In April, I left my former life as a Big Law (firm) lawyer for the wonderful life of an in-house (governmental) counsel. In addition to the usual perk of schedule stability that comes with in-house counsel life, my new gig also comes with a perk often unheard of for attorneys, in-house or otherwise—every other Friday off. This magnificent perk is part of an Employee Travel Reduction (“ETR”) work plan. The General Counsel of my company did warn me before I started that there’s a remote possibility that I would have to work on an ETR day or two a couple of times a year [in his position, he has to work quite a few; but that’s rare for the other attorneys], but at least when that rare occurrence happens, I would have the luxury of being able to work from home, in my pajamas, rather than trekking out to the office. In the four months I’ve been here, I’ve only had to work one ETR day. Ironically, it was my second week of work (my first ETR day). The Monday after, it was clear how rare working on one’s ETR day must be, as I had several visits from internal higher-ups (including our Executive Director—the equivalent of a CEO in the private sector) thanking me, commending me, and apologizing to me for working on my day off… even though it was only a few hours out of my day.
Every ETR day, I have huge plans for my day off. The Pop Culture Girls are still at school on those days, and Pop Culture Dad is at work, so it seems like with nearly 10 hours to myself, I should get a ton of things done, right? Wrong.
I understand that part of my problem is my ADD. I have a number of home projects in the works, and there’s no possible way I could finish them all with one day to myself—or even 10 days! Somehow, though, every other Friday, I assume that all of these time-consuming tasks can be completed in a couple of hours. To give you an idea of how far my delusion goes, here’s a list of the projects I’ve been working on over various ETR days:
- finish bricking, painting, and organizing the playroom [complete]
- finish painting and redecorating the ocean-themed bathroom and install new double towel bar in the Pop Culture Girls’ bathroom [approximately half complete; it would help if Pop Culture Dad could remember where he hid the battery to the drills]
- garden [was complete, then it was a bust, and now I just don’t even want to think about it. This “gardening” task, however, took three full ETR days of its own]
- fully organize the shelves in my newly expanded pantry (twice its original size) [50% completion; and I’ve given up]
- various sewing projects that have rotated throughout the weeks: Dora PJs for the girls [complete; but it took so long that by the time I completed the tops, we can’t find the pants]; convert the sucky Gerber training pants into thick and waterproof training pants for Super Girl [20 trainers COMPLETE]; a purple top for myself for going out [complete]; a fully lined dress for work [25% completion]; a puffy skirt Little Diva requested [10% complete, if cutting a two-piece pattern and buying material constitutes any level of competition]; a full suit out of the lovely material my BFF bought me for my birthday [the pattern isn’t even cut]; a pencil bag Little Diva requested to match the purse I made in sewing class [80% complete… before my cleaning company threw away the last pattern piece and attached fabric. Abandon project?]; make additional pajama tops for Super Girl and her ever-expanding torso [I got as far as buying fabric… which I then used for the trainers, since I didn’t even know where I was going to go with these pajama tops].
- reorganize the house and wash, fold, hang, and put away 100% of the laundry, including properly separating those items that need to go to Goodwill from those that need to go to consignment (separated by season for the consignment items) from those that need repair [ha! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Do I even need to tell you the status of this one?]
- a whole host of other things that escape my memory now, but which occur to me every Thursday and make my “Mommy-Do List” for the next day
As you can tell, “overly ambitious” is probably an understatement for what I have going on here—especially since every week I seem to be under the impression that more than one of these things needs to be on my list to complete in the 10 hours I get to myself that day. Also, with this day off (and me not having yet accrued any vacation time—not that I’ll really have any extra time once my vacation accrues), I have to throw in doctors’ and dentist appointments for the kids [I have yet to take myself to the doctor, even though I’m probably in desperate need for a visit to the chiropractor if nothing else], hair appointments, and the occasional extremely long lunch with my mother. I also generally don’t take my ADD medication on my day off [why “waste” it on chores??], so you can imagine how many times I find my motivation waning the second I sit down for a breather.
I know “day to myself” is a fantasy for most moms, whether they work outside the home, work at home, or stay at home with kids. The frustration of getting things done with little people [or big significant others] underfoot is a common problem of all women. I wonder, though, how realistic our fantasy of “All The Things I Could Get Done Alone” is in 10 hours. I mean, 10 hours certainly sounds like a lot. At work in 10 hours, I could have (and have had) three meetings and drafted a contract. However, with 10 hours at home, I’m lucky if I’ve gotten through three baskets of laundry. Is my ADD truly compounding my problem [not the project-starting issue; that, I clearly know is a problem], or is it that moms are so used to having to be able to do anything and everything to keep the family running that we don’t even realize how few hours there practically are in the day?
How about the rest of you: What is your fantasy of what would want to do with the day to yourself, and what do you think you think you would actually do?
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