On Being a Stay At Home Mom: Let’s Compare Schedules

StationaryThe Working Parent

Monday – Friday

6:00 am: get the coffee on, get ready for work

7:00 am: wake up the kids, get them ready for school

7:45 am: off to work/school/daycare, etc.

8:30 am – 12:30 pm: work

12:30 pm: lunch break–schedule personal appointments, return personal texts and e-mails, eat, walk 2 times a week

1:00 – 5:00 pm: work

5:00 pm: leave work, on the way home pick up the kids from wherever they go after school and stop at the store to get some groceries

6:00 pm: arrive home, get everyone in order (coats hung up, homework sorted out, groceries put away, let the dog out, sort the mail), start dinner

6:30 – 7:30 pm: dinner and clean up

7:30 – 8:30 pm: miscellaneous “family” hour

8:30 pm: kids’ bedtime routine

9:00 pm: kids to bed

9:00 – 10:00 pm: miscellaneous “personal” hour

10:00 pm: parents to bed

Me

Monday – Friday

7:30 am: wake the kids up, get them ready for school, get the coffee on

8:30 am – 3:30 pm: attend to miscellaneous needs of the home, family members, and self

3:30 pm: kids home from school, get snack, everyone in their places, PBS

4:00 pm: miscellaneous “family-ish” time

5:30 pm: dinner preparation

6:00 – 7:00 pm: dinner and clean up

7:00 – 8:00 pm: miscellaneous “family” hour

8:00 pm: kid’s bedtime routine

8:30 pm: kids to bed

* Go to bed whenever, depending on the next day’s activities

 

I often get asked, especially now that both of my kids are in school, “What do you do all day?”  Well, I do all day, what the typical working parent has to squeeze into the few “miscellaneous” hours of each day.  I wake up, nearly every morning, before throwing the covers off and putting my feet on the floor, “Lord, set my day and help me to walk accordingly.”  And then I go about trying to live each day being mindful of who I am, what I have to do, and Who is in charge of it all.  Each day is an unhurried assortment of various tasks–some big, some small; some self-centered, some others-centered; some are work-oriented, some are being-oriented; some even take me outside my home on a weekly basis.  But whatever it is that’s set before me, I try to keep the stuff that “needs to get done” between the hours of 8:30 and 3:30.  After that, I know that the rest belongs to my family; anything that happens after 3:30 is dedicated to their well-being.

Now, this doesn’t mean that while my kids are home, I never check my Facebook page or watch a TV program of my personal choosing or read for pleasure instead of reading with them.  I don’t micromanage my time; I don’t have to.  I have the confidence that everything will have it’s time each day to get the attention it deserves; I don’t have to stress about how and when, and then have to draw from my waning reserves when the people I love most coalesce all at one time, leaving me depleted at day’s end.  My schedule allows me to breathe a lot, if I need to, and to take the time to REALLY BE with my kids when they are home.  My schedule allows me to REALLY FOCUS on what my husband says when he says it because I’m not trying to tie 20 pieces of loose ends together and call it a day because I don’t know if I can handle them being undone going into tomorrow.  When a schedule is packed full, there’s little room for carry over into the next schedule-packed day without a continual snowball effect taking over or feeling like you’re always simply treading water.  I rarely feel snowballed or like I’m simply treading, and if I ever do, I vow to read a novel or watch a movie and paint my toenails sometime the next day while the kids are at school.

How do I know that this is how many working parents feel?  Because I hear the stories.  I feel their stress emanating from their beings and permeating their homes.  I see the effects of it in society at large.  Because I know so much more fully than ever before what peace feels like and what a fluid schedule affords me, I sense the absence of it rather acutely when it is missing.  I don’t, in any way, mean for that to sound judgmental or for such a statement to cause someone to feel guilty or condemned, I mean it as an observation only.  And in a culture where peace isn’t valued and we aren’t applauded for pursuing it, I don’t expect to be really understood on this point, rather I expect to be criticized.

I’m also, in no way, saying that because a parent has a packed schedule and a full-time career, she isn’t present in her own life and that peace isn’t possible.  However, for the working parent, finding the balance and the peace and being truly present and at ease is often more difficult.  There is less margin for error simply because there’s less margin, period.  It’s not impossible–for I truly believe that all things are possible with God–but it’s so much harder to come by.

My prayer is that whatever your schedule is, may we all really evaluate what’s most important to us and adjust our schedules accordingly.  May we all be willing to make the necessary adjustments to keep first things first, and to honor God with everything He’s given us.  Time is a precious commodity, one that we can never get back.  We should take our schedules seriously and maybe even look at them through the lens of eternity.

What does your schedule say about you?

 

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