Let me start by saying, I am a SAHM (stay-at-home mom). Sure, I’m an attorney, but I only do pro bono work. I’m a writer too, obviously, but when people ask, I have to say, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” And when the working moms say I just stay home, I have to swallow hard and bite my tongue. Because this is by far the most exhausting job I’ve ever had.
Recently, my husband and my parents got to see exactly how exhausting it was because of a trip I took. I appreciated the appreciation, but, to be frank, I was still getting burnout. I mean, I know I love staying home with my kids, but it’s also tiring, lonely, and unacknowledged. It’s easy to start to feel worthless after a few hundred days straight of this.
While others have schedules and instructions and tasks and a paycheck, I have to guess how I’m doing, wriggle to stay on track and try to do absolutely everything all the time with no measurable results. I am working 13 hour days, seven days per week with the kids, plus running the household, plus my “side projects.” Sick days? Not a thing. Holidays? Ha. They are even more work.
So to combat the burnout, we came up with an idea.
I would take Saturdays off.
It was my husband’s idea, really, and to begin with, I have to admit I felt way too guilty to do it at first. Never mind my hair was a nightmare and I’d gained weight. I loved taking care of my kids, but by the time I was done, I was too tired to do most things I needed or wanted to do.
Too tired to take care of me, as cliche as it sounds. An hour here and there of help left time for me to run errands or clean or go to the doctor alone, but you have to choose one. I always felt behind.
Even without my kids, I was doing for them. When I went shopping, I got stuff for them. And when I hung out with friends I tried not to talk about them too much. I hated to miss anything they did. So, the prospect of not being with my kids on Saturdays when most people are enjoying family fun was unthinkable…until I thought about it.
See, I’ve read the warning about “enjoying your time with your kids now” and that you only get 936 weekends with your kids. But unlike parents who drop their kids off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon or evening, I spend tons of quality time with my kids every day.
So maybe letting my husband take them to the zoo or museum or park in the morning, out for lunch, then putting them down for a nap wouldn’t be so bad. Honestly, it will be good for them to have time together.
So, I slowly talked myself into it. Or, my husband and support system talked me into it. I mean, I wouldn’t begrudge a mom practicing law full-time or doing 12-hour shifts at the hospital from taking a break for herself, so why was my job un-skip-able?
That first Saturday came around. I slept in while someone else got my children ready.
And it was amazing.
I felt only a little left out as they excitedly headed out on an adventure. I ate breakfast without anyone yelling. I took a bath without anyone coming in the room. I even cleaned without anyone making a mess behind me.
And then I really cut loose.
As my husband sent me adorable pictures of him and the toddlers having fun together, I kicked up my feet without wondering what people would think, put on a show only I like, and – without dozing off during it – did something I wanted to do.
Another Saturday I met up with an old friend for brunch. Another after that, I got my hair cut.
And when the kids came home, they were happy to see me. I had missed them. My husband was crediting me for my daily feats of juggling and patience. Weekdays, our time together was more precious, meltdowns easier to handle with the sleep and the break.
Win, win, win.
Of course, maybe I will change the routine once my kids are older and in school and involved in Saturday activities, but for now, the magic of Saturdays off – despite any judgment I get – is not something I will easily give up.
So, sorry not sorry.
For now, Saturday evenings and Sundays are still for family. We still have the occasional couples night. But every Saturday until about 4 p.m., I am off the clock. Do not ask me where something is. Do not ask me to hold something. In fact, do not ask me anything.
Realistically, not everyone can afford a hotel room one once per month, a big momcation, regular messages, maids or nannies. Maybe, however, we can have Saturdays off.