Mother’s Day is coming up, and the whole internet is abuzz with thoughts on what it is like to be a mother. Each of us makes our own choices for how we will mother and what is best for our children and our families as a whole. For our family, we have chosen to have one stay-at-home parent, and that’s me. I care for the needs of our family and home during the day and do my writing work at night, after my littles are in bed. It’s working well for us, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have this choice for our family. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.
When I was a kid, I remember thinking that being a stay-at-home mom couldn’t possibly that hard. Didn’t moms just get to read magazines and tell their kids what to do all day? Judging by my stack of magazines, many months high, that I’ve yet to even glance at, the answer is no. Fellow stay at home moms, this one’s for you and the hard work you do. Here’s a little glance at where all my time goes. Where does yours go? Is it dinnertime before you realize it?
Every day I wonder, "Where did the day go?"
These fifteen things provide part of the answer.
Kids need to eat! Many times!
This one is fairly obvious, but it takes a lot of time. I try to keep snacks simple, but if it’s messy, it’s a full meal experience, bib and high chair and all. Unless I cave to the siren call of the bakery down the street, there are five times a day that at least one of my littles needs to eat. That’s a lot of meal prep and clean up!
I can't just leave them in their pajamas all day.
Or can I? Most days, the answer is no. Elvie now thinks it’s funny to resist having her shirt put on, and Zinashi is getting to be a very picky little fashionista, so this takes longer than one might expect.
There are a lot of little crises that require mama love.
There’s also a lot of jealousy when one child is held and the other isn’t, so I spend a lot of my day with my lap occupied, in full snuggle mode. But let’s face it: there are worse ways I could spend my time. I’ll take the snuggles!
We love cloth diapering, but there is a time investment.
With Elvie now eating a lot more solids and drinking more water, we go through a lot more diapers. Cloth diapering is simple, but these days I have to make a point of staying on top of keeping plenty of our stash ready to go.
Kids get out a lot of stuff.
While Zinashi can put things away, it’s Elvie who has the hobby of getting out as many things as possible and leaving them in her wake. Because we live in a small space, I can’t just do an end of the day clean up – we wouldn’t be able to walk through the house! So I put things away to at least keep a clear path through the house.
Sometimes things don't stay put away for long.
If there’s one thing Elvie likes even better than getting things out, it’s getting things out as soon as I put them away. She thinks it’s the most hilarious joke, almost as hilarious as not letting me put her shirt on in the morning.
Social media exists to we can spread the cuteness.
When my kids are being cute, I like to share. Mostly I share photos or little tidbits on Twitter or Facebook. It helps me to remember why I chose to spend my days doing what I do.
This is multi-tasking at its finest.
It usually goes like this, “Sound out the word…OH NO! Sound it out while I get Elvie out of the bathroom and then tell me what it is when I get back!” But at least I’m getting some exercise running back and forth, right?
When they can play together more, they can also argue more.
I love that my girls can play together and enjoy one another’s company, but things are not always harmonious. As Elvie enters toddlerhood, she’s figured out that she wants what she wants, and she wants it now. Zinashi is used to having things done her own way, so it creates a little bit of tension. Elvie is a biter, and Zinashi is dramatic; it’s the perfect storm.
If she can choke on it, Elvie wants it.
We’ve got bins and drawers full of things that are appropriate for Elvie to play with, and she can get those things out anytime she wants. But she doesn’t want to – she wants the quarter that Zinashi left on the coffee table.
Every single day, she tries to defy gravity.
Whether it’s trying to crawl off the bed in the master bedroom or open the gate to the stairs, Elvie is intent on going where she wants to go, when she wants to go there. And if we are preventing her? That must mean it’s more fun.
Elvie thinks some things taste better off the floor.
This is a lot harder to keep up with than I thought it would be. Sometimes it’s like she drops food just where it can hide from my cloth or broom, then watches for the right moment to go back and grab it later.
I daydream about having a lunch break.
When I’m on my hands and knees, cleaning up goopy banana after lunch, or when my six-year-old expresses her displeasure of her lunch options, it’s hard not to imagine the luxury of eating something someone else made, that someone else will clean up, all alone or just with other adults (who are all capable of getting their own lunches and feeding themselves), and get a little envious.
I'd rather do this than park a car in my city, but still.
It takes a lot of work to get us all out of the house with everything we need, and corralling both kids on the bus or train is challenging. I try to run errands on my own when my husband can stay home with the kids, but sometimes we just need something that can’t wait. So off we go.
It's how I get through my day.
It’s not that I couldn’t live without coffee. But something hot, delicious, and caffeinated translates into a little luxury that makes getting up and getting things done easier. And if I grab a cup while hanging out with a friend and her kids? Even better.