“What are you going to do with all the extra free time?” This is the first question most people asked me when I told them that my only child would be attending preschool this fall. She started at the school 2 days a week for 3 hours each day. If someone told me 3 years ago that I would get an additional 6 hours added to my week, I would’ve began to imagine taking a new class at the gym, reading a book at Starbucks with my latte, making it to happy hour with friends and perhaps throwing in a spa pedicure. Those 6 hours would be spent on “Me Time”. However, ever since my life has been taken over by a spunky little 3 year old girl, the vision of those hours has drastically changed.
Let’s be realistic. After the roundtrip drop off, the shower I didn’t get to take because I was frantically trying to get my baby fed AND dressed AND in the car ON TIME, getting changed, the short walk for my 2 energetic dogs and the inclusion of time to get to the school for pick up ON TIME, we are looking at about an hour and a half of “free time”.
Yes, an hour and a half gained is still WONDERFUL. However, visions of getting lost in a book at Starbucks begin to fade away when I look around my house. It hasn’t seen a vacuum in more time than I’d like to admit since I opted to finger paint or Mickey Mousekercize with my little girl instead. While its no trip to the nail salon for spa pedi, my tired feet get a break since I get to sit down and finally fold the massive pile of (now wrinkled) laundry that has been sitting in the basket for a week. Some days I’ll hurriedly run a few errands, which I guess seems like taking a new cardio class…..
Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying the “toddler free” time I have gained with our new schedule. I get a lot of the housework done that has been neglected due to play dates and Tagalog lessons and messy crafts. I get to work on my Zumba choreography without a mini shadow dancing with me and stealing all my concentration. I’ve even gotten to grab that latte with some friends on occasion. However, “all that extra free time” isn’t the excess of time many who have asked me might’ve thought. I’m not sure if those who asked had ideas of me filling my time binge watching Netflix or hitting up The Mall at Short Hills. But, they have asked me if I considered teaching another fitness class or taking on some part-time work or spending time on a hobby or two. It is misconception that a SAHM (stay at home mom) will just be kicking her feet up and relaxing the whole time in a child-free house. Perhaps spending all those hours on “Me Time”. To me, the so-called free time balances out with the considerably longer time it takes to run simple errands with a child in tow. To me, the extra time means less time dragging my girl to store and more time doing something she actually wants to do. It means less “give mommy a minute”s and more role playing in the land of princesses and pirates.
So all that extra free time? New hobbies or another teaching gig? Nah. Starbucks dates and mall outings? Hopefully sometimes. Catching up on life’s necessary evils? Ugh, yes.
For the most part, I spend the time as a woman in the balancing act of life. A mom….finding her ever evolving new groove.