The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

Finding a New Groove

In the last 8 months my days have seen a major change.  I sent my baby to kindergarten in the fall and it changed everything.  Our house became quiet for 8 hours a day.  I could go to the grocery store alone, and not have to work around nap times.  I’m guessing to many of you, especially those with babes at home, in the thick of mothering, this sounds like heaven.  Believe me, as a mama of 3 babies in 4 years I always thought it did too.  Or it did, until the time came.

In the quiet of my new, kid-free days all I could hear was the deep ache in my heart.  I felt lost, no longer needed. I tried to tell myself not to be dramatic,  I had school age kids for goodness sake, it’s not like they all left for college. Still the ache remained.  My friends of older children told me I would come to love my free days, even become protective of them.  I couldn’t even imagine this happening.  Still, to keep myself from being sucked into a self-hosted pity party I began to look for ways to fill my time.  Unfortunately, in my zeal to be productive I soon learned a lesson in overbooking. I didn’t feel any better just crazy busy.

In talking to my husband, I brought up the idea of going back to work full-time.  Although I wasn’t crazy about the idea I really didn’t know what else to do.  My husband, in his ever nurturing way, said he didn’t think that was a good idea.  He told me that I had earned this time after 10 years of babies at home, that it was okay to take some time for myself.  “Do all the things you love,” he said, “you finally have the time.”

So, that’s exactly what I started to do.

Knowing myself, and the need for a bit of organization, I make a ‘to do’ list each day.  It always includes the things that need to be done to keep the house rolling…grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry. Those completed, I am free to work on what I love…photography, my blog, cooking, running, friends, computer time.  I even bought a puppy and decided to pursue dreams I had previously put on hold because I didn’t have the time (or energy) to devote to them.

It’s taken some time, but I’ve finally found my groove.  And while I won’t say I love my quiet house, these days I’m enjoying my time too much to notice quite as much.




About Alison

Alison Bickel lives in the heart of the Midwest where, along with her husband, they raise their three boys. Whether it’s in the garden, the kitchen or tagging along on her boys’ latest adventure she looks for the simple beauty in everyday from behind her lens. The photography bug bit her in sixth grade, upon getting her first camera, a Kodak Disk. She has been chasing light and subjects ever since. On her blog, ‘This Homemade Life,’ Alison shares tales of mothering, her passion for vegetarian cooking and obsession with farmer’s markets.

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  • bentley

    Oh my, I have nearly 2 more years until this day arrives, and I already have mixed feelings about it. Ty will be home alone next year with me and even that will be hard. My oldest goes to kindergarten in the fall so I’m trying to soak in the mornings he’s still home over the next several months. Thank you for reminding me to do so. I know I will cry the moment he steps on that bus. It will be bittersweet in so many ways.

  • Gretchen

    Oh Alison….this rang so true for me too! Sent my baby and third to school this year too and it was, to put it lightly, traumatic for me. Not for her. She loved it and so I faked it for her. Then my husband said the same thing yours did (we married well, huh?) and I have found a little bit of myself again and it feels good. Just a new chapter and while I miss those times, they are growing and becoming wonderful people even though they’re not under foot (as much). Thanks and enjoy the things you love!

    • Alison

      Gretchen, you said it perfectly. While I LOVE watching my boys grow into who they are it was so hard to let them go. I’m glad you are finding your way too. And you’re right, we did marry well. 😉

  • Joyelle Brandt

    I know that 5 years from now I will be going through the same struggles that you have been through these past few months. My first son is going to Kindergarten this fall, and when I started thinking about being alone in the house all day, I started talking about having another baby. Now I am 33 weeks pregnant 😉 Next time though I am going to have to face the music, so to speak. I am hoping to slowly build an art business over the next 5 years so that when the time comes I will have something to focus on that I love. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Alison

      Best wishes on the rest of your pregnancy Joyelle! You’ll have the best of both worlds with a school age child and a baby.

  • Aprilcwilliamsphotography

    I have kids in school all day for the first time in 18 years! I beat myself up every day feeling useless. I am productive, but I just feel like I should be working, or something. My husband said the same yours did. I just haven’t listened to him very well. For some reason, your post just really opened my eyes, that I should be a little easier on myself. Thank you. well said!

    • Alison

      18 years?! Wow, April. You do deserve some time to yourself. I was pretty hard on myself in the beginning too. It’s been a great lesson in patience and nurturing.

  • Sandra

    We began sending my only son to daycare/preschool shortly after he turned two. It was not as you describe since I was already working four days a week and my husband was at home with him but having strangers taking care of your baby after you and your husband are the sole people in that role is scary. It all worked out nicely though. My son is happy at the school.

    • Alison

      Sandra, it would be very hard to send a little one off to a new setting for care. I’m so glad it was worked out well for your family.

  • clair

    So glad you found your groove! Been wondering how my own trasition will go— half day prek for the youngest this coming year– then kindergarten. I guess I get to ease into it. :) Enjoy your pursuits!

    • Alison

      I think Pre-K would’ve been a great transition, for both me and my son. All day kindergarten was a huge leap. Thanks!

  • Tracey Bower

    This school year also marked my first as an “empty nester” 😉 I had such a hard time sending my youngest to Kindergarten this year- I felt like for years I couldn’t wait to have these days with them both in school and then when it actually happened I didn’t know what to do with myself. It wasn’t until January that I finally got my groove down (which includes finally finding time every day to go to the gym!)

    • Alison

      Tracey, I’m glad you were able to find your groove too. It took me until about January as well. I was just lost, it seems after all the years of 3 boys in the house I only know how to be productive with a little chaos! 😉 A ‘to-do’ list has been a huge help giving me some direction.

  • Karin

    Oh boy. My littlest one is 3,5 so, in half a year, he will be leaving for school too. I am looking forward to that day, but at the same time just want the time to stop, right here, right not. I am sure I will feel exactly the same way you did/do. Good to hear you found a new groove. That’s reassuring 😉

    • Alison

      Karin, I so know those feelings. I love watching my boys grow and learn, but at the same time it tugs at the heart too. When the time comes, be patient with yourself. You deserve it. :)