I have been working days for almost two weeks now and all I can think is, why didn’t we do this sooner? I guess the main reason was money—after having two kids in daycare full-time, the opportunity for me to stay home and spend ZERO DOLLARS on childcare was very appealing. I used to look at couples our age who were going on vacation or buying a new car and I’d ask Chris, “How can they afford that?” And he would tell me, “Because they don’t have kids.” I cringe to think about how much money we spent back then, and how strapped we still were. We are in a better place now financially, but hiring someone to watch the kids, even for two days, meant realigning our budget goals. And it also meant that I had to give myself permission to spend money on something just for me. A choice that in the long run, could make me really happy and could immensely benefit my mental health, but a choice with a cost nonetheless.
When I stay home, I don’t do much for myself during the day. I do things for the house, like clean and pay bills, I do things for the kids, like take them to the park or the library, and I do things for all of us, like cook. I don’t sit down and watch TV (because every time I try, I’m surely interrupted by a tiny voice with a well-meaning request). I don’t get my book out to read, again, because I can’t get into it the way I’d like when there are two small people who need my attention. I occasionally can shower, but it’s one of those fast ones where I don’t wash my hair or shave my legs. So the evenings, after the kids are in bed, have become my sacred time. Time I can watch an hour-length TV show without interruptions, time I can indulge in that heavenly piece of chocolate and not share, time I can stretch out on the couch without worrying I’ll have to get up and fetch someone a snack in a few minutes.
Evenings are also about family dinner, and I’m grateful I can be home and can cook for my family every night. We have been using the time between dinner and bed alternately for chores and game night, which has turned into a huge hit now that the kids are older. But I’m only just now realizing how important my me time is. Working three evenings a week meant I only got four to myself, and usually at least one of those nights I would be too tired to enjoy it and would go to bed early. I’m an introvert (an ISFJ if you’re into that sort of thing), and I’m realizing that (1) I need down time to relax and recharge and (2) it’s OK that I take that needed downtime to relax and recharge. Where before I would feel guilty about it, I now understand that it’s a necessary thing for me, and have let go of the guilt (well, most of it).
I wanted to share this because if you’re thinking of making a change to your schedule that will come at a cost but will help your mental outlook immensely, do it. I’m still sort of in awe of how much better I feel now that I work during the day. And I’m so thankful I made the decision to go for it.