So after I closed my laptop for the last time on my last day (at approximately 11p - hah), I sat with Brandon on the couch and started fidgeting. After working my whole life for a paycheck - I was worried about how I was going to personally measure my success as a sahm.
The payoff for great mothering comes in small, sporadic moments; when you hear your son say thank you to the waitress without a prompt, when your daughter follows a three step direction, when your kids say sorry and hug each other on their own after a fight. More payoffs will come in the future with good grades, continued manners, and surprises in the form of maturity.
But, I was worried about the everyday, about feeling in my stomach that each singular day was a productive day for me. That I wrote something (anything), that the kids experienced some sort of educational moment, that the house was clean, that dinner was ready, that the animals were cared for, that my husband felt loved, that I made time for myself.
Since I am a planner at heart, I knew that to prevent me finding myself hours later each day submersed in an L&O SVU marathon wondering where the time had gone - I was going to have to come up with a way to track my own productivity to the things that I wanted to be accomplishing each day.
I began the process by looking at things I wanted to accomplish (a) daily, (b) weekly, and (c) monthly/twice monthly. I looked across the variety of categories that I was eager to work on (personal, practical, cleaning, educational, etc). It sort of came together like this: Daily: dishes/dishwasher, kids' 'school,' compost, sweep, etc. Weekly: our laundry, kids' laundry, change sheets, meal plan. Monthly: dry cleaning, file & shred papers, clean the vacuum, upload pictures to Shutterfly, etc.
As an attempt at sanity while I was still working full-time, some of those weekly tasks already fell on a particular weekday - so those were easy to fill in. For example, I was already washing our clothes on Mondays and the kids' clothes on Thursdays. The top five daily tasks were dumped onto my "Daily Five" category that went at the top of every day and then I added in three days a week to make 'Real Breakfast' (ie. not frozen waffles or poptarts) and two days a week making dessert/treat.
I also later added a "Personal five" that is still a lofty "time-for-myself' goal including reading, writing, meditating, washing & moisturizer for my face, and taking care of my cracked heels...I'm still working on each of those daily goals.
The Monthly tasks were sprinkled across the days sporadically - but I intentionally left my weekends pretty free for playtime, parties, traveling or special events.
Since my kids are 3 and under, I labeled each day of the week with a subject (ie. Math, Art, ELA, Spanish, and Science) as a reminder to put together a small, simple activity for the kids. Things like this and this.
Finally, I marked in where I wanted to be writing each weekday (blogs vs. Novel) and then I arrived at this which is hanging on the side of my fridge for easy reference:
Just like our Summer To Do List from last year - my Sahm schedule has been so helpful in keeping a easy-quick reminder that there are always things to be done. Surely other women who are more focused than me can accomplish plenty without having a schedule, but this is what works for me when 4:30p rolls around and I don't feel like doing anything but plopping on the couch with the kids and calling it a day.
And then a few days later it became obvious that there was no loss at all. I could feel emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually - in all ways the gain and the serious business of work that comes with dedicating yourself as a Sahm. For the past three weeks, I have actually been more tired AND more productive than I have been in a very long time. So all of those initial fears and worries have completely melted away about deeming myself successful at staying at home. My contributions to our family's quality of life have fully exceeded my initial concerns.
And this extra time has also offered up an opportunity to be more dedicated to a project we are working on (labeled as "BB" on the schedule) that I hope to share more news about in the upcoming months :)
Leaving my work was very bittersweet as I have made some true friends in my colleagues despite each of us working remotely, scattered across the nation. I was so grateful to our final call on my last day in which my manager allowed time for my coworkers/friends to share a little memory of our time together. It was very touching and so meaningful to me. Such a lucky girl I have been to have had the chance to work with, learn from, and get to know each of you.
And since my boss is the sweetest person on the planet (hi, Stacey!) she then announced to the team that since we couldn't have a proper farewell in a break room with cake, she had sent out surprise cake pops from Shari's Berries in honor of my last day.
It was an emotional roller coaster to leave the world of working mumma (and to leave such amazing coworkers), but I have found myself firmly happy and so grateful to stay at home.
My new bosses are demanding, relentless, and occasionally down-right mean. I get no extra pay for overtime (or any time actually), rarely get recognition for a job well done, and certainly no sick leave or vacation time. But somehow it's been the best job I've had yet, and I imagine someday I'll look back and know that it was the best job I've ever been fortunate enough to have.