Thursday, August 6, 2009

Me, us, the house, the money

Since this whole stay at home wife (maybe SAHM someday, but not yet, hold your horses people) is new to me, I've been fumbling a little as to what to do. Okay, so I'm not really a stay at home anything since I do work part time, but after working close to 55 hours a week at school, my current 7 hour a week schedule seems like a vacation.

And there's the rub. I can't get my mind around whether this home thing is a vacation or a career. Should I be working or playing? How much of my time is free time?

My house isn't a disaster anymore. Regardless of what you may have read in the Feminine Mystique, housework doesn't always expand to fill the available time. So that means I have time. Not however limitless time.

And so, despite the fact that it feels like I have all the time in the world, I find that I need to make choices. And I don't always make the right choices. I'm so used to trying to be "productive," which has so often meant money, that I found myself wasting all my time looking for something productive to do. That sounds silly, but it's where I am.

I don't want it to sound like I'm bound by any 1950's ideal of what a housewife should be. But in our current division of labor, my husband works full time. I work part time, enough to help pay the bills and have a little money left for savings and debt repayment, and the rest of the time I'm home. The equity of this situation does bear with it certain expectations. So when my husband comes home to find me on the couch with my computer, cranky and un-put-together, dishes in the sink, and dinner not made, something has gone awry.

So my new set of priorities is this: Me then us then the house then money. If there's something I need to do to be a healthy, happy, positive human being, then I have to do it. That might mean exercising, writing, cooking myself a real lunch, or just scheduling in some quiet time. Then, I need to make sure I do anything for us, anything necessary to charge our relationship. So, meeting my husband for lunch once in a while trumps scrubbing floors. The next priority is to take care of the house. Generally 10 minutes a day is enough for cleaning, plus a little time to keep up with my laundry. The money comes last. While I'd like to make extra money, everything else has to be done first. If I'm not taking care of myself, my marriage, and my house, then the extra money isn't worth it.