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Home Alone

As I mentioned earlier, both girls are at
theatre camp every morning this week and amazingly enough it marks
the first time since they’ve been born that I’ve been
home by myself – barring being ill, I suppose.

I’ve already got grand plans for the fall when Cora’s
in pre-kindergarten three days a week: one day of chores and
errands, one day of teaching, and one day available to volunteer in
both schools. I picture having all this time to do my home-work
unfettered: grocery shopping, bill paying, toilet cleaning,
vacuuming, sifting through young-child detritus that’s
accumulated under a bed – the possibilities seem endless. And
as weird and sick as it sounds, I’m looking forward to it; I
don’t heart doing laundry in any big way, but I am truly
anticipating getting all the grunt work done whilst childless, so
my time with the kids can truly be quality time with the kids as
opposed to “time doing errands while dragging children
unhappily after me.”

So I figured this week would be a great
little preview of the fall – a chance for me to try it on for
size and see how well the plan works. I moved all my Pilates
clients from afternoon – usually the girls’ quiet time,
and hence the time-least-likely-to-mind-mommy’s-gone –
to the morning while they were at camp. I made a nice alphabetized
list of the ginormous amount of chores I wanted to accomplish while
the girls were gone, and started attacking it.

The result? I need to set my sights a little lower.

Tuesday, for example, I had two-and-a-half hours at home between
drop-off and pick-up. In that time, I vacuumed upstairs and
downstairs, cleaned three bathrooms, cleaned the kitchen, made two
batches of granola bars, did one load of laundry, prepped dinner,
froze three trays of fresh fruit, shredded three blocks of cheese,
freecycled a couple bags’ worth of junk, and spent half an
hour cleaning out Maddie’s room – getting rid of all
the junk she won’t miss but would weep over if she saw me
carrying it out. By the time I was finished, I had exactly twelve
minutes to eat lunch and do my planned yoga workout.

I compromised, doing eleven minutes of yoga and blending a smoothie
for the car.

I thought I’d feel triumphant and accomplished, and have a
lot of space around me to simply breathe and hang with the girls.
But instead I felt frazzled and exhausted. I still had a great
afternoon with them: they took quiet time while I finished making
dinner, and then we headed to the pool for a fabulous afternoon.
And I definitely got waaaaaay more accomplished than I would have
had they been around. But I realized I’m going to need to
pace myself.

I think part of it stems from the guilt factor: my husband’s
off all day doing a job he’s not overly fond of, with no time
for fifteen-minute workouts or snuggles with the girls, while I
have space to design my own “work” schedule and snuggle
breaks are built in. So I feel the need to push myself hard and
justify my day. Which he hasn’t even asked me to do –
it’s just my stay-at-home-guilt thing.

So I can see that I will keep the same basic outline I’ve
already got for the fall, but lower my expectations a bit. If I
spend Mondays doing chores and errands, perhaps I don’t need
to vacuum the WHOLE house every week, and clean EVERY bathroom
twice weekly. Maybe dusting the knick-knacks can be cut back to
once a month. Maybe I can even count it a day well done if all I do
is, say, the grocery shopping and meal planning, with a swing by
the dry-cleaners. As long as I’ve got enough left in me to be
there – really be there – for my girls, maybe some of
the other stuff is optional.



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