It’s another year of homework, runny noses and volunteering at school. This is THE moment where I can drop my kids at school and actually exercise for an hour. I have been waiting for this for years. Yet, just as I think I have a new schedule worked out, I am reeled into the volunteer trap (aka volunteering for too many things). This is partly due to the fact that I want to know what is going on with my kids. I also realize our schools need volunteers and I want to help. Much of the time, I sign up because I just feel guilty.
Let me explain. While attending an annual back-to-school meeting, the Head Super Volunteer must have said, “I know it’s very challenging for us working parents'” a MILLION times. Ok. I recognize that her statement is indeed true. The tone by which she continuously shoved her insight down my throat insinuated that I, Stay-at-Home Parent, could make it easier on Over-Worked parent. Stay-at-Home Parent has it easier.
Why had I chosen that ONE day to show up sans makeup, crisp clothing and a shower? I felt like a blemish in an unusually sparkly crowd. A very crisp crowd. good-looking. Lattes. Income makers. And there I was, presenting myself as the stereotype I despised: Bon Bon Mom. I was particularly sensitive, but my irritation with her words stems from my own observations about a lack of support by FEMALES. Working moms often believe they have it so much harder. Home moms often find a way to think they carry the harder burden. Both groups just want to justify that they are taking the best actions when it comes to their children. That they are doing their part. “Mommy guilt” strikes again. What better target than where the grass seems greener?
Now I’m signed up to volunteer on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays…amongst other odds and ends days. When I drop my kids off, I will often walk in behind them to report to duty. Instead of feeling guilty or bitter (well, maybe just a teeny tiny humanly bit), I am going to focus on the fact that I am SO lucky that I get to be so involved with my children and their environments. I will also shower more and purchase some lipstick.
The second thing I did after resigning from my full-time, paying career: clean my home. The first: figuring out how to do it without going nuts.
Kirstie Alley, while gabbing on Oprah, revealed that she is an avid cleaner (as in paid to clean houses in her past). She also announced that mops are a big NO NO. She conveyed this vital information in such a passionate, scrupulous way….I immediately sentenced my own mop to garage time. Let the spiders enjoy it. Instead, I bent down on my hands and knees and scrubbed my wood floors by hand. No fun task, but channeling a little Karate Kid vigor (wax on/wax off!) left me smiling at clean, sparkly floors. This is how I clean now. Every time. After all, Kirstie said this on OPRAH and I do what Oprah says. 😉
My new Dyson came next: the revolutionary cleaning tool that never loses suction! Well, almost never. It is the best purchase I’ve made this year.
Last, but certainly not least…I threw out all 30 cleaners adorning my storage closet. As a busy working mom, these cleaning products helped me feel like I was taking care of my family and home. It does this? That sounds great! Half the time? BINGO! I accumulated one expensive, confusing, disgusting (was that wet paper towel hiding under the Windex bottle since ’96?) cleaning stash.
On a new budget and determined to simplify, I armed myself with just a few major cleaning items: a lemon, vinegar, bleach, baking soda and Clorox wipes (in every bathroom my boys use. ahem.) Cheap and effective. Simple and not as dangerous as most products. (see more information on the bleach controversy and why I think it’s safer than we think here).
These have worked so well for me…I can’t believe I didn’t listen to my grandmother sooner. Why, today’s cleaning challenge to de-maggot, disinfect and de-stink my exterior garbage dumpster would make her smile. I didn’t. Not one bit. But I found that sparkle.
It’s August. My friends are suddenly restless. A new school year approaches. Specifically, the youngest of our broods will join KINDERGARTEN. What is Plan B after ALL of our kids are in school? Do we want to go back to school? Do we want to find work? I admit I have not given it a single thought for two years. Being crazy in love with my life void of salary, I only worry about daily stuff: aka My Plan B. The cleaning, the errands, the pet maintenance, homework monitoring, different school start/stop times, different kid sports start/stop times, playdates, did the garden get watered and what’s for dinner…. that is my tunnel vision. It is blissfully chaotic and more rewarding than ever.
My Plan B has aged like fine wine. I wanted to be happy (no more commute). I wanted to do things that matter to me (no more dropping my kids off at a daycare for 12 hours). I wanted to embrace life (feed my spirit without triple lattes to hold me up) and I wanted to make a positive impact (beginning with a break from soul-sucking job haters). Every morning, I taste a sweeter satisfaction with my life. It doesn’t matter that I’m scrubbing toilets and cleaning up lizard poop. My family is happy with me. I am happy with me. Plan B has worked out very well.
Is it really time to spark Plan C?
I have a vision board. Simply put, I attached pictures of things that made me happy onto a piece of poster paper. How did I envision my life? What feels happy and peaceful? What was important to me? I stared at this board for a full year back in 2009. Then, it fell behind my dresser. Since this Plan C business started tugging at my pant leg, I wrenched it the board back out into civilization. Now, I stand and stare it. Now, it’s my desktop wallpaper. The more I visualize it…the more sense I have about making them apart of my life.
- My Vision Board
You know what? I’m tickled to report that many of these ideas are a part of my life now. Others are planned. Others scare the heck out of me. For now, I’m going to add to it. Stare at it some more. Tackle it again when it feels right. I like living my “now.” I am not restless.
Hey, check out our living “now” over the last week. We made miniature gardens, fixed and ugly problem and enjoyed some treats!