While the summer is still gloriously stretching out in front of me, I have started to think about what it will be like to go back to teaching in September. I’m super lucky to be going back part-time. I will work two set days a week, and alternate Fridays with another teacher. I will get to be home with my kids two or three days a week. I will get to teach my students two or three days a week. It’s really a great situation.
Even with me only working part-time, the G-man and I will still reconfigure household duties when September rolls around. Right now I’m in charge of meals, and a good chunk of grocery shopping, although the G-man does go to Costco on his own (I hate going to Costco). I’m mostly in charge of dishes and general picking up the house and vacuuming. The G-man deals with laundry, the yard and often cleaning the bathrooms (I also hate cleaning bathrooms). In the grand scheme of things I feel like we share these household tasks pretty well. But this year at home has made me realize how work is involved in simply keeping the household running, even beyond the question of “whose cooking dinner?” or “who is going to mow the lawn this weekend?”
Keeping a household functioning requires some brain work. There is a need for planning (kids are going to music class, or playgroup this morning) and a simultaneous need for flexibility (oops. The baby needs a nap. Guess we’ll go late to playgroup). Managing a household means taking care of the house itself with its continuous cycle of dishes, laundry, clutter and general repairs. It also means spending time with your kids, helping them learn and grow, and making sure they are fed, clothed and bathed*.
Now, neither the G-man or I have ever done all of this on our own. We’re a team. But I’d be lying if I said I somehow did half the work of the household when I’m also going to a job outside the home, particularly one as demanding as teaching. When I go back to work (even part-time) the G-man will once again take on a huge amount of our household work. He will deal with a lot more dishes and a lot more cleaning. He will have to be “on” every day when the kids wake up. I might still take care of meal planning and prep, but he will surely be putting dinner together several nights a week. I’ve always known that the G-man, like every stay-at-home-parent, works incredibly hard. But I don’t think I appreciated that as much as I do after a year at home. When I go back to the intense work of teaching in the fall it will be with a new awareness of what intense work I’m leaving behind at home. I will have a new understanding and appreciation of what the G-man is doing all day, and I suspect I will also have a new appreciation of the chance to just listen to a podcast and close my eyes during my morning commute.