A single friend once commented about me staying home with Abigail. (For the record, I dislike that term, “stay at home mom.” Or, SAHM. I’ll get to that in a minute.) She said, “I bet you love getting to watch soap operas all day.” A little stunned, I mumbled, “Yeah, something like that.”
When I worked in an office full-time, I envisioned stay-at-home-moms (I’ll use it now because of familiarity) sipping coffee on their decks in the morning while they read their morning papers. They’d skip down the street to the park with their kids, then one of them would bend down to pick a flower, hand it to Mother and they’d share a hug.
So I’m here the set the record straight a little. I decided to keep track of a particular day we had a couple of weeks ago.
6 a.m. – Jonathan kisses me goodbye while he heads to work. I know I need to get up soon.
6:30 a.m. – Awake before Abigail, which is always my goal. Since I showered the night before, I make the bed, get dressed and start eggs and toast for breakfast. I quickly scan through email and delete a bunch of Groupons we don’t need to buy. I empty the dishwasher, fill up her sippy cup and get out a fresh bib. I hear Abigail stir, so I throw in some laundry right before I grab her. (We’re cloth-diapering, so this is a common occurrence.)
7:15 a.m. – I get Abigail dressed, we read a few books and we’re on our way downstairs to breakfast. I text Jonathan a picture of her.
7:45 a.m. – Breakfast. Abigail promptly lets me know she’s finished when her cup and eggs go flying onto the floor. I clean up her hands and face, and then pick up the mess from the floor.
9 a.m. – After playing for a bit, we’re off to the library. We play with the Legos for awhile (which means I try to keep her from throwing them at other kids) and scribble with crayons on some coloring sheets. When she’s finished with that, I follow her around the library to make sure she doesn’t get into mischief. I text Jonathan a picture of her.
9:30 a.m. – We attend story time. She claps and dances with the first song, and then I try to keep her wrangled as the librarian reads stories about dinosaurs this week. Abigail loves going, so we try to attend every week. We leave shortly before 10. I sing “Wheels on the Bus” on the way home.
10 a.m. – Just as we get back home, I get a call from a printer about a project. She wants me to stop by later to approve some table covers. I said Abigail and I will see her around 1:30. Good thing they’re family-friendly. I put the laundry in the dryer, Abigail in her sleepsack with a fresh diaper and then we read a few books. She seems to be uncomfortable on my lap, so I lay her down with her stuffed toy and a book.
10:30 a.m. – Abigail is talking herself to sleep. I watch about 10 minutes of The Price is Right while I check emails again, and then it’s time to get to work.
10:45 a.m. – Abigail has fallen asleep. I fold and put away the laundry, clean the bathroom countertops, sinks and toilets. I put away the dishes from breakfast and clean the countertops. I spend some time in the office paying bills and working on a press release.
Noon – Abigail wakes up. I change her diaper and give her some deli turkey for lunch. She looks at it as she’s never seen it before, so I offer up a Fig Newton, blueberries and a hot dog. Some of it ends on the floor. I clean up her hands and face, and then pick up the mess from the floor.
1 p.m. – We pack up the car for the printer’s office, including my purse, cell phone, our grocery list, coupons, a change of clothes for her, a diaper, some snacks and her sippy cup. I grab the mail on the way there. Just my luck – a new Parents magazine has arrived. I hand it back to Abigail to look at the babies while we drive.
1:30 p.m. – We get to the printer’s office. I put on her shoes and we walk in together. She empties out my purse and opens my lipstick. Then I distract her with snacks as the printer and I discuss PMS colors. I hand the printer some muffins to thank her for being so flexible with Abigail.
2 p.m. – We stop at Target on the way home to get a few groceries. Abigail enjoys the free kid’s cookie from the deli counter as we shop. She devours it in minutes, so I distract her by showing her other Target guests and their kids. I text a picture of her to Jonathan.
2:30 p.m. – We head home to pick up a lasagna I made for a new mom in Ankeny. Abigail fights to get back into the carseat (I should’ve just left her in there as I ran inside quickly). I change her stinky diaper and leave. I continue to sing “Wheels on the Bus.”
3 p.m. – We drop off the lasagna and go back home. I’m running out of things on the “Bus.” Pickles go “crunch, crunch, crunch.”
3:30 p.m. – We get back home and unload our groceries. As I’m on the phone with the printer again, Abigail flings a jar of salsa to the floor. Luckily, the lid dents just a little. Whew. I give her a sealed container of multivitamins to shake while I finish my call.
3:45 p.m. – We relax a bit and watch some Sesame Street on Netflix.
4 p.m. – I start prepping dinner as much as I can, while being pulled away to look at books and play with Abigail. I text a picture of her to Jonathan. (Oh, where did those multivitamins go?)
5 p.m. – Jonathan gets home. He plays with Abigail while I finish dinner.
6 p.m. – We eat dinner together. Well, sort of. She’s just getting used to one nap a day, so she’s very tired. Jonathan takes her upstairs slowly while I finish my pork burger. (Where are those multivitamins?)
6:30 p.m. – Tubby time! I give Abigail a bath while Jonathan preps her room with the white noise machine, her PJs, diaper and sleep sack.
6:45 p.m. – I dry her off from the tub. We get her dressed and Jonathan starts to read books to her.
7 p.m. – I clean up her toys and our dinner dishes. I start to prep our lunches and snacks for the next day. I start the dishwasher. I take a bathroom break to find the multivitamins in the basket with the toilet paper.
7:15 p.m. – Jonathan joins me downstairs while Abigail talks herself to sleep. We watch a recorded “Arrow” from the fall of 2012. (Yes, we’re that behind.)
8 p.m. – I go back to working in the office on a story for the Iowa Farm Bureau while Jonathan works on the weekly meal menu plan.
9 p.m. – Jonathan and I head up to bed. I shower, brush my teeth, etc. We read and catch up each other on our days.
10:30 p.m. – Lights out.
(Abigail’s starting to have nightmares, so we’re up a couple of times a night with her, too.)
There you have it. It’s a day full of keeping Abigail entertained, getting some housework and some client work finished. It’s not always unicorns and rainbows, but it works for our family. And it’s not for everyone. She’s the apple of my eye and I love how we’ve worked this out. Don’t get me wrong; I love my daughter. And we have a great time together. This schedule is just realistic.
So the next time you think of a stay-at-home mom, try not to picture her eating Bon Bons and soaking in the tub all day. I sure don’t anymore.