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.