five full years now. I have had some “side-gigs” through the years, but for the most part, the main portion of my life has been taking care of my family.
It was a huge transition five years ago, when I left my job. I had worked there for almost ten years. Next to my family, that job was my life and while I had tried to mix in other things, I had a difficult time balancing it all.
My husband agreed to take a leap of faith with me and try out being a single income family so I could be home with my then one-year-old little guy, and my two girls each day. It was scary at first on multiple levels-financial, emotional, physical. How would I spend my days? How could I take care of three kids by myself? I had several nannies through the years and must admit there were definitely days I was very happy to leave the house and go to work. But now, five years later, I could not imagine doing things any differently.
When I am asked by people, “What do you do all day”? I tend to quickly blurt out, “eat bon-bons and watch soap operas, of course”. But clearly, this is not the case. At least not my case. So what do I do?
First thing I do when I have some free time most days is exercise. Head to the gym, go for a run, ride my bike, play tennis-do something physical and active. Take a little time to take care of myself so I can have the energy and patience to take better care of my family.
The second thing I do is chores. Dishes, laundry-every day. Yes, EVERY DAY! Between the five of us, we go through a lot of clothes. Then there are the household chores. To save money, we started cleaning our own house. I know, I was slightly horrified too, and I do hate it but it needs to be done and I try to divide up those chores and do a little bit every day. Shopping is another complete time suck. With all of our food allergies, intolerances and my limited diet, I shop regularly at three different grocery stores. Then there are the additional outings to Walgreens, Costco, for birthday presents, clothes, special project supplies, who knows? But there’s always something that someone needs.
Scheduling is also huge. Coordinating weekly schedules, carpools, activities, playdates, throwing in some adult planning for a night out or dinner takes a fair amount of time. Driving is also a massive chunk of most of my days. Driving to and from school, carpools to Hebrew and Sunday School, swim practice, tennis lessons, friends houses-it's a lot of time hanging in the car.
Cooking would wrap up my list of daily to-do’s. I cook dinner typically five or six nights a week. With our food issues, almost everything has to be made from scratch. Most days I really enjoy this part of my day, but trying to keep meals interesting, tasty and healthy becomes a challenge. Making everything from scratch also takes a lot of time. A simple dinner could easily take me an hour to put together.
When I get the chance, I do try to meet a friend for lunch or coffee. And if I have had a really productive week, I might even sit down on the couch and read a book for 15 minutes.
Last but not least, I do genuinely enjoy hanging out with my kids. I will help them with homework, special projects, puzzles, books, or just talk. Usually the best part of the day.
But no bon-bons or soap operas. I mean, who has time?