When my firstborn started preschool, I remember fantasizing about all the things I’d do with my newfound time and freedom. Then reality set in: factoring in drop-off and pick-up, all my free time amounted to roughly 2 hours, 2 mornings a week. As a fellow mom complained, barely enough time to buy and put away your groceries. I usually frittered the hours away on e-mail and errands.
Now my baby’s started kindergarten and is gone till 2:45pm. An eternity! Of course, I still have my little guy at home with me much of that time, but still – all that time! I could write an entire novel in a week! I could cook 5-course meals nightly! If I had even the slightest interest in writing a novel or cooking a 5-course meal, that is. Which I do not.
But when you’re used to cramming everything into tiny pockets of time here and there, a funny thing happens when you have a large block of time all at once: at first you don’t know what to do with yourself. Yet you mysteriously manage to fill the time without even noticing. Kyran Pittman offers the perfect analogy in her memoir, Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life. (Which I LOVED, BTW. Go read it immediately!) She writes:
“[My 3 boys] each graduated from a couple of days a week to half-days all week, then full days at school all week, and my work, like the contents of my purse, has tended to expand to fill all available pockets of space.”
Exactly. Only in my case, it’s not just work. Typical morning: I sit down at my desk, do some work on my writing class, revise an essay, check e-mail. Then I remember I need to RSVP to a bridal shower invitation. That reminds me I need to buy a gift, so I go online, find the bride’s registry, then get caught up in the clearance section of Bed Bath & Beyond and go off to Google free shipping codes. Then I remember that my children need something to wear to the wedding, which sets me off on another Google tangent.
It’s not that I’m procrastinating, exactly, or wasting time on unnecessary things – after all, my sons DO need new clothes unless the happy couple wants Cars T-shirts and Crocs immortalized in their wedding album. But it’s not exactly how I thought I would spend my time, either.
When, as a new mom, I got a sitter a few afternoons a week so I could write, I recall thinking that on a day when I’d turned in all my work, caught up on my invoices, and had a free moment, I would treat myself to some shopping or lunch with a friend. Only that day never came. There’s ALWAYS more to be done, there’s ALWAYS something else on the list.
So I’m not worried about how I’ll spend my time while my kids are away at school. Though I am a little worried about whether that size 4T sport coat will fit.