What’s Next for Mom? When Your Kids are All in School

As our youngest enters kindergarten, I’ve now entered a new chapter in my own life.

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So, what’s next for this mom? 

For most of my adulthood, I enjoyed a thriving career as a journalist. But, for the past eight years, my primary responsibility has been as a mom. Everything else – my career, my friends, even my dear husband – has taken a subordinate role.

I have been immersed in the moment-to-moment “mommy, Mommy, MOMMY, M-O-M-M-Y!” survival years. I’m pleased to report that our kids know how to say please and thank you. They know how to bathe themselves, clothe themselves, spell their names, make a sandwich and build a car out of LEGOs.

As I hand both of them off to their teachers full time for further academic and life lessons, I wrestle with what I should do next. What follows is my thought process so far in making this decision.

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

My husband provides well for our family and I, too, had worked furiously and saved a fair amount before we decided to have children. More importantly, perhaps, we are sensible with money – saving where we can so that we can splurge when we desire.

All of this has placed me in a fortunate position of being able to choose what I want to do with this upcoming phase of my life.

For those of you working your tails off and annoyed to be reading this, I get it. I do. I’ve worked 80 hours a week and been paid for 40. I’ve worked swing shifts and made little money. I’ve had loans to pay off and had to borrow money from my grandmother to pay for car repairs. I’ve eaten lots of Ramen noodles.

If you fall into the above category, hang in there. I’ll bet I’m older than you. Spend below your means and you’ll be surprised how quickly even a modest income can add up and leave you with more freedom.

But freedom has its own issues. First-world problems, I know.

WHAT’S NEXT?

As I see it, there are two issues: 1) A several-year gap in my resume 2) I have 97,463 interests.

The first seems surmountable with hard work – I have an excellent resume up until the moment one of our kiddos was born a micro-preemie and we decided that the hundreds of doc and specialist appointments were more important than money.

The second is tougher…

Should I go back to daily journalism? Return to substantial freelance writing/editing? Do more volunteering? Try selling some of the glass I paint instead of giving it away? Find meaningful work with a nonprofit whose mission I support?

I like variety. I rarely have been bored for more than 37 seconds. Can I successfully cobble together an interesting mix of interests to make a bit of money, retain some freedom AND help make the world just a tiny bit better place?

Or will my Type A personality ultimately prod me back toward one thing that I can pour my efforts into?

I trust there are moms out there who have navigated this transition skillfully. I need your help. How did you do it? Did you simply return to what you had done pre-kids or did you forge a new path? Why?

FINDING BALANCE

While we’re at it, who out there has mastered that tricky balance among family, work and self?

I think I’ll be a better mom, wife and employee if I can figure out how to recognize and meet my own needs – things like streamlining (read purging) household “stuff,” making time for yoga, friends, a book club, maybe even joining a golf league for the seriously mediocre. (Is there such a thing?)

Life is short. I have a few gray hairs and lots of laugh lines. And more than ever, I want to make sure that every day counts.

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