Once upon a time there was a girl who started writing a blog. She enjoyed sharing long diatribes about the antics of her beautiful, rotten, ornery, sarcastic children. Telling stories was fun for her. It was kind of like going out for drinks with your girlfriends only she was the only one who talked. Then one day the girl had a third child. This took some more time away from her little hobby. A few short months later, the girl quit her job. Surely she would have oodles of free time now, she thought.
OMG. WHAT A LIE.
The last post I started was seven months ago and I didn’t even finish it. Oh yeah, I’m the girl. I know that was a tough one to figure out. I’m coming up on a year of wearing the SAHM hat. In many ways, it is much easier for us as a family to have me home. We don’t have to worry so much about back up childcare, sick days, getting to practices on time, who’s going to make dinner and many other things. On the downside, I’ve absorbed the majority of those responsibilities. Not to say my husband is suddenly sitting back and sipping a crown and coke when he gets home. He’s not because I would probably do something to make sure he ended up wearing it.
But here’s the thing, I am an incredibly self-centered person. I like my “me time.” You know, the time when you shut the door and pee by yourself. Or when you drive the car without backseat passengers fighting or asking about death, God or why you are going this way. I like to sit and type an email without someone leaning directly on my right and left arms, commenting on who I’m emailing or what I’m typing. (Also worth noting, teaching your children to read is a mistake.) One would think that once the children were in bed, one would be home free. Another lie. Just the other night I ‘slept’ with M on top of my body and Baby T under my left arm. M and I both wanted to punch each other when we ‘woke up.’Adjusting to the constant presence of my children has been more of an adjustment than I expected. I’m getting there though and so are they. I’m sure I’ll be fully settled by the time they all leave for college and then I will have to learn to appreciate the time to myself again.
Further compounding this adjustment is the presence of other people’s children. I started babysitting part-time to help supplement our income. This plan was fine as an idea. In practice, it is much harder than I expected. The rules of caring for other people’s children are different from caring for your own, as it should be. Not that I want to beat other kids. I don’t. But the way you speak and the patience you must have is much different. It’s harder to get out of the house when you have other children (anyone want to take a trip to the library or zoo with 5 kids? Anyone?) I thought I would be able to also get household chores done while babysitting. This was another lie. The only household chores you get done are cleaning up breakfast, lunch, snacks and the many accidents. And you must do this quickly. You are best to sit at a high vantage point and not attempt to do anything but try to watch five moving objects with your two eyes while correcting language and behavior with your mouth.
So, my advice to anyone considering this way of life: first, make sure you can do it on one salary. Trying to patch together additional income while also being the full-time babysitter for your kids is very hard and your options are somewhat limited, depending on your skill set. Second, try to make sure your budget includes funds that can get you out of the house without your children. For some, this might be as luxurious as a weekend vacation. For people like me, just going to the Target without my children will do. Happy hours and brunches with girlfriends are priceless. My third piece of advice is workout a flexible daily schedule for you and the kids and get out of the house as much as you can. If you aren’t in the house, the kids aren’t wrecking it, and schedules help to provide both you and your kids a rhythm and routine to the day. Fourth, do not call your husband at work unless you have a legitimate reason. As much as you have visions of him surfing the internet and drinking hot coffee, he’s probably/hopefully, actually working. He will love to hear about how many poopy diapers you’ve changed or who sat in timeout the longest when he gets home. However, on exceptionally hard days, you can call and complain, as long as you tell them, “Hey, I need you to listen to me for 5 minutes and then buy me wine on the way home.” They helped to create the little monsters who are giving you gray hair, so they should understand.