SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.
My mother always used to say to me, “Make sure you find time for yourself, sweetie. It’s so important to take care of yourself, too. Not just the kids.” Being the mature and receptive adult that I am, I would usually roll my eyes at her and say, “Well, yeah. Obviously. I’m fine.”
I was not the kind of mother who took the advice that dictated, “Take a nap when your baby does” or “Always take time to pamper yourself with a bubble bath or manicure.” Screw that, I always thought. I have plenty of time to do what I need to take care of my children and take care of myself. No problem. I was so smug and certain that other parents just didn’t schedule their time correctly, that other parents just weren’t as efficient as I was. To sum up, I was an ass.
This is a little bit what my schedule looked like when I was a SAHM:
7:00 – Both boys jump on my bed around now, like warm puppies who want to play. In this case, though, these warm puppies just want breakfast.
7:30 – Walk the actual warm puppy. Question the intelligence of having a dog in New York City. Look at how excited the dog gets at every skittering squirrel, stray leaf, and errant plastic bag that we come across. Realize that I love the dog even though she’s somewhat simple.
8:30 – Walk kids to school. Stop and chat with other parents as we all head back home.
9:00 – Yoga. Feel amazing after.
10:30 – Take a shower, have coffee, answer emails.
12:00 – Think about what I want for lunch. Make lunch.
1:00 – Read the current issue of The New Yorker.
3:00 – Pick up kids from school, drop one off at piano, start homework with the other.
6:00 – Make dinner. Every food group is represented.
9:00 – Put kids to bed. Spend the rest of the night doing whatever I feel like. Really. Frequently this involved watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix. So, basically heaven.
With a schedule like that, it’s no wonder that I never felt like I needed a break. I had a break built into my day. And even on the days when I was doing freelance work, I almost always managed to fit it in while they were in school. So, I wasn’t really prepared for what my working mom schedule would become.
This is my schedule now:
7:00 – Both boys jump on my bed around now, like warm puppies who want to play. In this case, though, these warm puppies just want breakfast. Instead of getting up to make them eggs or pancakes, I remind them that there is fruit and frozen waffles and that they know how to work the toaster.
7:30 – Walk the actual warm puppy. Question the intelligence of having a dog in New York City. Mentally calculate how much a dog walker costs. Stop calculating because it’s too depressing. Pick up poop.
8:30 – Walk kids to school. Have no time to stop and chat with anyone because I have to rush home and change into work clothes.
9:00 – Contemplate a quick shower. Instead spray my head with dry shampoo. Realize too late that I’ve used too much dry shampoo. My hair looks like a powdered wig. Try furiously to brush it out. Put on clothes that I can’t remember if I wore the day before or not.
10:00 – In the office. Work. I love work. But it’s work. Stay relatively glued to my chair for most of the day. Butt cramps ensue.
3:30 – Realize I haven’t eaten anything all day. The sugar in my coffee does not count. But I’m leaving work in less than two hours, so I don’t want to spend 30 minutes getting lunch now.
4:45 – Worry that everyone in my office can hear my stomach growling. Put in earphones so that at least I can’t hear it growling.
6:00 – Pick up kids and head home.
6:45 – Consider getting dinner delivered but realize guiltily that I’ve done that three of the last seven nights. Make them macaroni and cheese. For the second time in seven nights.
10:00 – Kids go to bed. I sprawl on couch, eye the twelve-issue-high stack of New Yorkers on the floor. Laugh/cry. Fall asleep on the couch.
12:00 – Wake up so that I can take off my shoes and take out my contacts. Crawl into bed so that I can start again tomorrow.
So, yeah. There’s a big difference in those schedules. And I’m not saying that being a SAHM means yoga and relaxation for everyone—especially not if you have a child who is too young for school. But I am saying that I have no time to eat some days. And so the advice of my mother has never seemed more wise. Now I take whatever chance I can get to squeeze in a little nap or a little me time because, when I really stop to look at my schedule, I almost never have that time. And there’s no solution to it that I can see really, not the way things currently are in my life. So, I sprint the week in a kind of mad dash only to better appreciate my weekends, which look a little something like this:
7:00 – Kids wake up. I let them pile in my bed with books and I sleep a little more.
8:00 – Walk the dog.
8:30 – Make a big breakfast for everyone.
9:00 – Rest.
12:00 – Rest.
6:00 – Rest.
10:00 – Bed time.
It’s a new kind of heaven.