These days, Sunday nights include packing many tiny containers full of toddler-friendly finger foods to send with my son for breakfast and lunch the next day.
Sunday nights include trying to fit in one more mini Netflix marathon with my husband before another busy week.
Sunday nights include looking through my planner, figuring out how many errands have to happen this week because if we run errands after work, I can't take my son to the park or the library or for a playdate.
Until recently though, my Sunday nights looked a whole lot different. They frequently included staring at an almost blank calendar, anxiety building about too many hours at home with my baby and no one else to talk to.
I was a stay-at-home mom for the first 15 months of my son's life. I wouldn't trade that time for anything. I know that staying home isn't for everyone, but I truly loved immersing myself in all things baby and watching my son transform so quickly, as only babies do.
Still, there were parts that were hard. It seems like a paradox, but being a stay-at-home mom is incredibly hard work and I also felt like there was so much time to fill in our days together. I hate to say that because I love observing babies and watching their development, but for me at least, it was sometimes true.
I am a homebody by nature, but a rainy week would leave me on edge, feeling like I couldn't spend another hour at home with no one else around without losing my mind.
Even with wonderful mom friends, being a stay-at-home mom at times felt isolating. There were days that were so full of joy that I couldn't imagine being anywhere else, and days that felt so lonely when I couldn't be more grateful for Target and the library, where I could escape to and at least make small talk with a stranger.
I began to think through our weeks and try to plan at least something for every day. If I had a week with no plans it made me anxious. I imagined long days with nothing to break up the time and felt the urge to fill the calendar.
Still, I really did love being a stay-at-home mom. I would probably still be at home with my son if the school where I taught before he was born hadn't contacted me and asked me to come back part-time. It was a hard decision, but I felt pulled to say "yes," even though part of me dreaded and feared the change and the loss of precious time with my little one.
I knew I had to listen to my inner-self and give this a try.
Parts of going back to work were much harder than I expected, but I've also experienced a very welcome shift in how I view an empty calendar. I've had two days off from work recently where we had nothing planned, and instead of seeming "boring," they felt truly luxurious.
A "boring" day means I can probably sleep past 5 am. And more importantly, it means I won't have to wake up my sleeping baby, which makes me feel guilty Every. Single. Time.
A "boring" day means I can take time to cuddle with my son in the morning, rather than rushing to get him up and dressed for the day. It is heart-wrenching when he wants me to cuddle in his bed with him and his favorite stuffed penguin and I have to tell him "no" because we're running late for work.
A "boring" day means we can go for a walk and go to the park and play Legos together, all in one day. A day like that feels so full.
A "boring" day means I can make lunch for us based on what we want to eat, rather than packing it all into his red fox lunchbox the night before. Even with a toddler clinging to my leg, this feels pretty nice.
A "boring day means we can read every book on his bookshelf, and then get more books out of the closet because we have all the time in the world.
A "boring" day means I can spend a little time folding laundry or preparing dinner while my son plays nearby without feeling guilty because I know I still have plenty of time to give him my full attention.
A "boring" day means I can go to story time or a mom meetup, which all seem to be in the morning when I'm usually working.
A "boring" day means I can slow down, and this is what I love most of all. It means we don't have to rush, we don't even have to go anywhere unless we want to. While maybe this used to feel a little bit boring sometimes, it doesn't now—not even a little bit.
It feels amazing to wake up slowly and sip coffee all morning while watching my child play or run around the backyard. It feels… perfect.
Going back to work has made me view our open-ended "boring" days in an entirely new light. This is not to say that being a stay-at-home mom is easier. It isn't. At all. It's just nice to have the contrast.
When I was a stay-at-home mom, I enjoyed the days when we were out and about all day and had lots of plans. Now that we're always out, I treasure our time to stay home and do things spontaneously.
So to the mama fighting boredom, watching the clock and ticking down the minutes until bedtime, try to remember the goodness of all of the extra snuggles you're getting. Then make a date with a friend if you can.
We all need a little balance in our lives, and the contrast of mixing it up makes the day-to-day normal that much sweeter.