I haven’t finished work yet (very soon though!), but I only work three days a week so I was off on Thursday.
I woke up to Eli chattering and climbing on me (he often ends up in our bed at some point in the night at the moment).
The house and kitchen were a bit messy after my three work days (which are always a bit manic) but it was OK as I had lots of time to deal with it, and a little helper who likes to get involved.
I hadn’t planned in or scheduled too much – I’m trying to avoid overscheduling and make a conscious effort to slow down our pace of life at the moment. So instead, we pottered about tidying upstairs and then having breakfast. I had a shower and got Eli dressed. I wasn’t in a rush so I didn’t feel impatient when he dawdled and wanted to do things himself, and it showed – there wasn’t a single tantrum, not even during nappy changing, when I took my time and made him giggle by blowing raspberries on his belly.
Just before 10, we left the house and drove to the library (it is walking distance, but I wanted to shop in the fruit and veg shop after instead of Tesco, and they are too far from one another to walk with a toddler and get back for toddler lunchtime). I parked up the street and let Eli walk down beside me – he’s getting so good at walking holding my hand now and we went at his pace, stopping to point at the roadworks and buses.
After we changed our books, we headed over to do our shopping. My favourite new routine is to park in Lidl then walk down to Roots and Fruits on Great Western Road before going back to get the rest of the shopping in Lidl. It was a sunny day and I was really conscious of how peaceful and calm I felt as we walked – something that doesn’t always happen as a busy working mum (or indeed as a busy stay at home mum). The girl working in Roots and Fruits was charmed by Eli happily taking a munch out of raw broccoli. carrot and peppers as I paid.
While Eli napped after our shared lunch, I cleaned the kitchen, cleaned out the chicken coop, hung out washing, generally tidied up, and sat and read my library book for a while – bliss.
Eli and I played together lots that afternoon, reading all his new library books, playing tickle-chase and he helped me set the table for dinner.
Dave was home a little earlier than normal and we all hung out in garden in the sun for a good bit before dinner. I even got to read a bit more of my book while Dave played with Eli (Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter, if you’re interested).
I had plenty of time to make a healthy dinner, which we ate together (salmon, veg and new potatoes – went down well with all three of us). We could then chill out in the evening after I quickly did the dinner dishes and Dave put Eli to bed.
It was pretty much a perfect day 🙂
Another version of this day
In a parallel universe somewhere, I worked that day. I was on a phased return to full-time hours when I handed in my notice, and would have been up to at least four days a week by now if I hadn’t left.
What would that alternative day have looked like?
I would have been woken by my alarm about 40 minutes before we actually got up (less sleep = grumpy mum!).
One of us would have been rushing about getting Eli ready while the other then drove him to the childminder’s. He would have eaten breakfast and lunch there, while I’d have eaten them at work.
I wouldn’t have gotten home til nearly 6.
One of us would have had to pick Eli up while the other threw together some kind of dinner in a messy kitchen.
After Eli was in bed, one of us would have had to go to Tesco to pick up the shopping, or else we’d have had to make time to do it over the weekend (instead of the family stuff we might otherwise do).
We’d have had to use the rest of the evening to clean the house, clean the chicken run, and the washing would have been hung indoors instead of being dried on the line during the sunny afternoon. Afterwards we’d have crashed out in front of the TV exhausted no doubt.
I don’t think I’d have had time to read any of my book (actually I wouldn’t have had the book at all as I wouldn’t have gone to the library)… and I’m sure we wouldn’t have played in the garden in the sunshine before dinner.
Thursday really drove home to me how lucky I am to be taking some time out of work. To spend time with my son, and to slow down and simplify our lives. And not just me – Dave agreed his evening would have looked very different if I’d been at work.
I’m mindful that not everyone who wants to stay at home has the choice due to finances or other situations. I feel so lucky and grateful that I do, and angry too at the way caring is undervalued in our society (both parenting and other forms of caring).
And of course, not everyone would choose to go down this path, and lots of parents love their jobs and can structure their lives so their weekdays aren’t too hectic. Just because this is right for us doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
But for us, right now – I’m thankful for the reminder that I’ve made the right decision. Not just for Eli, but for all of us.