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I remember clearly being asked when my eldest started pre-school, "what are you going to do with all your free time?" At that point I still had a toddler under foot so really, what free time? Same question arose when the eldest went to kindergarten. The 2 yo went to pre-school from 9-12 and the newly minted Kindergartener from 11:15 to 3. The drive to one school from the other, twenty-two minutes in the Batmobile. Finally the youngest started kindergarten, he too went at 11:15 which meant his brother was an 8-3 guy and he was an 11-3 guy. I actually, for a moment, thought "free time" was within my grasp. It seemed a possability until I was drafted to work in the classroom for Stretch two mornings a week with Shorty in tow for writer's workshop. Of course I also did one afternoon in Shorty's class for language arts. Wednesday was a minimum day, everyone went at 8. That coincided with the year I became the box top queen so morning assembly was on my agenda. It was also a popular day for teachers to plan an activity that required parent assistance. Living in a working class neighborhood I became one of the few SAHM's after Shorty entered 1st grade. There was a small cadre of women who became my network and helped keep me sane.We'd hope for the same classroom placements so one could take point in one classroom while the other took point in a different class. We knew if we called in a panic because someone was ill for a party or field trip that the other mom in question, "would make it work."

Regardless of my PTA or community projects,  I was constantly asked about spending my hours of "free time." Invariably, I answered with , "laundry, cleaning, gardening, cooking and errands." People always looked at me with a glance suggesting that I really hid out at home watching soap operas and eating bon-bons.

My kids are older now. We've moved to a school with better funding so less classroom time is needed. I have carved out an hour of "me" time to work out 5 days a week. I have to plan for this hour as with my abundance of free time last week, I was stuffing envelopes for a school fundraiser, selling the dreaded cookie dough for LAX, creating an email database for the Spring Gala and answering emails about field trips. I also tracked down a blue Science board, took all the furry kids to the vet(I'm still in recovery from that outing), took two of the furry critters to the groomers, found missing socks, donated the 500 white "friendless" socks to charity and the list goes on. Today, Saturday, I was up at 4:50 am getting Stretch and Shorty ready to catch a bus at 5:30am for a day on the mountain. Shorty, ever the optimist, asked me, "what are you going to do all day when we are gone? You have a whole day of free time!"

Coming from him this is especially funny because his "sea animal" project is due Monday. It's a Harbor seal. He originally talked about making it out of paper and stapling it together, until the 8 foot long handmade sewn WHALE SHARK and six footlong  GREAT WHITE SHARK showed up to class. He realized that this was WAY past a paper project so today I will be tracking down Harbor seal material(as if this is a color?) and possibly a pattern we can adapt to my handy glue gun and limited stitchery capabilities. This is after I pick up uniforms for Stretch's LAX team and drop them off to some other unsuspecting mom. The guinea pig needs a bath, my car needs to be de-furred, the house needs a good clean, the database that was done: needs expanding, my taxes for the business need to be started or finished depending on how the day goes. It's 6:50 am and my free time doesn't sound so free anymore. You can keep the bon-bons, I think some sweat equity will go a long way in clearing my head with the hopes that I will be able to optimize my free time. Now if I could just find my other WHITE running sock! Enjoy your free time!

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Comment by Dvora Koelling on July 19, 2012 at 12:03pm

Thanks for the warning ;) - with a 21 month old in daycare, and another little one on the way, and working a full time job, I'm pretty sure I should just throw that whole search for "free time" out the window. As a mama, there is ALWAYS something to do, isn't there?

I, like yourself, try to just find an hour a day to work out, and am satisfied with that (satisfied, but not THRILLED. I'd LOVE more time to work on art projects, read books, etc...)

I find myself daydreaming about retirement, which is a good 30 years away. I'm pretty sure that at least THEN I will be able to rediscover the true meaning of "free time."

All my best,


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