Has it happened to you yet? Just yesterday I dropped both of my girls off in the carpool line, and they skipped happily into school.
As I waited for a safe gap to turn across traffic, I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw two empty car seats. Where just moments before there was happy chatter filling that backseat, now there was silence. Where two smiling faces normally obscured my rear view, now I could see wide and clear out the back SUV window.
After I wiped salty tears from my cheeks (and turned off the lullabies playlist that I still had blaring), I wondered what in the world I’d do with all the silence and all the hours sans kiddos now. Has it happened to you yet?
Here are a few ideas for pulling yourself off the couch and out of your repeat Instagram scroll so that you can use your newfound time in a way that is good for you and your family.
Exercise. Yup, your very valid excuses have ended. You know the ones about not being able to make it to the 5am class because you were up nursing a newborn all night. And not making it to the 9:30 class because it would interrupt your little one’s naptime and your 3 second shower opportunity. And not making it to the 5pm class because you must feed your starving children. Well those excuses have vanished. Hello, all the moms on the midmorning gym schedule! You have arrived. It might be a tough routine to start, but it’s one that will pay in dividends once you’ve made some other mom friends and are feeling great in your fall skinny jeans again.
Volunteer. Just because your kids are at school doesn’t have to mean you never want to see them during the day. And now that they’re back in school, the school likely needs your help with all sorts of things. Pick a day to serve in the school library. Match it with their library schedule. Help in the lunchroom once a week to see who your kid eats with. Organize class parties. Help their teacher with class communication. Talk to your school’s parent teacher organization. They will have many small ways you can fill your time on occasion.
Enjoy. This is hard for me to write because it’s hard for me to practice. I’m working on learning to enjoy the quiet. I’ll probably get more used to it as the empty backseat weeks continue and I have more of an adult time rhythm to their school days. But it is okay to be good with sipping a cup of quiet coffee in your living room, without having to constantly update social media or text a friend or fill your mind. Stillness is good for the soul too.
Connect. Reach out to someone who might need it or who you’ve honestly been too busy to reach out to yet. Write and mail those thank you cards that are overdue. Send your grandma a birthday card now that you have a chance to remember. Invite a new mom to coffee. Go to a women’s study or book club at your local library. Work to develop an adult community during your daytime hours.
You’ll feel better if you’re intentional with your time while your kids are at school. Make a point to put a routine into place for you too. Find some time for yourself, some time for your house chores, and some time for your friends. You’ll get this school-aged kids mom gig down in no time.