I used to wonder “what do stay at home moms do all day?” I assumed they watched cartoons, talked on the phone, did their own thing while the kids played. Part of the reason it is so hard to know what a stay at home parent does is because every time someone asks this question the response is so full of small things that she doesn’t know how to answer it. Because she is CONSTANTLY moving.
Yesterday I tried to do a time study on my life as a SAHM… a business tool that I used in past jobs to evaluate if I was using my time efficiently. The study requires you to write what you do and the time it took to do it, all through the day. I used to think my last job was so insanely busy, and it truly was difficult, but I had TIME to write what I did every 10 minutes.
The first five minutes of the morning dashed my hopes for the time study by waking up at 6:00 AM to my toddler screaming “MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of her lungs, repeatedly. I somehow manage to sprint and stumble to her room at the same time, praying she doesn’t wake up the baby. But of course, she wakes up the baby.
The truth is, it’s so exhausting for me to live out one of my own days with a firecracker-toddler and a teething baby, that typing it all out and reading it gives me a headache. So, hyperbole aside, let’s put what I do on an average day while at home by myself with the kids in numbers. To make it fair I won’t include dinner when my husband is home and the hours will only be from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm. Here we go:
Change 17 diapers (seriously, I counted. But, admittedly, it was a “poopier” sort of day).
Make 11 plates of food for meals/snacks (momma has to eat too).
Step on some toy that threatens to puncture my foot 3 times.
Tell my toddler to sit back down and eat her food 6 times.
Breastfeed 8 times.
Put on 2 BAND-AIDs.
Change my son’s clothes 4 times (which is about as easy as putting a onesie on an octopus).
Change my daughter’s clothes 2 times (with a side of tears and negotiation).
Attempt to eat my breakfast 7 times.
Pick up my eight-month-old 21 times because he is either upset or endangering life or limb.
Clean up spit-up 5 times.
Feel torn because they both need me in the same second 56 times.
Tell my toddler that she cannot watch TV 6 times.
Fish something slightly dangerous out of my son’s mouth 5 times.
Attempt to unload the dishwasher 7 times.
Deal with 13 toddler tantrums.
Clean up some form of spilled liquid 2 times.
Clean the kitchen and crazy messy high chair 3 times (it’s magically messy 5 minutes later).
Tell my toddler to “share” with her little brother 11 times.
Return 35 things to their “place” that my toddler felt belonged in opposite end of our home.
Wipe someones snotty nose 8 times.
Forget what I was just doing 12 times.
Comfort my screening baby, who just hit his over-sized head, 4 times.
Feel my blood pressure soar 16 times.
Answer the question “WHY?” 900 times (ok, slight exaggeration, but there’s an emotional cost when trying to explain microbiology and “why she is a girl” to a two year-old).
Read 9 stories.
Dance with my toddler 4 times.
Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 5 times.
Watch my toddler do “something tricky” 8 times.
Have my heart completely melted by them 13 times (I know, I sound like a MasterCard commercial).
Many days in this stage of life, I feel like Bugs Bunny trying to catch my Great Grandmothers fine china as the Tasmanian Devil chucks them ruthlessly from the rooftop. So, making dinner in advance, cutting fingernails, scheduling doctors appointments, grocery shopping (with two kids), taking out the trash, brushing teeth, calling insurance companies, cleaning and the like are bonus items that make me feel like an olympian.
I am fortunate to have the choice to be home, and nobody said being a SAHM was glamorous work. But one thing’s for sure, it is the furthest thing from a relaxing-TV-watching-lazy-do-nothing job!