Family life

Stay-at-home mom: The kids are in school, so now what?

What's a stay-at-home mom to do when her youngest heads off to full-day kindergarten? The opportunities are endless—and overwhelming.

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Photo: iStockphoto

There’s a lot I miss about my days as a working mom—like a salary and vacation days. But perhaps the thing I miss most are the meetings with my boss where we’d set career goals together. Plotting a tidy career trajectory seemed easy— I simply wrote down my plans in five-year increments. Five years seemed to be the magic number. I particularly miss that meeting now because, as of this week, the baby I left my job to raise starts full-day kindergarten—and I don’t know what to do next.

Read more: Stay-at-home mom: My struggle to re-enter the workforce>

“You’ll have so much time to yourself,” my son said. “Cleaning and cooking will be easier without us around.” Then we both laughed, knowing full well I’m a terrible housekeeper.

“We can be the ladies who lunch!” exclaimed my equally untidy friend.

“You can get a full-time job or go back to school,” my husband suggested. He understands this change is difficult for me, and that I’m at my happiest when I’m busy. Not to mention, the money from a full-time job would be nice (although I know the majority of my salary would be eaten up by after-school daycare and summer camp fees). But I’ve remained on the fence about what is best for me at this point.

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I belong to a few stay-at-home mom forums online. I read that fellow stay-at-home moms Sarah Lennox and Erin McNeil, both from Georgetown, Ontario, plan on spending time in their children’s schools, volunteering in the classroom and the lunchroom. Lennox’s school has a paid postition for lunchtime supervisors, whereas McNeil’s school does not. I love the idea of being able to both spend time with my kids and help support the staff, especially since it’s a small school without the budget for class tutors or snack help.

But lunch dates, laundry and part-time volunteering doesn’t seem like enough to fill my day—or my heart—especially when compared to the overwhelming silence in my house. Even though, over the past few years, I’ve confessed to missing the quiet respite of an office, this is a deep kind of quiet I’m just not used to. I’m told I’ll get used to it, and that the school day will go by quickly. And I’m sure that’s all true.

I’m just not sure that I’m ready.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.