18 October 2011

Pajama Party

Even though it's been nearly three months since I left my job to come home, relaunch my scholastic career and take care of my family full-time, it still feels awfully strange to not have anywhere to go or anything to do specifically throughout the day.

I'm used to being more than busy: I'm used to being frenzied in my schedule.  I've worked in downtown Toronto for more than a decade and have been commuting for seven years, which means on top of a work-day that sometimes lasted nine, ten, eleven hours, I tacked on two hours a day in transit.  Generally, I worked hard both at the office and, when necessary, at home (I say generally because sure, there were lapses in my attention and interest ... who doesn't go through down-swings?)  Add to that the on-going demands of family life: kids need to go here, they have lessons there, dog needs walking, meals need cooking .... all the good stuff that is the real fabric of my life made an already full schedule just that much crazier.  That, of course, doesn't take into account anything extra curricular for me, or for hubby, and forget about cleaning the house!

Obviously the benefits of full-time employment meant we could indulge in some perks: a professional dog-walker took care of the pooch while we were out during the day; a cleaning service gave us a helping hand every few weeks when our house was teetering on the brink of collapse around us.  And meals, well ... all I can say is thank goodness for the Prepared Foods aisle at Loblaws.  It wasn't ideal, but it was functional.

Ain't no cookin' like mama's the President's home cookin'!
image via here

Fast forward to now and there are a thousand things I love about being home.  I take great pleasure in making my kid's lunches every morning, and chatting with them while they get ready for school.  I am SO on top of their school work it's ridiculous; I might as well work at the school now!  We are spending less - marginally, but still less - on food every month now that we eat strictly homemade meals, and I'm pretty chuffed about the variety and nutritional value of what I'm putting in my family's mouths every night.  I love school - love, love, love it! - and am excited every day when I head out to campus.  My brain gets buzzing with all the new information I receive on a nightly basis, and I can feel my neurons crackling with activity.  I sometimes imagine that in the dark, my brain is literally glowing.  My kids, especially my little one, are much more settled in these past two months than I've seen them in years, and their moods are vastly improved by our new circumstances.  Life is coming up roses.

So where I am going with this?  At the risk of sounding negative or ungrateful (which I most emphatically am NOT), and in the immortal words of Axl Rose (thank you, G'n'R),
every rose has its thorn.  Very true, yes?  And my thorns are just digging a little deeply right now, is all.  Living on one salary and fully half our former budget?  Very tough, particularly when the expenses are not reducing themselves to keep pace with the newly restricted income.  Hi there, two-thousand-dollar-car-repair-we-weren't-antipating.  Hello, grade-8-school-trip-that-we-can't-possibly-deny-our-offspring.  Welcome, yoga-membership-for-my-hubby-and-little-one-to-keep-them-in-great-shape-physically-and-spiritually.  Come in, rep-volleyball-fees-plus-some-extra-tournaments-this-year.  Please, show yourselves in and have at my bank account, and good luck to you all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not resentful about any of these costs (well, maybe about the car but that's about it).  We knew volleyball loomed in our future and I hadn't realized the school trip would be so expensive, but it'll be worth it.  And yoga ... well.  It's all worth it, really.  It's all part of keeping the family on the emotional straight-and-narrow.  It's just pricey.  And as for those other fun things that keep me occupied in the house, I'm getting surprisingly tired surprisingly quickly of cleaning the kitchen every five minutes.  The dog glares at me reproachfully because some days I lose track of time and she doesn't get her walk.  She's bored and she blames me, and she's absolutely right.  I feel guilty a lot.  And laundry!  Don't even get me started on laundry, the never-ending battle ...

Pfft ... ironing.  As if.
image via here
My very own holy grail ...
image via here

Those are not even my biggest worries, though.  They all drive me a wee bit crazy (the budget more than anything), but what I really worry about most is that my brain is turning to mush.  Yes, the old noodle gets all snappy and happy when I'm in class or doing homework or, as is the case now, writing a blog posting.  In general, though, I'm finding that not being constantly over-scheduled means I'm hardly scheduled at all, and I don't think my brain is cut out for a life of mental leisure.  I forget appointments all the time and if I do remember them, I'm usually late.  I get the kids to school on time, but sometimes it's in recycled socks or sweaters because I've forgotten to wash just that specific load.  My ability to estimate time - in terms of the time it takes to drive somewhere, cook something or call someone - is virtually non-existent, and I've just this second realized as I sit here typing that I've completely forgotten to prepare tonight's dinner ... that takes four hours to cook in the crockpot!  Apparently it's hotdogs for the kids tonight!

Worst of all, though, and I tell you this purely in the interest of full disclosure, is the fact that I wear my pajamas.  Everywhere. 

Not my real legs, but definitely my real "style"
image via here

Seriously.  With the exception of class (where yes, I do change into jeans and a hoody, or at the very least, yoga pants) I wear my pj's everywhere and to do everything.  Since I barely leave the house anymore (hello, hermit? it's shut-in calling ...) and when I do, it's only to grocery shop or to pick up a kid from school, what do I need to dress up for?  Who do I need to impress?

The trouble might be that there is a distinct difference between getting dressed up and just getting dressed.  Maybe I'm just still in the throes of relaxation that comes with being a stay-at-home mum?  Maybe it's a bit of backlash to the years of wearing button-down blouses and slacks to work?  My pajamas have always been my favourite clothes, I just didn't have as much time to spend in them historically as I do now.  Maybe I'm just trying to make up for lost time?  Whatever the reason and for good or for bad, it's a fact that right now, me and my pajama pants are like Bert and Ernie: inseparable.

Bosom Buddies
image via here

What I want to know is, am I the only one?  I know a lot of my fellow bloggers are stay-at-home or mostly-stay-at-home parents, many of you with wee toddlers and babies (and not the pseudo- and full-on-teenage monstrosities that my kids are).  Do YOU wear normal pants during the day?  Are you more stylish than red plaid flannel and if so, how do you drum up the motivation - or the discipline - to dress like a real person?  Am I just overreacting, or should my family stage an intervention post haste?  Hit me up in the comments, bloggers.  This little piggy needs some reassurance that it's not all sweatpants and slippers from here on out!