The Evening Free

The last three days I’ve hired young mother’s helpers to come entertain the children while I work. This is a win-win, because I am able to work in relative silence during daylight hours and my kids are entertained with new people who are energetic and don’t have anything to do but devote time to the children.  The problem with my current job is the hours – mostly nights and weekends. You know, the times when most everyone else relaxes, spends time with their kids after school, and socializes. So I’m trying to fight that by working during the day when I can, though the sitters are certainly not free.

My to-do list shrunk by more than half. My new business website is done. I contacted clients. I finished client work. I updated my resume (yes, despite the job going well, might be time to start thinking about more stable options). I was productive and I knew I’d have the evening free.

After my sitter left, the kids were filthy in the best sense of the word. They’d spent almost all day outside, a day of mild temperatures and soft, nearly-fall air. Jonah had grass stains on the skin of his knees. Chicken waited in the refrigerator for later, marinating in a new recipe, so the kids and I took off on wheels around the neighborhood. The older three rode their bikes, proud of their new skills (yes, Grant is now riding training-wheel free, too!) but still adorably wobbly. How big and small they looked on their bikes, cycling off ahead of me as I pushed Jonah in the double jogging stroller. I guess it’ll be time to sell it soon – Grant is six and a half and though he’s thin as a blade of grass, he’s almost to the point of being too proud to be wheeled about by his mother.

We stopped at the pond and parked our stroller and bikes. The kids unbuckled their helmets and ran their fingers through their hair, and we all dashed off around the water. Jonah has new shoes that light up and he’d say, “I love running!” and his giggle would fall behind me as he let me win, then carry ahead as he sped up to beat me. I felt such joy over these kids and their smiles I had to take their photo with my cell phone by the edge of the pond as we finished. That’s a keeper.

Back at the house I had to Google how to make corn on the stove, since tonight was, shamefully, the first night we made it. Grilled the chicken indoors. We ate and laughed and I had to bribe the two younger boys to just taste the food, just one bite.

And then – bathtime for everyone. The kids stripped down and jumped into the tub together, still unselfconscious enough that they think that’s perfectly fine, which makes it perfectly fine for me, as well. They tried floating paper boats (a good lesson that paper will disintegrate in water, as their mama told them).

Clean and sleepy, the big ones went to their rooms to read and I put Jonah to bed. Worn out by all the sunshine and the nonstop fun of the babysitter, he was asleep in ten minutes. A miracle after last night’s hour-and-a-half bedtime madness.

This is what I want – time each day with my children where “work” is off the table, because I had time to get the work done. Tonight I will crawl under my covers before 10:30 and smile back at my day and sleep.

Until Jonah wakes me up at 3:45 am begging for juice, anyway.

Written for Just Write, a weekly free-writing exercise I somehow managed to miss last week. Such is life.



  1. That is so true. I’d happily clear my work table to make way for real time with the kids. After leaving a hectic work schedule, I never just “fit in” the kids to my schedule. And everyone’s happier with that.

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