Free time! It's coming!

In just a few weeks, Z will be in full day kindergarten and E will be in preschool for three mornings a week. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around all the kid-free time I'm about to have. It is currently a mirage in the distance. One which I fantasize about regularly as it ever so slowly approaches. Oh, all the glorious free time I will have!

In reality, of course, it will be far too easy for me to fill the 9 hours a week of kid-free time. Our house alone could use that attention and then some. Organizing, cleaning, decorating: none of these things come naturally to me and there are a handful of rooms in our home that could use 9 hours a week - EACH - for many months.

I have a list of doctor appointments I've put off making for months or, in some cases, years. Basic self-care seems like a good use of the time, doesn't it?

I want to write more. I don't know what that means yet, but I am thinking of setting aside at least one of the mornings that E's in preschool to find out. Writing is, to be honest, another form of self-care for me, though it often feels selfish, I hope to find a way to make some money at it, too.

In general, I know I want to use the time in a way that benefits both me and my family. I want to do things that will ease the load on all of us when we are together. That is, after all, a major benefit of me not working, one of the biggest gifts that I give my family: nights and weekends are for relaxing, being together, seeing friends, exploring, and sometimes tackling major house projects. I can do the shopping, cleaning, laundry, and general housekeeping on weekdays.

I want to use the time in a way that opens my world up, instead of closes it further. I have relished the closing of focus that comes with a beloved child's birth. I have spend the better portion of the last five years focused so much on the minutiae of what happens inside our little home, my gaze narrowed even further to two faces and two bottoms, that I have barely registered the world at large. I am now ready for a wider horizon.

This clearly means that I need to seriously limit the amount of time that I spend in the house during my kid-free time. I fantasize about really cleaning and organizing our pantry so that it will no longer look like we are preparing - sloppily- for Armageddon. Our garden needs dedicated attention. The closets all need to be rejiggered in a major way. But as much as I dream of all those places being shiny and organized, I know that I desperately need to extend my gaze past my pantry, my garden, my closets.

I want to reach out more into the community. About as often as I fantasize about cleaning out our pantry, I fantasize about walking into the Habitat for Humanity offices around the corner from my house and offering them three hours a week of whatever they deem me capable. Or finding other volunteer opportunities to take me out of my tiny world, if only for a few hours.

I realize I am getting ahead of myself. I think I'll start with a few doctor's appointments and maybe give myself one morning a week to just write for three hours straight and see what happens.

And there is always that pantry.


Ann Wyse said...

Ohh! Exciting! I hope you'll write about your "free time," since, being a couple years away from it myself, I would love to live through yours vicariously!

Yes, even pantry cleaning.

GratefulTwinMom said...

Oh, that is so exciting. I know you will find the exact right mix of time for you and time for those projects. I'm having the exact opposite problem. Trying to eke out some time. Every day it's kind of all about the job or the kids or just keeping the family above water with the laundry, groceries, meals, bills. I love your dreamy writing time. Color me inspired!

Cortney said...

"I have spend the better portion of the last five years focused so much on the minutiae of what happens inside our little home, my gaze narrowed even further to two faces and two bottoms, that I have barely registered the world at large." LOVE THIS! :)

For some reason, I thought it would be better, even wise, to have my kids almost 5 yrs apart. Now my oldest is starting first grade (all day!) but my littlest is only 20 months old. Sigh, preschool is miles away. But I do have to say, it's all relative...having my oldest away all day will feel like a break and my littlest still naps, so yay, free time!

Gina said...

For the past year I've been doing something rather revolutionary - I dropped my hours at work to 20 hours a week so that I work 2, 10 hour days BUT I kept the kids in daycare 3 days a week. Meaning that most Fridays I have all to myself.

It has been awesome and bizarre - I feel like I am getting away with something "wrong". At first I vowed to use the time to write and work on "me". It is a constant battle not to spend the entire day picking up the house and organizing. In the end I probably spend about 50% of my time working on household tasks and the other 50% has been taken up by sleeping in and I got an unpaid internship working for a food-related website. I don't write nearly as much as I would like, but I am very happy to have that day. Having that time to be me (even if it is organizing the house me) has gone a long way towards easing my depression.

I think that no matter how you spend your child-free time, you will be happier for it.

Nik-Nak said...

I would make a list that rivals yours if my kid were off to school and I finally found some free time. But if I were being real about it I'd mark all of that out and write "Sit on sofa, watch reality TV, don't move".

beyond diapers said...


Whimsy said...

This list is awesome and inspiring. Truthfully, I'm a little bit jealous.

Sarah said...

I really admire that it even crossed your mind to volunteer. I used to do that, until Addy got too big to just sit beside my desk in her carseat while I answered phones for a women's shelter. I loved it. And then I realized that as long as I had any kids to care for all day, volunteering (in the day) was kind of out. But it made me feel so much more connected to the "real" world to get outside of that circular loop of family-related thought patterns and shopping lists and to-do lists. I miss that. But lately I haven't even much considered how I could help others because I do get so caught up in everything that seems to need attention just in our own home.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Gina- YES. I remember doing this when I was pregnant with E and working part time. I left Z in daycare past when I "needed" it and just rested. I felt immensely guilty about taking that time for msyelf and yet I so needed it.

I say GOOD FOR YOU for doing it. And I have a feeling that I will be right there with you, fighting the guilt and fighting the urge to spend the whole time cleaning up the house (which will only get deeply UNCLEAN within the first ten minutes of the kids being home!)

Whimsy- I'm jealous of the future me too!!

Sarah- How awesome that you volunteered when Addy was a baby!! I was so insanely preoccupied, I'm not sure I could have imagined doing that. But I'm desperate to reach out and I want to move into the surrounding community in a meaningful way. I just need to figure out what that means!

pamela said...

This hits home for me. I asked for a couple of hours to write this weekend and what did I do? I cleaned. Argh.

I hope you write. You are so good and you will get paid. Well. Enjoy mama!!

Anonymous said...

Am in cleaning closets and drawers frenzy as preparation for writing frenzy once preschool starts. Sometimes one needs to happen before the other can.

Sas said...

Anon said it! Sometimes you just gotta dedicate a few free hours to getting your house in order before you can even think about branching out. Can't begin to write with a messy desk, or pantry... :>

Mama Bub said...

Even having just one of my kids in school has made me feel like my world is a little bigger, I can't imagine the feeling of BOTH kids in school! Enjoy.

Blog Designed by: NW Designs