A good friend asked me recently if I planned to get a job once Kate goes to school. And no, no I don't. At least not for a good long while. Here's how I see it:
By the time Kate goes to Kindergarten I will have been working at this stay-at-home mothering gig for almost ten and a half years. And in that time I have taken virtually NO vacation or sick time. So I have A LOT of time off coming to me.
Here, let's do the math together. I started being a stay-at-home mom the day Claire was born. When Kate starts school at the end of August 2014, I will have been at this "job" for 10.46 years. But we'll just round it off to 10 years. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that I accrue vacation and sick days at the same rate as someone working a 40 hour week. This is a ridiculous underestimation because as every mother knows, you work 7 days a week and sometimes even through the night. Therefore I am more than comfortable saying that the times I do get away for an evening or Saturday to do my own thing don't really count as vacation time. I will assume that since my normal mothering work day is 14 hours long, a day off would include 14 hours. This means that when the kids are at school for 7 hours, I am only getting half a day off. Also, since normal workers get the weekend off, when I am on a trip away from the kids, I don't need to use vacation days for the weekend.
I will deduct the time M and I went away for 3.5 days for our 5 year anniversary and the time we went to New York for 1.5 days to see Les Mis as vacation time. I will also count the one week I spent in Japan with my sister. So that's 10 days of vacation time that I have taken in the last 7.5 years. I project that I will take another 5 days of vacation when M and I go on a cruise for our 10 year anniversary next year.
As for sick leave, I refuse to count any recovery time from childbirth because that is part of the job. But other than that, I have not taken any sick time. Ever. Vomiting with a horrific stomach flu all day? Still nursed a baby between trips to the toilet and still made meals to feed kids. Deathly ill with swine flu? Still got Claire to school and picked her up, plus all the feeding and diapering. Mastitis? Kept on trucking.
Once the kids are all in school, I will get a half day off each weekday. But they are only in school 36 weeks of the year. Assuming that I earn vacation and sick leave at the same rate M does at his current job, I have put together a little graph to show my accrued time off with each passing year since Claire's birth when I "began employment." The red vertical line represents when Kate starts Kindergarten if we are rounding things off to 10 years.
At the peak just before Kate goes to school, I will have accrued 240 days of personal time off. If I just started taking that at full steam, it's nearly an entire year of full days off, Mon-Fri. But I won't get to take it all right away. I'll still work the half day that the kids are home after school and full time during the summer. That will really stretch out that time off. Plus I will continue to accrue some more time off. Assuming that by not getting another job I will take a half day off every school day, then as you can see by where the graph of my remaining personal days finally dips back down to zero, I deserve AT LEAST four and a half years off after Kate starts Kindergarten before I even have to THINK about getting another job.
FOUR AND A HALF YEARS!!! And that's really probably an underestimation given that we estimated a 40 hour work week. (40 hours?!?!? HA! I WISH!!!!) Plus, I'm not actually going to eat bon-bons all day. I'm sure I'll spend a fair amount of time that the kids are at school doing things for them, cleaning the house, volunteering at their schools, etc. And to think, I only have to wait 10 years before all my kids go to school. Plenty of people have much longer due to more kids and/or more space between their kids' ages. Think of the time they will have accrued!
I don't know why it seems like some stay-at-home moms think they have to run out find a "real job" as soon as their kids go to school. Most of those women will vehemently tell you that being a stay-at-home mom IS a real and important job. Well, I agree. It is an important and real job. The benefits package really sucks though (at least on paper). You may not get medical/dental/vision. You may not get stock options. You may not get employer matching to your 401k. In fact, you don't even get paid. But you at least deserve some time off. Staying home with your kids IS a real job. Enjoy your time off when your kids go to school. You've earned it.