I had a job before I had kids. When Nicholas was born I quit working to stay home and have not regretted that decision for one nanosecond. Before you have kids you think, oh, I'll just go back to work when the kids are in school but you soon realize that being a mom is a full-time "job" all its own. I'm sorry to put "job" in quotes as if being a stay-at-home mom isn't a legitimate vocation but let's be real. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me "what do you do all day?" my husband could quit working, too. I realize now what I didn't know before I had kids. I'm not willing to sacrifice what I do for my family to go work for someone else.
Between school homework, school events, sports, piano, and just getting a decent meal on the table every night, our time is limited. I'm not sure how I could squeeze another job in there unless something else suffered. Now that Christopher will be in school full-time this year people always ask me "what are you going to do with all of your free time?" What free time?
I volunteer in the classrooms and am involved other in school committees and events to stay informed and get to know the personnel who spend seven hours with my kids every day. If there is an opportunity to get involved I usually raise my hand because I want to say in the loop. I've told my sons that if they ever think about doing something they shouldn't do or saying something they shouldn't say to watch out. I have eyes and ears everywhere so whatever indiscretion they choose I'm liable to find out about it. I have a deal with other parents that we'll watch out for each other's kids. I couldn't be involved at the school if I worked full-time. I couldn't know all that I know about my son's friends if I didn't spend time at the school to decide which friends he should be hanging out with and which ones are potential bad seeds.
If I worked full-time I couldn't get dinner on the table every night and eating dinner as a family is extremely important to me. Between sports and piano schedules I have to start cooking by at least 4:00 so we can eat before the event. I refuse to send my kids off to practice with just a quick snack and then expect them to eat dinner at 8:00. And, we don't eat dinner from a box. I cook all of our meals from scratch. Believe me when I say it takes a lot of time to cook healthy meals for your family. Between planning the menu and shopping, prepping and cooking the food, I feel like all I ever do is think about food.
Once 4:00 rolls around and the kids get off the bus it's non-stop until bed time. If I didn't have time during the day to accomplish everything that I need to do I would have to complete those tasks after work which means something else isn't getting done. Dinner suffers, homework suffers, bedtime reading suffers and the list goes on.
I want to be with my kids in the morning when they get on the bus and waiting for them when they get off. I want to see my kid's eyes light up when I walk in their classroom and I want to hear the pride in their voices when they point to me volunteering at the Fun Run and say, "that's my mom." I want to have time to go to practices, help with homework and read bedtime stories without worrying about what I might need to do at work the next day.
I am forever grateful to my husband who works so hard to provide for his family. He works hard so I can stay home and be the kind of mother I want to be. I have a job and my job is to take care of my family and raise my boys to be responsible, well-mannered, articulate, educated, hard-working members of society. I give credit to working mothers everywhere who can do both, but I'm not one of them.
So, when people ask me "what do you do with all of your free time?" as if being a stay-at-home mom evokes images of soap operas and bon-bons, I won't bore them with my whole litany of to-do's between the hours of 9:00 - 4:00. But I will smile politely and say, "what do you do with yours?"
When they try, and fail, to recall their last moments of free time we can have a good laugh and agree that "free time" is pretty hard to define. For all of us.