I can't say enough that it is easier on me to have 2-3 hours on weekdays to get everything done around the house, run errands, plan (and maybe prep, lol) dinner, and have time to myself. I need time to myself. Then with picking my kids up from school, we have a huge chunk of time.
It is such a big chunk of time, I can easily take an hour in the evening to go out with just one of my kids. We don't do this every night, but for example, last night I took just my daughter to the library for an hour, and we had a great time together.
I had a chance this year to go full-time at my job, and I did at trial with my kids at after-care. It was fine in a lot of ways, but I missed the time.
My husband found me getting grouchy from not having time to myself, and I was trying to get things done on the weekend, too.
Depending on who you are around ----- you can feel like a loser for not working full-time, like you have to explain why you are not doing something more productive like home-school or something.
Well -- my husband gets personal time and quiet time in the evenings after working full time, and he needs it. If I take personal/quiet time after 6:00 it is going to be at the expense of my kids in some ways, but I *have* to do it for my mental health. I just start to get run down without it.
A lot of weeknight activities in my community are based on parents getting off work at 5:00, picking up their kids, and then going to an activity starting at 6:00 or 6:30. Then they get out at a time that is on the later side. It is stressful to make the effort in a lot of ways.
There is this theoretical thing with a lot of parents at my kids' school, where every child plays one sport, and one activity, and then of course Scouts, and of course church one night..... and then of course the sport and Scouting will have some weekend commitments. And this is seen as: "we aren't doing too much, not like those people whose kids have ballet and soccer on the same day."
There are kids who are *thriving* on these schedules, and parents who schedule their own social lives in some ways around chatting with friends during soccer practice or gymnastics or ballet or swim lessons, etc. They schedule their kids for something at the same time as a parent friend, and then have time to chat with their friend. I see it working.
It is so far from working for us, though. We do not do well with it. So -- right now my kids are not in anything. Even church activities just run too late for us. My kids are just messes.
My older son is in Scouts right now, but it is a troop that does not meet very often, which is a good fit! He still gets to go camping a couple of times a year, and he is old enough that he can be picked up, come home, get to bed, etc, without being wound up and staying awake, or being sad there is not time for enough stories.
This comes and goes sometimes, b/c I get tired of reading aloud so much sometimes.
But, I also generally have a lot of time in this 5 hours to read aloud. I used to *always* read aloud to my older son for about an hour every evening. I was also doing a massive dyslexia remediation program with him for a couple of years (he reads at grade level now, yay). Now that is rarely more than 30 minutes a night for him. But, I am reading a lot more to my daughter, as she has gotten older and has a lot longer attention span. I read to her for at least 30 minutes a night, often more.
Then my younger son..... I used to read to him and my daughter together, and for quite a while.
Now they are not really at the same listening level, so I am reading to him separately, too.
I have had times when bedtime was an ordeal with my younger son, and then, I was getting up in the morning and reading to my older son before school, which he really likes, too, and not always reading to him in the evening.
But anyways ----- there is *easily* time for me to spend 90 minutes to 2 hours (2 hours is a high, 90 minutes is pretty usual, 60 minutes is bare-bones) to my 3 kids. This is about how much reading aloud I do even in the summer when my kids are home all day. This is the amount I want to do somehow, I don't do more with more time.
With less time, I miss it, and it would be hard to read even 60 minutes spread between 3 kids, if we had weeknight activities, b/c they always will seem to cut into bedtime. And, right after school, my kids are ready to relax or have free play. They do not want to do anything right after school. So it is like ---- things are either right after school, right at the time we eat (and messing up my ability to prepare dinner, which is always kind-of hard for me b/c I am not so good at planning ahead), or right before bedtime. These are all difficult times for us.
I really, really get why parents whose kids are drawn to a lot of evening activities will want to homeschool and structure their lives that way.
For us -- we cannot afford so much (x 3) with me not working full-time anyway, so I would need to work more to pay for it.... then I am working full-time, and we don't have time together in the evenings and I am stressed out.
There really are a lot of low-cost activities, too, really we *could* afford things if we did more of the low-cost options. The activities that would tempt me are things that get expensive for 3 kids, though. It turns out that it is not a huge group at school who are doing all of the more-expensive things.
There are also things my daughter may do when she is older, but we are not getting into the "you have to start at this really young age" thing, just b/c when you have that mindset, you are making a major time commitment usually, that is beyond a lesson a week. When people are talking like that, there kids are in lessons 2-4 nights a week at what I consider a young age, and it is pricey, and it is either taking up a lot of after-school time (that my kids like to be free play or going to the park) or else it is eating into bedtime. Though -- there are people where this works out very well.
But anyway ------ if you want to work part-time, get everything done while your kids are at school, choose not to schedule them for weeknight activities (or minimize it, like ---- maybe one activity going on in the family per week, like everyone is at church or tae kwon do together..... or all the kids don't have an activity year-round, but maybe one kid has an activity for a few months, and then another kid has an activity for a few months, so you still have several unscheduled family nights), and choose to plan your evenings around pretty extensive time to read aloud. There are nights I read aloud a lot more just b/c we have new library books for my daughter, or my older son's book is at a good part, too.
I definitely feel like I get a lot of time with my kids, my kids get time with each other, and I get some free time, and I have time to get things done. What is lacking is spending time with my husband on weeknights, we spend more time with each on the weekends, though.
Something to point out ---- for us, church is really not a "family time together" activity at all. It took me a while to realize that. But really -- at church, to some extent, we go our separate ways. So -- on the weekend, if I am thinking about family time, I *don't* count church at all. My kids are all worn out after church, too, and so Sunday Dinner after church, that in my mind is *special family time* is really nothing special for my kids' age group. When they are older I think it will be *special family time.* Right now it is more like -- just feed them and let them decompress after church.
School is much more structured and regular for them, and we are in a small town where kids still get recess (2 recesses, plus lunch/recess, for my 1st graders) and so they are more worn out after a morning of church than they are after a day at school. Two of my kids *really thrive on structure.*
But I think if you want to have weeknight activities, it can be your personal/private time, or your social time, if you have friends you grab coffee with while your kids are at a 45-minute lesson. This is just not me, it will feel rushed to me, I would rather be at home.
I know, when they are not having mom take one kid one place, while dad takes another kid another place, that there are couples who have couple time while their kids are at a lesson, even if it is just going to the store together. Or, people who have personal time with one kid while going to a store, or just sitting with a book and reading to their kids, during a lesson time.
I think this can be good, especially the couple time. That is something I think looks good! But with my kids' ages/interests, we don't have anything where I think I could drop all 3 of them off, go out with my husband, and then pick them all up, on a weeknight.
Separately -- the way my part-time job is, I can meet my husband for lunch sometimes, so that is our main private couple time right now, and then just spending some time together on the weekend.