Keeping busy during unemployment
July 26, 2016 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I will likely be unemployed until my baby is born in November. I am staying as busy as I can during the day, but I run out of the things to do in the evening and have been wasting too much time online. Help me hack my routine!

The reason for the longish unemployment is the schedule of the teaching year---off for the summer, but there is some paperwork involved for the subbing come September which may not be completed in time, and given how early in the school year the baby is due, there is a chance I won't get much work before baby comes. This is all okay and we are not worried, but it does mean I am not filling my day with job-searching tasks.

I have many hobbies; I enjoy reading, arts & crafts stuff and so on. These used to productively fill my evenings when I was working. Now, I am trying to slot these into the daytime hours to stay busy, and I find as a result that I spend most of the evening goofing around on the iPad because I have nothing else to to.

My typical daytime routine is as follows:

1) Get up when my husband leaves for work, make his lunch and so on
2) Do work for an online course I am taking
3) Watch an art video on YouTube while I work on my own project
4) Lunch at home, then walk to a coffee shop with my laptop
5) Finish work for online course at coffee shop, read there etc.
6) Come home, workout, shower before husband gets home
7) Dinner with husband, goof off online until TV and bed with him

I need a better way to spend my evenings. I am prone to carpal tunnel and don't want to overdo the iPad stuff. But I'm filling my day with all the stuff I used to do at night so I am not sure how to tweak things.
posted by ficbot to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
1. I don't think there is anything actually wrong with goofing around in the evening after a productive day of work, unless it makes you sad.
2. Cooking, if that is something you enjoy, can easily take up a little or a lot of evening time.
3. Are there volunteer opportunities or pro bono work opportunities in your locale that could use up your daytime?
posted by splitpeasoup at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A few options that occur to me:
-Sign up with a temp agency to bring in some extra money pre-baby
-Find a volunteer gig
-Sign up for a free/cheap class online in something you want to learn -- could be relevant to your career, or just something that sounds fun and you've always wanted to know about
-Many mom friends I know have liked new mom groups, and there might be something similar for pregnant could ask your OB if she/he knows of anything. Similarly, I've known a lot of people to rave about prenatal yoga classes.
-Set a regular appointment with other teacher friends who also have the summers off -- whether a daily time to go for a walk, get coffee, book club to discuss either something "fun" or a new book on pedagogy, etc.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:28 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not to be all gloom and doom, but your time for projects will be extremely limited after the baby comes. (When I had a newborn I had plenty of time for things I could do on my phone while nursing. So lots and lots of reading and internet surfing and texting. Other than that, not so much.) If there is anything in your house that can be optimized/organized/cleaned out/sorted/fixed, do it now. Any house repairs? Do them now.

You could also start cooking big batches of stuff to freeze. More frozen meals that could be easily reheated and eaten one-handed would have been a huge lifesaver for me.

Definitely be careful of CTS stuff, especially when pregnant, but honestly, you're growing a human! It is okay to goof off if you are enjoying it!
posted by john_snow at 7:32 AM on July 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Your problem sounds like it's hard to do brain-engaging activities when there's another person around in the house (i.e. your husband), so that's why you find your evenings filled with random browsing and internet surfing. I find that I'm less likely to do 'deep' work or even any work when there's someone around that I want to talk to/ interact with/ play. So cut yourself some slack... it's okay.

If a lack of activities is really an issue, I would pick up another mentally-taxing hobby in the day time, so your nights are filled with your crafts/reading. Mentally-taxing includes: new hobby outside your comfort zone. Perhaps, exercise classes, painting, life drawing?
posted by moiraine at 8:02 AM on July 26, 2016

Fill up on friend dates before the baby comes and you're too tired! It could be something easy, like tea, or dinner at home.

Or the gym?
posted by the_blizz at 8:16 AM on July 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Play a musical instrument. If you don't know how, pick one and start learning, but do that during the day when you are home alone.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:31 AM on July 26, 2016

I would pick some moderately large mentally-engaging project that you are sure you can finish before the baby comes, which stretches your skills a little bit. The thing about having a tiny baby is not that there isn't any down time, it's that the length and quality of any particular stretch of down time is completely unpredictable, so it's hard to do anything that requires sustained attention. (The baby might sleep in his/her crib...for 20 minutes. Or she/he might sleep soundly for 2 hours--on your chest, preventing you from doing anything else except read on your phone.) So pick something where, when your time is completely fragmented, you'll be able to look back at your completed work and say "I did this, and someday I will have time to do something like this again."
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2016

photograph the stuff in the rooms in your house, so you have an archive to use in case you're ever burgled or have a fire and need to file an insurance claim for replacements.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:18 AM on July 26, 2016

Go to matinee movies in the theater! It's so hard/expensive to go to the movies after the baby comes and you might miss it (I certainly do).
It's good to be relaxed and waste time and even be bored now, just taking time to read books will be something you look back on fondly after November.
You don't need to be productive, you can have a break! You are literally being productive with your body now.
If you want to do things to get ready for the baby, one thing you can do is separate any baby clothes into bags of each size and type, like: 0-3 month short sleeve onesies, 3-6 month long sleeve onesies, etc. And wash all of them/take all tags off so that you won't have to do laundry when you desperately need a new outfit or size.
You can also clear out one shelf or even cabinet in your kitchen for baby junk. You'll probably have either bottles and formula or breast pump supplies, medications, gas drops, etc and it will be good to have somewhere to keep that. Also a little later you will have baby food, puffs, baby dishes and bibs and that can go to that same place.
posted by rmless at 10:39 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you have room, make food you can freeze for the first couple of months after the baby is born.
posted by betsybetsy at 11:35 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is a first kid, right? I would spend my days sketching/stitching/whittling/whatever and swimming while lounging around at a beach, and I would spend my evenings having leisurely dinners, and generally goof off as much as possible. If there is money for the budget for weekend getaways and lots of restaurants, blow it; & if you have a/c and the inclination, have loads of freaky noisy sex.

Try to declutter your house as even young tots tend to breed enormous amounts of stuffed animals and other whatnot. I spent a whack of time in thrift stores while pregnant and amassed a good library of quality children's lit from first board books right though to first readers, and if I found high-quality excellent-condition classic-style anything wearable from birth years, at a good price, I bought it. I had the space. This all worked out wonderfully. They grow like crazy and the turnover from Sandra Boynton to A.A. Milne, shoe size churn, etc, is quick.
posted by kmennie at 11:44 AM on July 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

What is your husband doing after "7. Dinner with husband"? This is your chance to spend more time together. Discuss what life with baby might be like. Find projects you can do together to get your home ready for the baby. Go out for walks together after supper (I don't see a lot of exercise in your daily schedule).
posted by Joleta at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2016

Best answer: I was in a similar boat during the last trimester of my pregnancy. Your schedule sounds very productive compared to what I was able to accomplish! Good for you! You are really smart to get out and go to a cafe every day. Being at home with your time marked by your spouse's departure and arrival can feel really isolating, at least it can for me.

Non-screentime ideas:
- Hang out with friends. Especially your friends who don't have or particularly enjoy kids. You will not have very much one-on-one time with your friends when you have a young baby. You may find that the friends you do hang out with most often are the ones who have kids or are planning to have them in the next year and want to find out as much as possible about your experience with parenthood.
- Do you exchange gifts with people for Christmas or November - February birthdays? Consider figuring out what you're going to do now. Maybe stock up on gift cards. No harm in writing the greeting cards now.
- If you're doing a birth announcement, you could get the addresses together. Some online printers will send you the envelopes in advance to address and stamp. Since you mentioned that you like to craft, you could even design your own and work on them.
- Yes, cook or shop for freezer meals.
- Yes, go to the movies. Go to museums and used book stores. Go to your favorite restaurants that have great lunch specials and serve food that pregnant ladies can eat.
- Go to the gym if there's exercise you can do. Go on long walks through your city with a big bottle of water.
- Get a prenatal massage.
- Make sure you get your tabs, driver's license, and/or passport renewed if any of these are due to expire this year.
- Are you planning on taking childbirth and infant safety/CPR classes? Get those scheduled.
- Basically, anything you love to do for yourself, for your soul - do it! You will be sleeping 90 minutes at a time soon while caring for someone else.

Last thing: I let people know that I was home during the day and available for odd jobs that didn't require tons of physical work. Boy did I get called upon to babysit. It really didn't hurt to care for babies and kids right before having my own, and I pocketed close to a thousand bucks. It was great karma for when I needed to call upon the same people for help.
posted by Pearl928 at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2016


You already did? Go do it again. Get rid of another 50% of whatever you are storing.

Seriously, you will not have the time to clean out your closets / office / garage for like the next three years, at a minimum. Future you will thank present day you a thousand times for decluttering now. (Use your free time at night to post pics and sell your stuff online. There's tons of Buy /Sell / Trade groups on FB now, look for a few in your neighborhood).

True story: the last decluttering project on my list pre- Short Story's birth was the garage. I didn't get to do it until just recently - just after his 5th birthday.
posted by vignettist at 8:47 PM on July 26, 2016

If you're crafty, you could take up a fibre art like knitting or crochet and make some kickass baby clothes. There are *heaps* of free patterns online and most baby things take a day or two to do at most. (Caveat: I mostly crochet. Knitting apparently takes longer.)
posted by Jilder at 10:37 PM on July 26, 2016

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