If there is one thing that all Mums (and some Dads of course!) can unite on, it is the frustration at being asked ‘what do you do all day?’.
Whether you are a stay at home mum, on maternity leave or even a working mum at the weekends I’m sure you have been asked this. Even being asked what you did that day or last week can lead to this conversation. Sometimes when people ask me what I did last week I have no idea but I know it was non stop, I know I barely sat down and forgot to eat lunch at least twice. And I don’t mind that at all, I love ‘the mum life’ but I don’t love being made to feel like I am lazy or like I don’t do enough interesting things. I am raising a child, isn’t that enough for you?!
It amazes me as well that even some people who have stayed at home looking after a baby before seem to have forgotten just how hard work it is and just how long the hours are. I know each household works differently but in ours Dan works very long hours sometimes 6am till 8pm so that means I look after the house and the baby.
An average day I wake up around 6am with Darcie, I take her downstairs to play while I do a bit of tidying from the night before, I put in a load of washing and then do Darcie’s breakfast, she eats and throws a lot on the floor so once she is done I clean her head to toe and also wipe down the high chair, wash her sippy cup and bib and scrub the kitchen floor. I do all this while Darcie stands in her walker watching me, so I entertain and talk to her while I clean. By this point it’s usually around 9am and I want to have my shower, this involves making sure Darcie is in a safe place in eye sight from the shower and I talk and sing to her while I quickly wash. She then sits on the bed and plays with her toys while I get myself ready for the day. Then, we either have some playtime with all her toys downstairs or she might have a nap. A nap might make you think that I sit down and have a cup of tea but by now the washing machine will have finished so I put away any dry laundry to make room to hang up this next lot. Nap times are a good time to do any jobs around the house that are difficult with a baby in tow so I might clean the bathroom or dust a room while she sleeps. She usually wakes after half an hour and we’ll have some more playtime before lunch.
I make her lunch and sit with her while she eats, as she is still learning about food it’s important she is supervised in case she chokes. My lunch is usually either something quick or sometimes I just nibble on her leftovers. Once she’s finished I repeat the process of cleaning her, the high chair, her bib and sippy cup. Once all this is done we play some more until she gets tired and she goes for another nap. Most days there will be some job around the house that needs doing but some days at this point I do get to do something for myself, this could be watching some telly, making a nice lunch or writing a blog post. I see this as the equivalent of most peoples lunch break at work so I do try to have some down time.She will wake up after about half an hour again and we’ll do some sort of activity or she’ll just have some more time playing with her toys. At about 5pm I start thinking about her dinner, I try to have her eat by 6 so I’ll cook whatever she is having that day. I like to cook everything from scratch so a typical meal at the moment is spaghetti with homemade cheese sauce, homemade potato wedges or a baby led weaning recipe I have found online such as fishcakes. She plays in her walker while I cook which always turns into a game of ‘keep Darcie out of the oven and away from the bin’ all the while trying not to spill any ingredients on her. She eats her dinner/throws it on the floor and then we go straight upstairs for her bath time. I hold her in one arm while I run the bath and get her pyjamas and a new nappy out for afterwards. Both of us are covered in her dinner by the time I get her in the bath. She then has a lovely splash around while I wash her and then I get her out, get her dressed and put her in her sleeping bag. On a good day she will fall asleep after a little feed but on a bad day I will then spend a good 45 minutes trying to get her to sleep and carefully laying her down in her cot.
It is about 7pm by now, I go downstairs to clean up the mess that used to be my kitchen and start cooking dinner for when Dan gets home at 8. Sometimes Darcie will stay asleep for a few hours after she goes to bed but a lot of the time she will wake every half an hour a few times before she eventually falls into a deep sleep. I tidy up the house, put all her toys away, sort out the bathroom, put her dirty clothes in the wash basket and finish cooking dinner. Then Dan gets home and we eat our dinner, somehow Darcie knows the moment the food hits the plate and wakes up so often I have to go up and settle her back again before I actually eat dinner. Once we have eaten I do any washing up that needs to be done, put on my pyjamas and finally sit down on the sofa hoping and praying that Darcie will stay asleep.
I left out all the breastfeeding and nappy changes that obviously also happen throughout the day, and this is a day when I have no errands to run, no food shopping to do, no baby group or classes and no outings or coffee planned with a friend. If someone asked me what I had done on a day like that, I would reply ‘oh not much’.
This is not a complaint, I love my life, I have never felt more fulfilled and like my time is well spent. I am so grateful for Dan for working these long hours that mean I get to stay at home with Darcie even if it does mean that I do the lions share of the housework and childcare. Some days of course I resent all the cleaning and washing, some days I would do anything to go to the toilet in peace but in general I am so happy with my days. So the next time you go to ask a stay at home parent what they do all day, just don’t. They are doing so much behind the scenes, often for little or no praise and recognition, they don’t need to be made to feel like they aren’t doing enough. And to all of you reading this and nodding along in agreement, you’re doing a great job and you’re not the only one! You can also take some comfort in the fact that a lot of these childless friends will one day be in the same boat that we are now and will be wondering how on earth we made it look so easy.