I have been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for nearly three years. After going back to work between my two pregnancies, I decided to take an extended leave following the birth of my daughter so that I could focus on my children in their early years and allow for a more manageable family agenda. I do work as a yoga teacher and a freelance writer on the side, but those activities are inserted into various slots of “free” time (usually evenings and weekends when Father Miser is around for a game of tag-parenting), rather than during a regular schedule.
In the beginning, parenthood was navigated by sheer survival instincts. I didn’t sleep, someone always needing something from me, I could not go to the bathroom alone, there was barely enough coffee to keep me going, and never enough time. After years of trying to master the balancing act (my children are only 20 months apart), it seems I am getting the hang of it…just in time for things to change.
My older child is now in school full-time, leaving me at home with my youngest who is enrolled in preschool two mornings per week to allow for social integration (and to give mom a break, let’s be clear). I am enjoying more time to myself, but still I am left wanting more. A very wise person once told me that if you are left always wanting more, then you are not getting enough.
To my delight, my daughter is quite independent. But while she loves to entertain herself with make-believe play, I am left to watch and marvel over just how unstimulated I have become. She no longer wants me around every minute. So, I made a big lifestyle choice – I joined a gym!
I never thought I would be that SAHM. You know, the one who meets her friends for lunch every day and goes to the gym while someone else watches her children. I thought that role was reserved for the very rich. However, as with everything, I realized it became a matter of prioritizing my sanity. After reviewing our financial commitments, we decided we could afford this expense until I went back to work. In return, I agreed to forego a few nice-to-haves in exchange. The choice has saved me as a parent and as a wife.
Now I have the opportunity to drop my daughter off at the child-minding playroom while I go to a yoga class, enjoy the pool, or the various equipment throughout the facility. I have one or two hours completely to myself and afterwards, I feel ready to handle anything the day (or my daughter) has to throw at me. If she doesn’t want to nap, no problem! I am no longer feeling desperate for my own space. I have become more patient, more happy and more involved. The best is that my daughter loves the playroom. The other day I came back early thinking it would take her a few visits to adjust to the new surroundings; instead, she literally shouted at me to leave her for longer so I enjoyed a long hot shower and blow-dried my hair – what a luxury!
So while the cost of my membership is nothing to scoff at, my experience at the gym has proven to be priceless. Take care of yourself and you will be better able to take care of others. It’s a shame I didn’t make this connection earlier. I suppose it is better late than never.