November 6, 2015

Why I Still Stay Home


"Why do you still stay home when your kids are older and don't really need you that much any more?"

I'm a public-school mom of one tween and one teen, and I'm sharing my heart on this subject that's so near and dear to it at Her View From Home. Go ahead, mama, and click on over, because this site is worth the cyber-trip. Then if you want to put off your to-do list for awhile longer afterwards, I'd love to have you stop back here for some of the "what" that goes with my "why." 

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"So what do you do all day?"

Stay-at-home-moms* have been fielding this part of the "why do you stay home and what do you do all day while you're there?" double-barreled question for decades now, and writers a lot craftier than I have answered it quite nicely.


(*SAHMs, and we aren't even going to go into how we can put a man on the moon but we can't come up with a clever, catchy, concise phrase or acronym or acrostic or SOMETHING that adequately reflects the status of a woman for whom the care and feeding--literally, but also figuratively, spiritually, emotionally, and other -allys--of her home and family are her primary occupations.)


But things get really tricky when you are a non-homeschooling SAHM of older children. 


Your PTA days are gone. 


Your kids dress themselves and direct themselves and possibly even drive themselves. 


Supposedly, they don't "need you" much anymore.


I do a some work for my husband from home (legal document prep). I write a little (which is to say I put the "free" in "freelance"). I occasionally work as a catering assistant to fund my girls' dance costumes. 


But what, exactly, DO I do all day the rest of the time? If you're like me (a long shot, admittedly, since I am far from being the most normal person you'll ever meet), and you, too, enjoy "day-in-the-life" posts OR if you happen to be wondering how a non-homeschooling SAHM of older kids fills her days, here's a condensed run-down of a typical day. (And please know this: I'm not anti-homeschoolers. I'm not anti-working moms. I'm just not either of them, so this is what I do. Please also know that I'm not intending this as a "look how busy and meaningful my life is!" deal, just a little lighthearted diary.)


4:30 a.m. My husband wakes up early. So I wake up early, too. If anyone else in this house is awake or, you know, breathing heavily, I'm awake. My husband goes back to sleep, but I know I'm done for the night. 

4:45 a.m. Pay bills online. Work up worship team notes for our tech/sound crew at church for this Sunday when I'm filling in for our worship pastor. Do some prep for women's Bible study, which I gratefully facilitate. (See "Seven Lessons From Leading Women's Bible Study," over on The Unabashed Life.)

5:30 a.m. Leap up from the computer and start packing lunches and making breakfast for my girls. I know I should make them do these things themselves. But I'm interested in them getting every minute of sleep they can, so I do it for them. I am A Bad Mother that way. While I'm catering to my spoiled children, I also try to advise my daughter when she asks if she'll be too hot in the outfit she's got on.

6:15 a.m. Review the driving directions I typed up last night for my new-driver daughter so she knows how to get from the career center she attends every morning back to school.

6:30 a.m. Hop around to a few link parties for my blog. Work on some in-progress articles I'm hoping to submit to other parenting sites.

7:00 a.m. Take my younger (tween) daughter to school for her once-a-week reprieve from The Dreaded Bus. On the way, remind her of the rules for taking a math test: check your work; make sure your answer makes sense in terms of the question; if there are 5 steps to solving a problem, don't finish with 4 and forget about the last one, that sort of thing...

7:30 a.m. Get home and put my husband's breakfast together for him. He's an insurance agent/attorney in private, small-town practice. Lots of responsibilities...the buck stops with him, as they say. try to get around some kind of breakfast that's more than a bowl of cereal most mornings. In exchange, if I find, for instance, a bat hanging on the curtain of the window at the top of the stairs, I call him at the office, and he's home in 15 minutes even though the drive takes 20. You've really got to love it when Batman wears a business suit. Breakfast prep for bat removal...it all works out.

7:45 a.m. Start the draft of a blog post. Go back and forth between that and some estate-planning documents my husband has given me to do.

8:15 a.m. Clean the bathrooms and make some beds.

9:00 a.m. Go for my morning walk/interval training/prayer/Scripture memory power combo workout. 

10:00 a.m. Breakfast at the computer while I work on my blog. I always eat a late breakfast because I love eating and I love breakfast, so I always want to get just one more undesirable task done before I reward myself (see 8:15 entry). Yes, I know you're not supposed to reward yourself with food. 

10:30 a.m. Put myself together enough to be able to leave the house in respectable fashion. This is no small effort, BTW.

11:00 a.m. Stop by my teen's school to pick up student work release forms so my girls can student-teach dance at their studio. Pick up a mail-order delivery of what is apparently the last pair of acceptable gym shorts in the known universe, according to my tween. Shop for a birthday gift for my nephew. Also pick up pizza to have on hand while everyone is coming and going all weekend. Yup: I'm that kind of mom. While I'm driving around, I practice a song my older daughter and I are singing in church on Sunday.

12:30 p.m. Come home and make an Oreo Cake to have around this weekend. Yup: I'm that kind of mom, too. I'm also the kind who licks the bowl and beaters and calls it lunch.

1 p.m. Type up band booster meeting minutes. Update our booster Facebook page. Reply to emails.

2 p.m. Take a nap. (Aha! You knew it, didn't you?!) Five hours of sleep most nights isn't cutting it, and I've got a long night ahead of me during which I have to leave the house and pretend to be a semi-normal human being. This is also no small effort.

3:00 p.m. Get ready for The Second Shift, otherwise known as "when my daughters get home from school and I assess who needs emotional rehab and who just needs a snack." 

3:30 p.m. Respond to some lovely comments on my blog. (Read: very obnoxious and unsubtle hint.) Finish up those estate-planning documents for my husband. Reply to a text from the caterer I sometimes work for to tell her I can do the luncheon she needs help with in a few weeks.

4:00 p.m. Feed my marching band daughter her very early dinner and make sure she's got her uber-reed for her clarinet so she can hit the high notes on the National Anthem at tonight's game. Load up rain gear for all. I love wet band-uniform wool.

4:30 p.m. Warm up some pizza for myself and my husband. My younger daughter is eating with her friend. (See 5:30 entry.) I know all this eating-takeout-on-the run sounds terrible. (Really? You STAY HOME and this is the best you can do?!) But I cook real food most nights, and we manage to eat dinner together as a family at least four times a week. Our other favorite band-night standby meal is sloppy joes...here's my go-to recipe

5:30 p.m. Hand my younger daughter off to the mom of her best friend. Said friend used to go to my daughter's school but changed this year. Heartbreaking. (See "emotional rehab," 3:00 entry.) (See also "How to Help Your Hurting Child When Everything Won't Be Okay.") BFF's mom and I are doing all we can to get the girls together as much as possible and keep the friendship going.

6:00 p.m. Go to the marching band field, which the band allows the football team to use during first, second, third, and fourth quarters. Set up snacks for the marching musicians to scarf down after they play their halftime show. I love wet crackers.

7:00 p.m. Listen to the National Anthem. That clarinet high note was SPOT ON. Must've been a good reed.

8:00 p.m. Cheer like crazy for the halftime show.

8:10 p.m. Run like a maniac through the crowd of football fans and young boys aspiring to have football fans toward the band snack table. Feed 80 musicians who eat as if they've never had a meal before in their lives.

10 p.m. Finally get home from the game and get the post-mortem from my daughter on how she thinks the band did. Herd everyone toward bed.

Midnight Five hours of sleep is looking like a distinct possibility again tonight.



So: I am beyond grateful to have even the option of spending my day like this. 

But why do it in the first place? As I mentioned earlier, I'm putting that out there on Her View From Home. Head on over for the "why" part of this post. Please and thank you. And thank you again.


What does a day in your life look like, mama?
Leave a comment or say hello on Facebook and tell me all about it. 
And if you happen to also be a non-homeschooling SAHM of older kids, 
will you let me know that, too? It gets a little lonely around here sometimes.

Gratefully shared at these parties perfect for introverts (which is to say I don't have to leave the house, make actual conversation, or get out of my yoga pants to go them).

52 comments:

  1. It's 9:06 and I've been at work for almost two hours. I hope you are walking/all that other stuff right now, but I wanted to get this response in before 3:30, which is your scheduled response checking time. And I need to make it lovely. First, I didn't know you are a singer-I remember the days of leading worship. Not an easy task! And I remember the days of volunteering all over the place- and I remember doing a lot of that as a single mother, working full time...I often ask myself how I did all that--sorry, that's about me, not you. Anyway, I always love your posts, Elizabeth, but in a way, I think it's sad that you have to explain why. Whatever our role in life is, wherever God places us, it is our business and no one else's. I for one am jealous that you "get" to stay home and I "get" to work, even though my children are very much grown! Isn't it wonderful that your husband can provide for his family and you get to nurture them by being home for them! Isn't it great that you get to make Oreo cakes and be the sounding board for those turbulent emotions, and so much more. I always said that sometimes older kids need a parent to be home more than younger ones. Their needs are different, sometimes more difficult to figure out! Wherever a mom works is her business. We must be careful of casting stones...thanks for sharing your busy day...and your why...with us! (BTW, I was exhausted before 8am reading your schedule).

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    1. Aw, thank you for this tender and thoughtful response, Mary! I am grateful I have the choice to do this work in this season, not knowing what lies ahead--of course. This post was really borne out of several conversations I had with the few other moms I know who have older kids but are not employed. They've said to me, "I feel like I need to get a job. What am I supposed to do with myself all the time?" Anyway, that's the short version. :) I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now...I guess my intent here was to encourage other moms who might be doing it, too, that they are not being lazy or failing to give their kids a good "example." Anyway, much more to be said, but I've got a birthday cake (not Oreo!) to make for my husband right now. Thank you again for taking time to share your heart with me!

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  2. Gosh, it sounds like you've got plenty to keep you busy! My kids are 9 and 12. I work from home as a blogger/freelance writer and help my husband with his business too. I love it, but sometimes I wish I had less on my to-do list. We moms are always looking around us and thinking that others have it easier, but that really isn't true!

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    1. Thank you, Keri! I am cringing a little, though--at myself, NOT you--because I really didn't mean for this to come across as a "look how busy I am" post! Yikes if that's how it reads! Anyway, I am so glad to meet you because it sounds as if we share some similar circumstances. My main point was that mothering--however and whenever you do it--is hard but eternally important work! Thanks for stopping by...blessings on you, busy mama! :)

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  3. I work part-time, can go full-time because my crew is all grown up. I choose not to, because besides killing bats, I do everything you do. And work part-time trading some of your legal stuff for school stuff. I like having flexibility, margins to work with when life's unexpected happens. I like personal time, yup, I'm selfish that way and most of all , I like not rushing through my day because there is too much to do. Like right now, I have today off, and I'm writing you, watching Nick Jr. with my grandchildren, kicking dogs off me and loving every moment. Thankful I can. Lovely days you live Elizabeth.

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    1. "Lovely days you live, Elizabeth." Yes, indeed. And I am grateful for them. Thank you for taking time to stop by, Michelle...blessings on your writing, your grandchildren, and your dogs! :)

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  4. Elizabeth, I also happen to be a "non-homeschooling SAHM of older kids." You most definitely are not alone! I appreciate every word here, especially the part about the Second Shift. :-) I've often thought of the after-school hours as my second shift, too. (By the way, speaking of emotional rehab, this formerly borderline hypoglycemic mama could write an entire book about what happens when extremely energetic children with very high metabolisms try to do math homework of any sort when they need to eat ...) Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. Woo-hoo, Lois...so glad to know that about you! :) Thank you for your affirming words--and you are SPOT on about the connection between eating and homework! :) In general, I feel like "snack coordinator" is a big part of my job description these days..."how long since you've had protein?" and "is there a fruit or vegetable involved with that?" :) Hope your weekend is/was lovely, too!

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  5. I loved this post! It's always so interesting to hear how other moms spend their days. I truly think that taking care of a house, and the people in it, is easily a full-time job and then some, whether those people are tiny or grown or anywhere in between. I also think it's not that our kids need us *less* when they're older, but just differently. Every family needs to figure out an arrangement that works for them, and it sounds like you all have a great balance.

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    1. Jennifer, thank you so much! I value feedback from you so deeply because, well, I think you're amazing! ;) Fine, I'll say it: I am totally in the Jennifer Carson fan club! And I love this: "it's not that our kids need us *less* when they're older, but just differently." Yes, yes, yes. And another trio of yes's to "every family needs to figure out an arrangement that works for them." Exactly. Hope your first fall in your new house is going well...

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    2. Aw, right back atcha, Elizabeth! :) And we are doing great in the new house, thanks. Next step: Wallpaper stripping--ack!

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  6. Oh, goodness, I shared the other one when I saw it pop up on FB, but this one is even more hilarious! Loved the post, but then again, I am like you, so why wouldn't I? {grin} Off to make my pizza dough...

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    1. Lisa, you know, this right: I just want to be like you! :)Hope your pizza night was a success...we're a day off because we took my husband to a Newsboys concert last night as a birthday surprise. No fresh mozzarella for it, but maybe someday...;) Thanks for reading--again!

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  7. Elizabeth you should never have to justify what you do. I am a SAHM as well of 2 teens. I think that these years kids are especially vulnerable. They may not need us physically but they need us emotionally. Now more than ever. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Mary, you are spot-on about the vulnerability and emotional neediness of our older kids. I know many moms meet those needs beautifully after a day of work somewhere else, but my tank isn't that deep. So glad to meet a fellow SAHM of teens! :) Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  8. I love your honesty, Elizabeth. There is no one way to do things, going back to work isn't more holy than staying home. I wish that more women would be encouraging and supportive of each other (as you are!) instead of tearing each other down. I enjoyed reading a day in your life, thanks for a great post!

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    1. Thank you, Hannah! A huge amen to this: "there is no one way to do things, going back to work isn't more holy than staying home." Most moms are just trying to do the same thing: love their kids--love, the action/verb/choice--the best they can! Thanks for taking time to read my little diary! ;)

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  9. Loved this! Your kids will appreciate you being there for them! I'm a SAHM of three littles right now, but even when they are older I still long to just be here with and for them! What a great read! Thank you!

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    1. Aww, thank you, Wendy! I love how you described it: being "here with and for them." Yes...that's it! Enjoy your "littles" and know that you have much to look forward to when they are "not so"! :) Thank you for taking time to stop by!

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  10. Yes, me too! Now that I'm "down" to "only two kids" at home, I get asked all the time . . .
    What fun to get this peek into your day's routine!
    Blessings.

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    1. Woo hoo for me too, Michele! "Only" two kids at home..my goodness, however do you fill all your empty hours? ;) Heehee...thanks for sharing, Michele. Blessings on what I know good and well is your busy day!

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  11. I work-from-home (as a lawyer, 15 hours per week) and have elementary school kids (so I'm volunteering at school all the time). I have a blog that makes our Christmas money each year. I have a medical condition that sucks up at least 5 hours a week and a kid with epilepsy who has doctor's appointments at least once a week.

    My extended family still thinks I have plenty of free time!

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    1. Hello! I'm sorry it took me awhile to reply, but I had to lie down and take a NAP just after reading the synopsis of your schedule! Mercy! And Lord have mercy on those in your life who can somehow think you have any free time, let alone plenty! Thanks so much for using some of the tiny bit you do have to stop by! :)

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  12. I wanted to thank you for posting this! I'm a stay-at-home wife and mom of 14-year-old and 12-year-old daughters who are at school during the day. I'm thankful to know that there are other moms whose kids are "older" yet still stay at home.

    Just like you, I still make my girls' lunches and run them to/from practices and other activities (and give hair/fashion advice when asked! ;) I know that I am blessed to be able to have this choice and am so thankful to have a husband that supports it as well.

    Thanks for sharing your day, which eerily resembles many of mine!!

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    1. Well, Tracey, it has been a gift for my Monday to "meet" you this way. What a blessing to connect with a mom whose life in many ways does sound like it mirrors mine! I've been checking out your sweet site and look forward to following you from now on. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  13. I so very dearly LOVE THIS POST... I feel like we think A LOT a like... :) Thank you oh so very much for sharing it at the Learning From Each Other Party. I will definitely be featuring it at the party this weekend :)
    xoxo
    Amanda

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    1. Well, Amanda, haven't you just made my night?! Thank you SO much! Your words have blessed and encouraged me more than I can tell you. I am so thankful for LFEO..."from each other" is the best way for us mamas to learn. Looking forward to the party already! ;) xoxoxo back at ya!

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  14. I love this! I loved sharing this! I worked from home and it was fun to read through what your day looks like. Thanks so much for sharing this! You go girl! Enjoy every minute of your beautiful family. Time flies and you will cherish every memory. I'm loving this stage with littles running around again. But it's different when they live at home. Blessings!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Deb! You are such an encouragement to me! I am deeply grateful to be able to choose this life for this season. And the other day, when my teenager walked in the house at 3:15 in an emotional funk that I was around to help pull her out of, I was reminded again of why I'm doing this. Thank you again so much for your kind words. Blessings back to you!

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  15. You do important work, and your family is lucky to have you. I'm glad to see others recognize the importance of parenting older children. Though they are more independent than little ones they still need guidance and nurturing.

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    1. Thank you so much! And you are absolutely right: older kids do still need "guidance and nurturing," as you put it so well, and I'm finding it's a weightier kind of need than they had when they were younger. NOT that their needs back then weren't important, but I am thankful I can be around and have something in my tank to give to my girls and their matters of the heart and mind while they're still around to receive it. Thank you for taking time to stop by!

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  16. Thanks for sharing this perspective! I'm a teacher and it's so hard to fit everything into a day. I have a feeling it would be the same if I was staying at home. Hope you get some sleep :)

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    1. Oh my goodness, Kelsie, I admire and respect you so much! I spent a lot of time in my girls' classrooms as a volunteer mom in their younger years, and time after time, I watched what their teachers did and thought, "How do they do it?" And then I thought, "I'm so glad they DO do it!" Thank you for doing that hard but incredibly important job...and thanks for stopping by my little blog! (P.S. The sleep thing is not looking promising now that my teenager has acquired a boyfriend and my mom-worry level has been ratcheted up to previously unscaled heights! ;) )

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  17. I think that it is great that you still stay home. I am a stay at home mom now with younger children. I think it is important.

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    1. Blessings on you with your little (or, at least, littler) ones, Charlene. Yes: it absolutely IS important. I was just telling my husband earlier today how thankful I am that my teen still talks to me about pretty much everything. I told him I thought that practice was born out of all the time we spent together and all the talks we had when she was younger. You are building that foundation now...may God make it strong! Thank you for reading!

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  18. Hey Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm so glad you did because I got to come read this great post!

    I run my blog, design websites full time, cook every meal from scratch, and try to get in a little "me time" now and then... It's a bit harder to do that last one recently.

    I just had my first baby (7 months old now, baby boy <3)... Reading about your day makes me feel good about mine! I feel so busy, but I see now this is the relative calm.

    I was homeschooled and we plan to homeschool as well... Looking forward to the busy though.

    Thank you for the perspective and I will definitely be intentional about enjoying this time even more!

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    1. Aw, thanks for popping over, Victoria! Congratulations on your sweet baby boy! And you ARE so busy...so many needs to meet and so much to figure out. The older years just represent a different kind of busy, but it's all important. I guess what I was trying to say in my post was that the "busy" in the older years still IS important, and I'm thankful I can give my girls the care and attention they still need. Blessings to you with your little one...do enjoy as many moments as you can (but don't feel bad if you don't savor every last one!).

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  19. Oh yes, there is always work at home when your heart is in it! I will be "still staying home" for the rest of my life as well (God willing)... Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. We are glad to have you link up with us :)

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    1. Thank you so much! And thank you for hosting the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I truly believe keeping a home--and nurturing the people in it--is an art and a high calling. May God bless you as you do it in your home...thank you for taking time to stop by!

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  20. Thanks for sharing. I don't have kids so people really question me staying home. I'm not sure why people are so worried what we do all day. ;)

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    1. Oh my word, Lisa...don't even get me started on that! :) I am such a passionate believe in the value of home as a sanctuary--and I, personally, believe that "sanctuary" benefits from a caretaker and nurturer. You are doing what works for you, and I am not the slightest bit worried that you are sitting around doing nothing all day. Usually, when the "what do you do all day" question hangs in the air, I think, "Well, let me see...when I have 5 free minutes, I'll make a list." I'm not sure I found those minutes, but I guess I did make a list! :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting...blessings on you as you nurture your home!

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  21. It sounds like a lovely day to me! I never understand women that say they "get bored" at home. Best wishes!

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    1. You are right, Jendi: these kinds of days are gifts...I just need to choose to look at them that way! And you're right about this, too: "boredom" is not a big issue in my life! ;) Thank you for taking time to drop by...blessings on your non-boring day!

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  22. What a great post, Elizabeth!

    I applaud you on being a mom who is intentionally and profoundly involved in the lives of her kids! Mine are just a little older (both in college), and they still take much of my time. I wouldn't have it any other way!

    Thanks for sharing such an honest and insightful post.

    I found you on Alder Collective today.

    Hope you have a blessed day and get 6-7 hours of sleep tonight!
    Melanie

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  23. LOVED this, Elizabeth! This was my favorite line: "3:00 p.m. Get ready for The Second Shift, otherwise known as "when my daughters get home from school and I assess who needs emotional rehab and who just needs a snack." So so true! I live the band-dance life too, as we figured out at one point. Crazy! Wet crackers indeed! And yes, we just let the football players use the band field too! Sharing!

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Bonnie! Heehee...I rather liked that line, too! ;) And I love all we share in common. It really is rather crazy, in the best sort of way possible. Dance + band moms, unite! :) Thank you for your thoughtful and delightful comment, which made my night. (After I spent it at an honor's band concert for Clarinet Girl and before I get up in the morning to get the dancing daughters out the door to teach preschool tap/ballet! You are a blessing to me, Bonnie. Blessings back TO you!

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  24. I have to tell people that even though my kids are grown with almost grown children..I still stay home. I am even busier now after my husband retired than I was before! We volunteer and go so much I wish I was home more. No matter what age you or your kids are there is always plenty to do at your home or be there for your kids when and if they need anything. I once heard someone say the older your kids get the bigger their problems. Well maybe sometimes but also the more memories and fun we have together!! Why would I ever want to go to work? I mean work away from my home! :) I have plenty always to occupy my time and talents here in our own home. I fully understand how busy, happy and needed you are in our home too. I enjoyed reading your post!! Sarah

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    1. Thank you for sharing all this, Sarah...I LOVE it.You remind me of my parents: they are "retired" but so busy with the things you mention I get tired just listening to their schedule. There is so much good to do both at home and away that would not get done if someone with "free time" wasn't doing it. And, oh the joy set before me of this: "...the more memories and fun we have together." Yes, please! What a lovely perspective...thank you so much for reading and leaving these encouraging thoughts!

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  25. When I take the time (occasionally) to tell my husband "what I did today" as a SAHM, he just looks at me and says, "Well, you are a better person than me!" Love my life.........thanks for sharing a sneak peak into yours.

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    1. Sarah, what a joy and blessing that you are able to say "I love my life"! AND, it sounds as if your husband is a very wise man. ;) Thanks so much for taking time to stop by...blessings on you, fellow SAHM!

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  26. Thanks for sharing this, Elizabeth. I fully intend to remain a SAHM once my kids are in their teen years (though for now I'm still pretty busy changing diapers).
    I agree with others who have said that you shouldn't feel the need to "defend" your choice to remain at home, but it sure is helpful to us other moms to see your schedule and get a preview of how our tasks may change in the coming years.

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    1. Thank you, Shannon! I do remember those diaper days! :) I know different schedules work for different moms, but one thing I know for certain from my own experience is that I have never, ever been "bored" as a SAHM. ;) Blessings on you with your little ones...thanks for taking time to stop by!

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!