Today has been exactly the kind of day I had hoped I would be able to have when I first started contemplating the whole sorta-SAHM thing again. Now, it's only 1:30 pm as I sit here typing this, so I tread cautiously with my "Mission Accomplished!" declarations. But, so far, so good.
Though my alarm clock's noise at 6:15 am bugs me in comparison to the summer's 7:00 am wake-up calls, it's a helluva lot better than last year's 5:15 am rising. Today I could pester the adolescent to get up and get moving at an appropriate pace while I was still home, instead of dragging him out of bed and then walking out the door for work and hoping for the best. His completed morning checklist was something I could verify while it still mattered, rather than lecturing him about missed items twelve hours after the fact. I even got a hug as he walked out the door to catch his bus, instead of a rushed goodbye on the phone as I sat on a bus en route to work.
The younger two had a leisurely weekday morning, as is our new normal, since their natural wake-up times are a bit earlier than the time they have to walk out the door. No rushed waffle sandwiches wrapped in paper towels and thrust into their hands as we all run out the door before 7:00 am. Breakfast is a social affair, at an actual table, and they chat with each other and with me as I make their lunches after the sun has already risen.
Our morning routine now includes the integration of a few younger children who I have the pleasure of babysitting, and it's so wonderful to watch Red and Pudge act kindly and generously to these little ones. I sometimes feel sad that Pudge will never get the chance to be a big brother, because that dude is awesome with littler kids, so this is a lovely replacement experience. After the "big kids" all load up on the bus, the little ones and I head back for a day that's now fairly routine and follows a predictable pattern similar to what I did with Red and Pudge back in our stay-at-home days. Diaper changes, snack times, floor time, outside time, playground visits, leisurely walks, bubbles and sidewalk chalk- these are my daily experiences again, and the children I get to share them with are seriously all delightful.
And then comes nap time. So far (*fingers crossed for no jinxing*), everyone goes down quietly, calmly, and quickly for nap time, and then I have two hours to devote to my own stuff. The to do list comes out, or I take a little time to read and relax. Today has been perfect in this sense. I got a pork loin into the crock pot midday, and I already have a solid plan for an actual home-cooked dinner. I told the kids that I'd have a special treat for them this afternoon, and I got to prep that shortly after everyone fell asleep. Sure, I might be coming dangerously close to bribing one of my children with food to get him to not throw a fit when it's time to go to school, but at least the rice krispies treats have hidden flaxseed for added fiber. That's gotta count for something, right?
In a couple hours, the little ones will be up, snack-fed again, and back into the arms of their loving and smiley mamas, just as my own not-so-little-anymore ones will be bounding off the bus. The afternoon routine of shedding school uniforms for comfy play clothes will be followed by the enjoyment of the delicious (and fiber-rich!) snack with some fruit, and then we'll have time to play and complete homework before I even have to start thinking about dinner prep. That will begin as the middle schooler comes home from his super-long day (an almost 7.5 hour school day!), when the real homework joy begins. The joy that I get to actually be here for, instead of checking in on the phone and having to deal with the aftermath late into the evening when I would finally get home last year.
This is exactly what I had hoped for, and though I'm feeling the stress of my children's school experiences (well, at least 2/3 of them), our overall home life has a completely different feel right now, and I know that so much of that is dependent on my mental state. This is perhaps one of the best decisions that we've ever made.