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