Today is my freedom day. As of today I have one child in school all day, another child in daycare three days a week and 18 hours to myself every week. For a work-at-home mom, this is pure, unbridled luxury. Just imagine it – 18! Hours! No! Interruptions!
I have been eagerly anticipating this day for quite some time. I love my children, and I really love the flexibility that working from home brings me, but the truth is that kids and work don’t go together all that well. When you’re trying to take care of your kids and work at the same time, someone is always getting short-changed. In fact, I would take that one step further and say that everyone is getting short-changed – your clients, your kids and most of all yourself. It’s just not possible to complete a task that requires real concentration and attend to your children at the same time.
For the longest time I have been compensating for my lack of consistent childcare by staying up late at night. It’s far from ideal. When I stay up late at night working I don’t get any downtime, I don’t get enough sleep and I’m kind of unpleasant to be around. I had few other options, though, especially since I’m not willing to park my kids in front of the TV for four or five or seven hours a day. So I put my head down and pulled through. It’s what parents do, right? We accomplish whatever we can in, around and in spite of our families, and we understand that compromises will need to be made.
Now my freedom day has arrived, and things are about to change. I am about to have much more space to work in. It’s not a lot of space, exactly, but it’s more than I’ve had since I last worked outside of the home more than three years ago. I feel almost giddy, and I have a near-irresistible urge to fill up the space with stuff. I want to take a class, go for coffee with friends and business contacts, re-organize the play room and work in my garden. I want to sew and knit and bake and can. All of this time is calling out to me.
I am fighting my urge to fill my new-found space. I know that 18 hours a week to work in is really not all that much. I also know that, all too often, I will lose work time to sick kids and professional development days and holidays. This time is precious, and I need to guard against squandering it. I also need to guard against over-committing myself in my excitement. So, as I celebrate my freedom day, my plans are very limited. I don’t know yet how much I will actually accomplish. I don’t know yet exactly what I will do with it. But I can tell you that the possibilities are terribly exciting to me.
Just imagine it. 18 hours. My freedom day is here!
Do you have time to yourself while your kids are at school or in childcare? How do you use it? Does it go faster than you expected, or are you able to cram a lot in? I’d love to hear all about it!