Monday through Thursday, I work outside the home, doing a job I enjoy, in the field I studied, with people I like. On Fridays, I have the extreme good fortune to be home with my two and half year old. I am very lucky to have this job and these Fridays.
For a long time, I treated Fridays as if I had to jam in all the things I couldn’t do with Evy the rest of the week. Trips to the library, the park, playdates, story time, hikes. I saw those Fridays as my chance to do all the things I wasn’t doing with her while I was at work. (And, of course: because even though I'm comfortable with our current arrangement, I'm not guilt-free. I am a mom in 2013, after all.)
And then, Evelyn started talking, and letting me know - in no uncertain terms- what she wanted.
After three days of daycare and a fun-filled day with her Nonni, what she wants on those “mommy days” is simple: to stay home. She wants to play with her own toys and get absorbed in imaginary worlds without anyone telling her that it's time for the next activity. She wants some mommy time and some alone time. She wants to snuggle and read books, play in her kitchen, take care of her dolls.
I was the one who thought we needed all the other stuff.
And so now, I don’t make any Friday plans. I might mention some things we could do, but if she’s not interested I don’t push it. For the most part, I don’t get involved in field trips and playdates, and I resist the temptation to run errands and go visiting.
I let Evelyn stay in her pajamas until late morning (and - one recent rainy day - until after naptime). We color together. We read books and build block towers. She gets lost in her own world of play while I cook or take care of the things around the house that get neglected Monday through Thursday. Sometimes we bake together. We go outside without an agenda: maybe we’ll just wander around the yard, sometimes we go for a walk, or play in the sandbox. (This all makes it sound easy and rosy- there are many challenging toddler moments, I promise. But not having a schedule takes pressure off both of us.)
There are many days when I leave for work and wish I could spend the day at home with my kid. But it's our balance of work/daycare and home that gives us this special luxury of unscheduled time together on Fridays.
I don’t worry much about giving her time to socialize, or do projects, or go to the playground. Evy spends three days a week with her best buddies- painting, making music, building, playing outside, running around the gym, learning about sharing, empathy, and working together. On Thursdays, her Nonni brings her to story time or the park. And on my work days, I get plenty of time with other adults - something I missed very much when I was working less.
So, on Fridays, we can just be. And I’m getting better at letting that happen.