Reverting to One Child in the House
When big sibs head to school, they leave an empty nest of sorts
I have been fortunate enough to be home with my children since becoming a mom almost eight years ago. I most definitely can attest to the adage of how the days are long, but the years are short. I had two under 2 and then three under 5 years old, and my days were consumed with caring for and entertaining the three of them all day, every day. I was destined and determined to be a mom and had envisioned sending my oldest off to her first day of kindergarten. But I think that’s as far ahead as I allowed myself to daydream. My daughter excitedly went off to half-day kindergarten, and our lives pretty much went on as normal. I was still very much in the thick of babyhood and the preschool season of life.
Fast forward to my middle child’s heading off to school (full day kindergarten this time), and all of a sudden, I was home with only one child for the first time in five years. Who was going to play with the toddler? I only have to make one tiny lunch and then be able to enjoy some actual quiet while he naps and I have no one else to entertain? A definite change of pace confronted me, and I tried to readjust and remember what I did the first time around when I had only my firstborn at home with me.
The change took some getting used to, and the school-aged kids do come home fairly quickly in the afternoon, which launches us into the crazy constant motion of the afternoon and evening until everyone drops for bedtime. But it is actually lovely. Without interfering sibling arguments all day long (especially coming off of summer break), my days are more peaceful. I can focus my attention on the baby of the family and soak up his littleness, something that so quickly vanished from my big kids as they marched off to school again. I am able to pretend to be the calm, experienced mama at library events and savor the last little kid times of parks, playdates and story times. Our children’s childhoods sail by so rapidly, and I’m grateful to be able to enjoy the last hurrah with my youngest while my older two go to school.
I’m also amazed at how much more I can get accomplished during the day with just one kid to terrorize the house. I’m lucky I’ve had great nappers too, so I cherish that sleepy window of time as I know it will be a thing of the past in just a couple of short years.
I think this sending kids to school business gives us just a little taste of what the empty nest stage is going to be like, similar to the way sleepless nights while we are pregnant somewhat prepares us for sleepless nights with a newborn.
I have been baby-focused for so long and always longing for the next baby in my arms, but lately I’ve finally started to turn my focus on the fun things we will be able to do and the perks of not having a baby to focus our entire schedule around. I no longer need a diaper bag, I don’t really need a stroller, and even my “baby” asks if he can not hold my hand when we walk into stores now.
Identity as a mother has always been an area of interest for me, and it’s fun to dream for myself again in a different way. What do I want to do when all the kids are in school? What goals do I have for myself? Motherhood has been the most amazing journey for which I’ll be forever grateful, but it’s fun to start dreaming about what my next phase will be too.
Fellow moms share what they are looking forward to while only one (or none) is home.
“One-on-one time with the toddler! She hasn’t had all the ‘age appropriate’ stuff that Big Sis has due to watching older sibling classes instead.” Heidi Murray
“A couple hours to myself, to be able to run errands and help out at big kids school on special event days. An occasional nap and lunch dates with my hubby and friends too!” Jennifer Brooks
“Three days a week I will have my mornings to myself. I’m looking forward to running without the stroller and having free time to be creative.” Casey Frasser
“Grocery shopping in record time! Drinking my coffee while it is hot. Having a predictable and steady routine where my baby’s naps aren’t interrupted and having one-on-one time with my youngest!” Lori Tate
“I’m looking forward to the structure. We all do better with structure.” Susan Jenkins
“Having time for yoga and exercise. I slack off in the summer, but getting back to that when they’re in school helps keep me focused.” Toni Carter
Stephanie Loux is the lucky mother to Layla, Mason and Slade and her fur baby, Thor. You can check out more of her writing at LettersFromTheLouxs.blogspot.com.