What does at stay-at-home-mom do when all of her children are in school?
I’ve been asking myself that question a lot recently. This school year is coming to a close, and with the new balanced schedule that my sons’ school has adopted, I am looking at six weeks of having all three of my boys home all day long. But after those six weeks are up…. Then what? Starting in August, I will have a sixth grader, a fourth grader, and a kindergartener. When I was in school, kindergarten was half day. Now, they go all day, every day. So from 7:21 am until 2:22 pm (little longer than that when you figure in the time it takes for the bus to get the boys to and from school), I will be at home alone.
And I don’t know what I will do with my time.
Of course, the easy answer is “write more!” If I can get five, nearly six novels written while I have the kids home with me much of the time, can you imagine how much I can accomplish with all three of them at school all day?
And then there is my husband’s answer, one he hasn’t actually voiced but I have read in his eyes: “Keep the house clean.” Ugh. Seriously? Between you and me, if my choice is to be continually cleaning the house or working at an outside job, I am going job hunting. And with my health issues, the idea of getting a job outside of the home scares me! My mother-in-law, bless her heart, set such a bad example for me here. She was a single stay-at-home-mom throughout my husband’s high school years, and she kept an immaculate house. My most vivid memories of her involve cleaning up even while company was over. “Neat freak” doesn’t seem strong enough to describe her. But I am not like that. Sure, I enjoy having a clean home, but I don’t find great joy in constantly cleaning a house that my four guys will just mess up again quickly. And that I will just mess up again! I am not organized enough to keep the house spotless, and I know it. Not looking forward to doing something that will only set me up for failure.
There are enough areas of my life where I feel like I am failing—I don’t need my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof) to add to that feeling.
So if I don’t want to spend all my time writing (since I know that I will likely turn to computer games when a character gets on my nerves!) or cleaning, just what do I want to do with my time? I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently, and I have come up with three things that I want to do, three organizations that I want to be a part of.
One is the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN.) This is the nation’s leading cancer advocacy group. Through this group, I’ll have the chance to tell the story of how cancer has affected my life to members of government who are responsible for delegating state and federal funds to cancer research. When I first decided to get involved, it had more to do with my mother and her successful battle against the disease (30 years and going strong!) than anything else. Since then, though, I’ve seen how the disease can affect my life in other ways. Namely, my cousin lost her battle with breast cancer. Though she was 15 years older than I am and we were not particularly close, she was the first member of my generation of the family to pass away. Her death hit me harder than even I realized at first. I want to do whatever I can to help one person facing cancer celebrate one more birthday.
I’ve also decided that I want to be more involved in Jackson Storyfest. This is an annual event held in my hometown, celebrating the craft and tradition of oral storytelling. This May, Storyfest celebrated its 25th anniversary. I’ve live in Jackson for all of those 25 years, plus a few more, and though I’d heard of the event, I had never attended. My two oldest sons have, though. They have gone with their schools and each time, have really enjoyed it. It wasn’t until I spoke with one of the storytellers for a freelance gig I’d been assigned that I ever seriously considered going to Storyfest. Once I went to one session, though, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to be a part of putting on this event year after year.
The third thing that I have decided to take up is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, ever since my now 8-year-old son started preschool. I want to head up a Moms In Prayer International group for the school my sons attend. The only thing that has kept me from doing it is that I had another child at home. Not that I haven’t prayed for my children—I do that daily. I just was not able to commit to a group. Now, though, it’s at the top of my mind. Especially as I see some of the things the boys are being faced with and the friends they are choosing. I worry about my kids. There’s nothing wrong with that—I mean, doesn’t every good mom worry about her kids on some level? But I am making the choice to turn that worry over to God. I would love to be able to meet with other moms of Hunt students, so that we can pray together.
So here is my question for you—what did you do with your time when all of your children were in school? What advice would you give to a mom like me, preparing for her first days with no children home all day long?