Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You're a stay-at-home mom? What do you do all day?

Being a stay-at-home mom sounds like a great idea to many. "You get to stay home all day and not work?! SWEET!" I often have people ask me about what it is I do all day. There are some that never give my job (yes, I said job) a second thought. Others assume I sit around with the kids watching TV on the couch while eating snacks all day. I don’t think being a stay-at-home mom is necessarily harder than all other jobs, but it is definitely no cake walk either. So, for those out there that are curious about what I do, let me take you on a journey through a typical day in my life… This is going to be REALLY long, but if you really want to know what my days are like, this should paint a pretty good picture! (And if you cannot handle the whole day, there is a conclusion at the end that you can skip to! :)

Wake up to the sound of your toddler crying in his crib.
Roll over to find your three-year-old standing next to the bed, staring at you.
Listen to your three-year-old jabber on about every random thought that comes through her head.
Take a moment to go to the bathroom (while your three-year-old follows you into the bathroom and continues talking).
Rejoice in the fact that your two-year-old is still sleeping.
Instruct your three-year-old to be quiet so her brother can sleep.
Carefully remove your wailing toddler from his crib and bring him downstairs without waking your two-year-old.
Make breakfast for your two awake children.
Let the dog out and fill her food/water bowls.
Toss some waffles into the toaster for yourself.
Begin emptying the dishwasher.
As the waffles pop up, realize that your two-year-old is now awake and calling for you from his room.
Take a moment to accept the fact that once again you will be eating cold waffles for breakfast.
Bring your two-year-old downstairs and make his breakfast, too.
Eat your cold waffles while simultaneously emptying the dishwasher.
Once emptied, begin filling it with the dishes from the sink from last night (Why didn't you do them last night, you ask? Wait until you get to the end of today and maybe then it will make sense.)
Immediately after finishing, take your screaming toddler (who finished eating a whole 2 minutes ago) out of his high chair.
Clean the high chair and the child.
At this point your three-year-old has finished eating.
Help her clean her hands, put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and wipe down her mess at the table.
Finish putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
Give yourself a two-minute time-out to check your email and update your Facebook status.
Run upstairs to grab clothing for the kids to wear for the day.
While upstairs, throw on the easiest, clean clothing you can find for yourself within 30 seconds.
Take two minutes to brush your teeth, throw your hair in a pony, and wash your face.
Bring the kids clothing downstairs and begin wrestling them into their outfits.
While dressing them, continuously shoo the dog away, as she thinks you are trying to play a game of tug-of-war with her and the clothing items.
Immediately after dressing them, get bombarded by requests for more milk/juice.
Stop to refill all the kids’ cups.
Begin packing the bag for swim class.
Hunt for towels, swim suits, swim diapers, etc.
Be sure to pack snacks and drinks, as the older two will expect refreshments as soon as they are picked up from the YMCA daycare.
Next, start a big pile in the front hallway of all the kids’ winter gear: coats, hats, boots, etc.
Call the kids to the front entryway and begin dressing them in their winter gear.
Remain calm as they all have meltdowns and whine and cry about having to put on their winter gear.
Take two minutes to locate your keys.
Once locating your keys, realize that both boys have pooped their diapers during the two minutes you were looking for your keys… and a few minutes after you finished dressing them in their winter gear.
Remove both boys’ coats and change their poopy diapers.
Put their winter coats back on.
Pick up your toddler and the swim bag and herd the children into the van.
Spend 2-3 minutes on each car seat, making sure the buckles are secure and properly aligned.
Continue to remain calm as they all have additional meltdowns about God only knows what.
Get in the driver’s seat and take a deep breath.

Congratulations. You have made it to 8:45AM. Only 11 more hours until they go to bed.

Drive carefully through the snow to the YMCA.
Find that once again there is no parking in the YMCA parking lot, which contains maybe 10 parking spaces.
Due to the snow, pull up the van to the entrance, turn on your flashers and get out of the car.
Remove the three kids from their car seats and the car.
Carry your toddler while holding your two-year-old’s hand while helping him (dragging him) up the snowy steps.
Remove all the children’s winter gear and hang it up in the coat room.
Bring them into the childcare area and sign them in.
Inform the workers that you will be back for your toddler after parking your car.
Go back to your car and park it a block away from the YMCA in a nearby lot.
Trudge through the unplowed/unshoveled walkway back to the YMCA.
Pick up your toddler from the daycare while assuring your whining two-year-old he will be OK while you are gone.
Carry your toddler and your swim bag to the locker room.
Realize that class starts in 1 minute.
Rush to strip off your clothing (while praising yourself for at least having the sense to put on your suit back at home).
Strip your toddler as quickly as possible and wrestle him into a swim diaper and swim suit.
Grab your towels and rush to the pool.
After all that rushing, arrive at the pool only to find that class has not started yet and does not start for another few minutes.
In your head, complain to yourself about the fact that you rushed and rushed only to sit around and wait for your class to start late.
Get in the pool and spend 30 minutes doing toddler songs and swim activities with your 1-year-old.
Take pride in the fact that he went underwater twice today and did not cry either time.
Get out of the bathwater-warm pool into the freezing cold air and wrap up your toddler in a towel as quickly as possible while trying to forget that you yourself are freezing, too.
Return to the locker room and begin the song and dance of getting your toddler and yourself dressed and your bag repacked.
Use your child’s milk sippy cup as a way to distract him so you can put your clothes on without him crawling himself right out of the locker room.
Realize you really need to go to the bathroom, but your toddler is with you.
Bring him into the stall with you, stand him up on the floor.
Hold his hand with one of your hands, while removing your pants with the other.
Go to the bathroom.
Put your pants back on one-handed while continuing to hold your toddler’s hand so he will not sit down.
Hold back vomit as you consider your response to the idea of your child’s hands (or any part of him) touching the dirty, public bathroom floor.
Pick up your toddler, head to the sink, wash your hands.
Carry your gear and your toddler back up the stairs to pick up your 2-year-old and 3-year-old from the daycare.
After signing them out and greeting them, remember that your car is a block away from the building.
Put on their winter gear and start the sign out process.
Tell them you will return in a couple minutes after picking up the car.
Try to block out the sounds of their crying as they watch you leave the daycare area without them.
Walk a block through the still unplowed/unshoveled walkways back to the van.
Drive around the block and pull up in front of the YMCA entrance again.
Head back upstairs to pick up the kids.
Again carry your toddler down the stairs while holding the hand of your clumsy two-year-old who would likely fall down the 10 stairs without your assistance.
Herd the children into the van once again.
Repeat the drama of buckling the kids into their car seats.
Realize that while you prepared snacks and drinks for the kids, you did not actually place said snacks and drinks into the swim bag.
Listen to the kids scream, cry, and complain about their lack of food and drinks for the entire 20-minute ride home through the snow.
Pull up to the house to find that the driveway is covered in about 3 inches of snow.
Remove all the kids from their car seats.
Help all of them remove their winter gear upon entering the house.
While removing their gear, continue to be bombarded by requests for juice and snacks.
Hang up all the coats and put the boots in the closet.
Bring your toddler upstairs for a nap that you are not sure he will take since he fell asleep in the car for 10 minutes.
Lay him down in his crib and continue downstairs.
Let the dog outside.
Pull together snack for your two-year-old and three-year-old and serve the snack.
Let the dog back inside.
Put on your winter gear and open the front door so the kids can see outside from the storm door.
Tell them they can go to the door if they need you.
Head outside to shovel the driveway.
Realize that you forgot to take out the trash.
Become excited when you realized the garbage truck (which usually comes at the butt-crack of dawn) has not come yet.
Take out all the garbage.
Now shovel the driveway.
Every 5-10 minutes, stop and poke your head in the front door to make sure your children are not killing each other.
Finish the driveway and return inside only to have your three-year-old crying about the fact that your two-year-old hit her with a toy car… and that the dog is in the process of chewing up your three-year-old’s winter hat.
Console your three-year-old.
Yell at the dog.
Pick up the hat.
Put the dog in the crate.
Put on a movie for the kids.
Take 2 minutes to check your email and Facebook account.
Head upstairs to take a shower.
Jump in the shower for no more than 5 minutes since you hear your toddler awaken just before you are getting in.
Get yourself dressed and then go pick up your now wailing toddler.
Put your toddler immediately into his high chair.
Give him some raisins to tide him over until lunch is ready.
Prepare lunch for all three children and serve said meal.
Find some pasta leftover from your kids’ dinner last night.
Reheat it and scarf it down for your lunch while also cleaning up your cooking mess as you eat.

Congratulations, you have made it to lunch time! Unfortunately, it is only 11:45AM, so your day is not half over yet.

Head to the car to grab the swim bag and empty all the wet clothing/towels.
Rotate the laundry in the basement, starting a new load of dirty clothing.
Since you are downstairs, take a two-minute break to check your email and to see what is going on in everyone else’s lives on FB (or at least, those who have updated their status in the past hour).
Bring a basket of clean clothes upstairs, but realize you do not have time to fold it right now.
Head upstairs to grab your daughter’s dance clothing and necessary hair accessories.
When returning downstairs, get bombarded by requests for ice-cream (no), My Little Pony fruit snacks (no), and more juice (OK).
Fill your kids’ juice cups.
Instruct your three-year-old to use the bathroom before getting her dance clothes on.
Finish cleaning up the table from lunch.
Run a brush through your wet hair (remember that shower you took?) that you do not have time to dry, and put it into a ponytail.
Take the dog food out of your toddler’s hands and mouth and put the food bowl away.
Call your three-year-old over so you can dress her for dance.
After the circus that is getting on tights and a leotard and snow boots, remember to remain calm when your three-year-old tells you that she needs to go to the bathroom… again.
Help her out of her dance clothing so she can use the bathroom.
Begin getting the boys dressed in their winter gear so you can head out to dance class.
Grab a few toy cars and trains so the boys have something to play with in the waiting area at your daughter’s dance class.
Toss the toys in your diaper bag along with some drinks and snack. Don’t forget them this time.
Herd the children into the car once again and go through the whole charade of car seats and buckles and whining.
When arriving at dance class, try your best to keep your cool as your two-year-old (who refused to wear snow boots) goes tromping through the deepest snow patches in the parking lot (note: he also hates wet socks).
While holding your toddler, the diaper bag and your three-year-old’s dance bag, pick up your two-year-old by the arm of his coat and get him out of the deep snow.
Take a deep breath as you enter into the most difficult hour of the day.
After undressing all three kids from their winter gear, get your daughter’s tap shoes on while trying to prevent your toddler from crawling underneath the chairs in the busy waiting room.
Once you’ve sent your daughter into dance class, spend the next hour chasing your crabby toddler (who never really took a nap after falling asleep in the car after swim) and your overtired two-year-old (who normally takes a nap at 12:30 each day, except on Tuesdays when he does not nap until 2:30) around the waiting room at the dance school.
Stop them from eating food off the floor.
Correct them when they try to take toys from others.
Continuously bring them back to the seating area each time they try to get into areas that are not intended for them.
Count down the minutes until your daughter is done so you can get everyone back home.
When you see her teacher ending class, begin the song and dance of getting the boys all packed up and in their winter gear.
Try to keep your extremely crabby toddler controlled while removing your daughter’s dance shoes and putting on her snow boots.
Trek through the snow with the kids and re-buckle everyone into their car seats (and yes, they are still whining about it, yet again).
Drive back home.
Sigh with relief when you notice the empty garbage cans that you almost did not get out in time.
Rejoice in the fact that your garage will not smell like week-old poopy diapers for the next week.
Pull the van into the garage and remove all the kids from the car.
Take off their winter gear again and put it all away.

Are you still with me? Congratulations, you have not only passed the halfway point in your day, you have also made it to NAP TIME!

Bring your overly-exhausted toddler and two-year-old directly to their rooms for nap time.
Immediately serve your hungry dancer with yet another snack and pop on a TV show for her.
Head downstairs to rotate the laundry again.
Take 10 minutes for a “Mommy Time Out” and dink around on your email and Facebook while taking a breather.
Consider the options: laundry folding, sitting on the couch to watch a show off the DVR, or working out?
Begin with the laundry folding.
Fold and put away 3 loads of clean laundry.
Realize you will only get more tired as the day continues, so take the time to do your 30-minute workout video.
As you are doing the cool-down stretching, you hear your toddler wailing through the baby monitor.
Head upstairs to get both your wailing toddler and his two-year-old brother he successfully awakened with his crying.
Grieve over the loss of couch time, as you are totally exhausted by this point.
Knowing your toddler is most likely super hungry, fill up his high chair tray with a variety of foods that he can feed himself.
Give your two-year-old his snack.
And give your three-year-old yet another snack, since she has to eat while the others are eating.
While they are eating, take a few minutes to eat a snack yourself.
Check the clock and find that it is now 4:30PM.
Your older children will be awake for another 3 hours.
Your toddler will go to bed in an hour.
It is a bath night for all three of them.
Needing something to fill the time, take all three upstairs for a group bath.
Stop in each of their rooms to collect pajamas and diapers.
Remove the towels from the closet and begin filling the tub.
Stick all three children in the tub with some cups to play with.
Fight to wash each one’s hair and body as they play in the water.
Attempt to keep all water IN the tub and off yourself.
One-by-one, remove your clean children from them tub, towel them off, and fight to get their pajamas on over their barely dry bodies. (This is harder than you’d think.)
Send your two-year-old and three-year-old downstairs.
Bring your toddler directly to his room and lay him in his crib.
Sigh a big sigh of relief, as your youngest is now down for the night… only two to go!

Are you tired yet? Congratulations, you have made it to dinnertime (5:30PM). Although, this can be the toughest two hours of the day as your kids are very tired and moody by this point.

Head downstairs to find your two-year-old and three-year-old wrestling on the couch.
Break up the rough play before someone slams their head on the frame of the couch (again).
Realize it would not make sense to make a full dinner since your husband is out of town and you are the only adult eating tonight.
Instead, decide on a simple dinner of lunchmeat sandwiches, bananas, raisins, and milk for the kids.
Begin assembling their dinner while breaking up the arguments that occur between the two kids (approximately every two minutes).
Listen to your daughter whine about how it is HER turn to talk, and try not to laugh at her when she has nothing to say once given the floor to speak.
Serve the kids their dinner.
Begin searching the house of their sippy cups.
While checking under the couches, find a sippy cup that got stuck under the couch (apparently days ago).
Determine that the cup cannot be salvaged (and hold back your vomit as you find the chunky milk inside).
Immediately throw the cup into the trash in the garage to get the smell as far from you as possible.
Kick yourself for not finding the cup BEFORE the garbage truck came earlier today.
Refill the dog’s food bowl.
Spend a few minutes working on her command training.
Let the dog outside.
Begin heating up a dinner-for-one frozen meal for yourself.
Put all the dishes from the afternoon snacks into the dishwasher.
Let the dog back inside.
As your food is ready, your two-year-old and three-year-old decide they are done eating.
Put your food aside to help them clean up their hands and to remove their plates from the table (which the dog will surely try to get to if you leave it there).
Take your food to the table to eat.
Get interrupted by a phone call.
Sit back down to eat.
Get interrupted by your two-year-old who insists that his diaper mustbe changed now.
Change his diaper.
Sit back down to eat.
Get interrupted by your extremely tired (non-napping) three-year-old who insists that you put her show on immediately.
Knowing the battle that will occur if you do not put the show on, you get up and find something for her to watch.
Sit back down to eat.
Take 3 bites before your two-year-old insists that you fill his cup for the 10th time today.
Fill his cup again.
Sit back down and begin eating as quickly as possible before another interruption comes your way.
Clear your own plate and clean up the kitchen table.
Look at the clock and realize you still have another hour to go until bedtime.
Brainstorm ideas for keeping them occupied.
Remember that they have not had much time in the playroom today since they’ve been out and about.
Bring them into the basement playroom (where the computer is located) so they can play and you can FINALLY have 30 minutes to sit down and write a blog to de-stress from the day’s activities.
You sit back and relax and type while stopping every few minutes or so to answer their questions or to play for a little bit.
At this point, you remember why you love your job so much.
Seconds later they begin fighting again, and that special moment – in which your reflected on your love of your job – becomes a fleeting feeling and you are back on duty.
Promptly at 7PM, you begin the bedtime process.
The kids unwillingly head upstairs as your two-year-old informs you “I –on’t wan it!” when you tell him it is time for bed.
You send your three year old into her room to play while you read books to your two-year-old.
You make him smile with your funny voices at storytime.
Then you make him laugh while you tickle his feet.
You practice colors while reading some books.
Then you give him a kiss and a hug good night.
You head off to your three year old’s room to start the process all over again.
You read her her three books (because she is three years old) and answer her millions of questions as you do so… (“But Mommy, why does the mouse put the lock on the strawberry?” “So the bear won’t eat it.” “But Mommy, how come the mouse put glasses on the strawberry?” “Because he is trying to disguise it. That means he wants to trick the bear into thinking it is not a strawberry.” “Why he do that?” “Because he doesn’t want the bear to eat it.”)
Then you tell your three-year-old about all the amazing things she has ahead of her for tomorrow before giving her a hug and a kiss goodnight.
And you melt when she says, “Wait, Mommy! I love you!” before you walk out of the room.

Your day is officially done. You have survived. But before you head off to the couch to finally sit down, don’t forget about the laundry that is still not done, the last of the dishes and the fact that none of the other major household chores have been touched yet today. Just sayin’.

Not every day plays out this way. Some of these things occur on a daily basis. Others happen, but with different variations. It all depends. While this blog walks through all my motions (and some of my thoughts) from the day, it does not include all the dialogue. It doesn’t show all the interactions with my children, aside from the cooking and dressing and holding and helping. Had I included that, the blog would have been ridiculously longer. It is also not to say that EVERY stay-at-home mom has days exactly like mine. I am just giving a sample from my life. I cannot speak for every stay-at-home parent. Some are busier than me. Some are less busy. It totally depends.

My day is not impossible (though sometimes it feels like it is). It can feel never-ending. It can feel overwhelming. It is definitely both physically and mentally draining. But, it is also very rewarding. My point here is not to suggest that parents that work have it easy or something (in fact, I think they have it harder in many ways – and this is NOT at stay-at-home vs. working-mom debate). My point is just that my day is not a walk in the park. I do not sit around on the couch watching soap operas while my children run amuck. While my day might not be as academically stimulating as other professional jobs, it keeps me on my toes in a different way. Stay-at-home mom is a unique profession with extra-long hours, no built in lunch breaks (or any official breaks for that matter!), constant demands, and endless chores. This does not make it sound appealing. However, you have to consider that the day also includes baby giggles, hugs and kisses from your kids, watching their faces as they learn new things, celebrating with them as they reach new milestones, and being there to comfort them during moments of distress or frustration. It can weigh you down and make you feel so blessed, all at the same time.

So, the next time someone tells you they are a stay-at-home mom (or dad!), now maybe you’ll have better idea of just what they go through on a daily basis.

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