Thursday, November 18, 2010

School Days for Moms

So yesterday something occurred to me. I realized that, no matter how much "free" time you have with both your kids in school--and for me, that's only two hours, three mornings a week, soon to be reduced to two times a week when I start volunteering at Julia's school on one of those mornings--you will always, always be jam-packed busy for every minute of it.

I don't know about you, but back before my children were old enough to attend nursery school and first grade, I fuzzily envisioned kids-in-school hours as somewhat busy but not a nonstop race to get things done. I mean, when did I get all this done before my kids went to school? Maybe there's more to do now. After all, prior to this year I was not writing an entire nonfiction book (almost done, you all! ALMOST DONE!) and working part-time from home as a freelance writer. There weren't as many school forms and events and fundraisers. Our social circle was somewhat smaller--it expands each year, as kids get more deeply settled into school life, which isn't a bad thing, of course.

As it stands, half the time I end up using preschool mornings to bake muffins for hostess gifts and playdates and school lunchboxes, do laundry, fill out the school book orders and fundraising forms, pick up milk and bread and bananas, roast pie pumpkins and squash from our CSA farm, return phone calls, go to the doctor or dentist, put gas in the car, return library books, buy birthday and Christmas presents, plan dinner, go to Target, clean the garage, cut down the flowerbeds for the winter. About one morning per week I get a chunk of book-writing done. Another hour might be successfully used for freelance writing. VERY occasionally (like once so far this school year) I might scrap everything and gab on the phone to a long-distance friend I rarely get to talk to. But usually I leave to pick Genevieve up from school and think, "Hmmm. There went an entire preschool morning and my to-do list is still a mile long!" And usually I end up sitting on the sofa after the children go to bed, computer on my lap, pounding out my three-per-day freelance pieces, one an hour, until my own bedtime. And reminding myself to find time to work on the book, somehow, somewhere.

I'm not complaining. It's just that I'm a little surprised. Maybe it's different when both your kids are in school for the entire day. I've heard "yes" from some people, and "no" from others. Some say you lose your job in some ways, and wonder what to do all day; some say you'd be amazed at how fast those school hours go and how easily they can be filled with the tasks of family management (let alone a part-time work-at-home job).

How do you spend your days? Are your babes in school yet? And if so, do you ever have time to sit down with a cup of coffee and a magazine? Would you feel guilty about doing so if you did?


Joanna said...

Well, I'm actually dreading the days of school to come for my little girls. It means at the very least they will need to be dressed and fed and ready to go, and ideally I would be to, at a certain time everyday. I'm not ready for that yet. Goodbye half the day in jammies, letting them sleep in (on the rare occaision when they actually do), and hello stress about getting them where they need to go on a regular basis. I spend my days watching my two-year-old and 10-month-old, and my early mornings and late, late nights working from home.

Rita Arens said...

Congrats on your book. I still need to cut down my flowerbeds. They are outside with the leaves. Eek.

Rita said...

I sit for an hour each afternoon while Paige naps. That's usually when I blog, or I'll eat my lunch in the quiet, or I'll talk on the phone. But I always SIT.

I've been wondering what I'll do when the baby stops napping. Hmmmm.

And when she goes to school? Well, I dream of sitting for hours on end. But, somehow I don't think that'll happen.

Shan said...

Oh, don't get me wrong ladies: Joanna, it IS dreadful ;) transitioning from pre-preschool to school! Oh my goodness, the busy-ness that ensues once the kids are in school (even preschool) and you have to get everyone up and out the door early in the a.m.....your whole life changes. And Rita A., thank you for your congrats, but I have explain, since you are a published author (!!!!) that I do NOT have a book contract or anything. I just wrote a book that I've been meaning to write for 3-5 years. In 2011, I try to find a publisher. And I KNOW what agony that has been for you. But you are my inspiration! (One of them, I mean!)

Donna said...

I realized that, no matter how much "free" time you have [snip] you will always, always be jam-packed busy for every minute of it."

AMEN! And WTF? Seriously.