I just sent my baby off to kindergarten. Now what? For me, I bought the closest equivalent I could to bonbons and decided to spend at least two days relaxing. I’m going to catch up on some shows and just give myself two days to celebrate alone time after nine years of always having a child at home and in my care. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children. I feel absolutely blessed that I’ve been trusted to be their mama, but I’m excited for this next phase of life.
Some might relate. Like me, you may have been eagerly anticipating motherhood but then realized that children start as infants and then toddlers. I always pictured myself as a mom, and I thought I would do a darn good job.
What I realized, however, is that I pictured myself as a mom of kids who were on soccer teams and in piano lessons. I imagined the after school snacks and the engaging game times. Sitting and reading enjoyable chapter books together was also anticipated. For some reason those early years weren’t in my scope of motherhood duties.
I found it hard. I felt like I lost myself when I became a mom. Sometimes I had the mom blues. I loved my kiddos, but I didn’t realize how challenging I would find the journey. I don’t think I quite understood the intensity of being a mom 24/7 – both mentally and physically. I am eagerly await this new stage. A chapter where I can have a bit of time and then welcome the kids into a happy home as I recharged my batteries and got things done throughout the day.
For some of you, you cannot relate to these feelings at all. There was nothing you wanted more to be a mom, and the baby and toddler years were invigorating. You are a lot more selfless than myself and your life has all about your kids. You can’t get enough of this parenting gig. You just dropped your littlest off at school, and it brought more sadness than joy. You might be asking yourself, “Now what?”
I Just Sent my Baby Off to Kindergarten. Now What?
Today’s message is for those who are really struggling as they drop their baby off at kindergarten. There might be a realization that you have been all about the kids. You find yourself floundering to re-discover you without kids around all day.
I hear this same transition happens when people become empty nesters. There’s this sense of loss and a redefining of self that happens. Re-discovering you can be challenging, but I believe the beauty is in both the result and process. I’d love to give you some ideas to make the process less painful.
- Invest in Your Marriage – Having children often leads to more conflict in marriage. There are different parenting styles to navigate. One person often feels like they are doing more and the other isn’t doing enough. Both members of the marriage are now more tired. The kids can begin to take the place of spouse in terms of where you spend your energy and thought life. Many report that date nights (if they even have them anymore) are spent talking about the kids. I would encourage anyone not to let the children take the place of a spouse. I would argue that one of the best things you can do for your kids is invest in your marriage. Find out one of my top tips for improving your marriage here. If you are one of the couples that has let marriage slide, why not use this new found time to invest in your marriage. Write your spouse thoughtful texts during the day. Prepare his favorite meal and make it special with a fancy table setting. Invite him home for noonday…”lunch.” Drop him off his favorite treat at the office. Show your husband that he is a big priority in your thought life.
- Volunteer – Whether you head to the school to help grade papers, make copies, work on fundraisers or become the room mom, there is still a major place for you in your child’s life. Church is another great place to volunteer. They need Bible Study workers, mentor MOPS moms and food bank workers. Maybe you have a new ministry that God has placed on your heart. Not involved in a church? Check out the community where you live for opportunities to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. Your life will never been the same.
- Rest – Our world often keeps us too busy. There is no shame in taking more time to be. It’s healthy for you. There’s a fine balance between becoming lazy and taking some well deserved rest time to pray, read, collect your thoughts or watch a favorite TV show. Spend extra time on your Bible Study, digging in deep into the most important relationship you have.
- Work – Perhaps you might be interested in getting a part time job in your community. Whether you work in a local coffee shop, retail store or pursue something with the degree you obtained, there can be value in finding some work if it breathes life into you and therefore your family. My friend, Alison, has a great post on how you can begin to make money at home, which has great options for the stay at home moms.
- Get Healthy – Break out those yoga pants and hit the streets or the gym. Walking or working with friends is a great way to build into your friendships. I’m not promoting the obsession over body our culture can make into an idol. I’m talking about embracing your body in a healthy way and gaining energy and functionality. Part of getting healthy will include planning and preparing healthier meals. You have time to invest in this now that the kids are all in school for six hours of the day.
- Learn Something New – Have you always wanted to take photography lessons? Do you want to learn to sew? How about learning to play the piano or learning a foreign language? Studying something new helps your brain stay stimulated and promotes growth. Your kids are off gaining new knowledge and skills all day. Why not join them in the pursuit?
- Organize – Having kids around all day means constant messes. We work hard to just stay on top of the basics. I’ve heard that when the kids head off to school you will never have as much time as you imagined. Those hours will slip away easily. However, now is a great time to make small organizational goals. Why not clean out a drawer a day? How about taking care of that closet that seems out of control? It might be time to purge a bit, ridding your house of the stuff that seems to be consuming the place.
Having your kids disappear for half the day does not need to mean that you no longer have an identity. You are still a mom. You are still a wife. You are still YOU. Embrace the time you have and re-charge so you can be an amazing mom when your kids walk through the door in the afternoon.