Hey there, jobber. Employed person. Working so-and-so. Whatever you call yourself. How would it feel if you suddenly got a four-hour break from all work activities? How about if this break became a regular thing, happening twice a week?
I’ll tell you how it feels. My son (almost 5) and daughter (newly 3) just started going to preschool at the same time. A wonderful group of teachers is imparting essential skills and molding these animals into better people with no help from this stay-at-home dad. I’m useless for about four hours, twice a week.
It’s an electrifying opportunity to catch up on elusive goals like fitness and creativity. It’s a focused moment for chipping away at big projects around the house. It’s prime time for personal errands like haircuts and doctor visits as well as boring stuff like auto repair, lunch with grown-ups and stores that don’t sell toys.
The only drag on my newfound freedom is this haunting truth: We’re paying a lot in tuition, and I don’t make any money. The longer the kids are in school, the less being a stay-at-home dad makes financial sense.
That’s why I’m resolving to make the most of every four hours of useless. Here’s what I did the first day:
7:30 a.m.: Follow the mom and the kids to school and assist with drop-off. They don’t need both of us for this, but I wanted to be there on the first day. Also, I took a cute photo outside the school.
8 a.m.: Official start of my uselessness as a stay-at-home dad. I head to a nearby trailhead and hike up South Mountain. Back when the Champ could fit in a Babybjørn, these hikes were a regular part of my dad routine.
9:30 a.m.: Pick up a Breakfast Crunchwrap from Taco Bell. Return home and shower.
10:30 a.m.: Arrive at paint store to color match paint for some plank siding that was damaged in a storm. My buddy and I hung the replacement siding over the weekend, which makes me feel useful.
10:45 a.m.: Paint takes 30-40 minutes, so I go to Walmart. Forgetting those looming financial concerns, I buy a handful of new toys. You should check out the Walmart-exclusive Streets of Gotham City collection from Imaginext. I decide Champ and I will make a YouTube video about the Two-Face SUV. Sometimes I make enough money on a YouTube video to cover the cost of the toy.
11:15 a.m.: Return to paint store for paint and additional supplies.
11:45 a.m.: Return home. Fill screw holes in siding with wood putty.
12:30 p.m.: Pick up kids. Teachers say the Hobbit did well on her first day, but now she’s vacillating between crying for mommy and politely saying goodbye to everyone she sees. A Champ is fine.
And bam. I’m back on the clock. It was a good four hours of useless, and technically I got an extra half hour thanks to an early drop-off. My plans for tomorrow include trying to squeeze another hike in before I have to go to the dentist. In the future, I might join a gym or fix the pool or get an eye exam. I have a physical scheduled later in the month.
I might even write more blog posts. Maybe I could freelance, make a buck here and there.
Whatever happens, I need to keep making the most of my four hours of useless. Because if I start sitting around, my newfound free time will be as useless as a stay-at-home dad whose kids are in school.