I'm probably getting really boring with all of my revelations from SAHM life, but this experience has really been interesting and full of little things I didn't expect. And, yes, I have plenty of time to ponder them...
1) I'm less bored than I suspected - I sort of thought that eventually I'd get really bored and just want to nap all the time. Aside from feeling sleepy right around 4pm every day (possibly not coincidentally around the time I need to start pondering dinner and picking up the kid(s)), I'm keeping myself surprisingly busy. Days with Carter revolve around meals and naptime, with some playtime in between. Days without Carter involve going to the gym, working on the job hunt, doing any tasks that require full concentration, and running any errands that are way easier alone. I've been keeping busy enough with all of that that I still have a number of projects on my to do list...not the least of which is doing a complete window covering overhaul in the boys' rooms. I've had all of the pieces for months, but drilling into walls and having to measure are both at the top of the "household tasks I hate" list, so it's still not done. Now I'm not actively avoiding it, either, but I've still been a little too busy to do it. Regardless, keeping myself on some sort of schedule and having a plan for my days keeps me more focused and less likely to turn into a blob.
2) I'm really not that much better at planning dinner - I've had major problems meal planning for a long time, but it's gotten considerably worse since we went gluten-free. Our choices are much more limited and the kids are picky, and the handful of meals that work get old relatively quickly. I think my brain just subconsciously avoids it. I thought it might get easier with more time on my hands, but sadly, it has not. The good news is that I have a little more leeway for pulling things out to thaw or having the time to run to Wegmans at a moment's notice. But I still can't seem to plan ahead very well. Bummer.
3) This may never happen again, so I must enjoy it - As important as it is to get another job, I really do want to enjoy this time as much as I can. Chances are I may never get an opportunity like this again. I had seven weeks off twice previously for maternity leave, but that is an exhausting time and the baby pretty much needs to be the entire focus. I took two weeks off for my wedding, but beyond that it generally hasn't been more than a week at a time. Having three weeks off in a row without a newborn to care for has been very strange...and strangely easy to settle into. But because it's so rare, I'm trying to take advantage. Whether it's taking something off my to do list, finally visiting the Chihuly chandelier, or hopefully going to the art gallery here (I have never been), I want to make the most of this time. Heck, even getting out to lunch with Craig once in a while would be great, since we don't get many date nights right now. I want to maximize the twice-weekly childcare and having available daylight for more than an hour a day.
4) I don't hate housework as much as I thought - I used to think I hated housework. I didn't want to vacuum, dust, do laundry, do dishes, scrub floors, etc. And while I still don't love it, I learned that the main reason I hated it was because I was in a constant time crunch and that was NOT how I wanted to spend my free time. Now that I have some time I really don't mind it as much as I thought. I guess it's all just part of feeling like I'm contributing to the household somehow.
5) It's easy to feel like a freeloader even though I'm not yet - I still have more than a month of severance left, but I'm already trying to make a major effort to save money and actively contribute to the overall quality of life in our household. Even though we're still bringing in the same amount of money (even more, actually, since Carter isn't at daycare as much), I'm just overly conscious of the fact that I'm spending my days at home and it probably looks like I'm not accomplishing much aside from some laundry and a few job applications. I can see where I'd feel guilty spending any money if I wasn't bringing in anything. I am well aware that true stay-at-home moms serve a very important purpose, but I can see the financial part of it bothering me a lot. Other people may be fine with it, but I think all of these years of us both being significant contributors would throw things a bit off-kilter if that changed.
6) Accomplishing things for my family is so much more rewarding - At my old job, my life revolved around a queue of tasks that needed to be done. I very much enjoyed the feeling of checking something off the list. I originally thought I'd feel unfulfilled at home because I wouldn't have the same sense of accomplishment, but it turns out that doing things at home--almost anything, really--is more personally fulfilling than the things I was doing at work, mostly because I know it's for my family, and my family is forever. There's a very stark reality that happens when you lose your job and you once considered your job part of your identity. Suddenly that part of your identity is gone and you feel a little abandoned. You wonder why you sometimes put work ahead of your family, if work was just going to crap on you like that. It becomes quite clear where your priorities should lie, and doing anything for them feels more rewarding and more permanent than anything you could do for an employer. In reality, work is important and you have to give it your all if you want to stay employed, but I hope I can keep in mind the big picture next time around.
Just taking things one day, one meal, one task at a time...we'll see where things go from here!