What Do You Do All Day?

What do you do all day?

When I was a young mom, a childhood friend asked me this. I understand that the question is among the Top Ten mothers hear, but it was the first time someone had literally asked me.

My friend had been working and going to school. She was genuinely curious about what filled my time each day since I did not have a job outside the home.

At the time, I really didn’t do much. I say that now because I …just barely sat down to eat lunch and it’s 2:30 p.m. I feel lucky that I showered this morning before everyone awoke.

alexander-dummer-150646-unsplash

So… what do I do all day?

Just for kicks, let’s break today’s schedule down so far:

Night before: stayed up late to do my online homework after staying up late helping my second son start work on complete his science fair project.

3:00 a.m. Woke the five-year-old up to go potty because he’s had two nighttime accidents.

5:00 a.m. Woke to tell my alarm that was way too early. Went back to sleep without recalling this conversation.

6:00 a.m. Got up and showered.

6:30 a.m. – 8:10 a.m. A haze of getting four children and a husband up, going, breakfasted, clothed, up again, going again, thanking the wonderful husband for making lunches, breakfasting again, reminding boys to brush teeth, finding shoes, thanking the wonderful husband for gluing pictures and a header onto a trifold board, getting them all out to the car, and finding my coat and keys.

8:30ish a.m. Arrived at school and helped two boys carry their extras into said school.

9:00 a.m. Left school to run errands.

12:30 p.m. Came back home from errands to post office, grocery store, pharmacy, library, and pharmacy again.

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Fed Five whilst putting away groceries and distracting him with “Curious George” cartoons.

1:40 p.m. Ignored loud ‘napping’ noises upstairs as I finally made my lunch.

2:00 p.m. Updated monthly calendar on wall with appointments and dinner plans (for three days so far! Woot!).

2:15 p.m. Sat to eat my lunch and type a blog post.

In addition: told my oldest son who called that I am not going to pick him up early from school because he’s bored.

The rest of the day is just as busy; with karate lessons, cub scouts (for the boys and for me because I’m a den leader), dinner, computer time, homework, baths or showers, bedtime, and bed.

adult-angry-beautiful-366063

If you are still with me, then you can see that being a mother is busy. You probably also saw that it is mind-numbingly dull. I mean, I lived this schedule and my brain skipped as many lines as it could in reading over it.

Another, later time that I was asked The Question:

What do you do all day?

I came up with a metaphorIt’s like you’ve been assigned to keep a pot of water almost-boiling on the stove all day. You need to make sure the pot doesn’t actually boil, so you have to watch it and can’t really do anything else diverting.

I think raising a toddler is a lot like this, especially if he or she has dropped The Nap. You have to watch the toddler all the time to be certain he or she doesn’t start a fire, but any attempts to do other things lead to fires.

Now that I am older and have older (and more) children, the scenario of the pot is still true. On top of that, though; I also need to mop the floor around the stove, allow others to maintain their own pots without interfering too much, snap at them for fighting over shared space around the stove, and squeeze another pan on there for making dinner.

Having been a stay at home mother for the duration of these child-rearing years, I have a question for the parents who work on top of all that:

What do you do all day, and how the heck do you do it??

rawpixel-660721-unsplash

No, You Won’t Get Anything Done Today

I just love reading complaints from non-parents; things like, “My cat loves my keyboard so I can’t type,” or “I forgot to wash my jeans and had to go to work in my dressy pants lol.”

Cat

These three or four sentences took me an hour to write because my children can’t seem to breathe the same air without complaining about air-sharing. And I don’t own dressy pants or a clean pair of jeans for longer than five minutes.

Fight

What’s Important

I read most of a book recently. The author recommended making time for what’s important. Clearly, he posited, if x was something worth fighting for, x should be top priority.

May I be sexist for minute, and say what a guy thing that was to advise?

His quote is just the thing my well-meaning husband would say. My husband would say it while looking up from his phone, while resting on the bed, while also expounding on the virtues of a regular bedtime -while I fold his underwear on the floor.

That was not one of those scenarios I made up to be literary, either.

I love my husband, and he does a lot for our family. Every day, he wins enough bread that (with good financial management) I can housekeep and childraise. But he’s clueless.

dan-gold-544435-unsplash

In order for a mother to “make time,” someone else needs to take over her responsibilities while she’s gone. Otherwise, the careening camper trailer of children will crash. And, mom will have to clean up THAT mess.

Household Fallout like that is another reason why I avoid Me Time. Hours of mitigating tantrums, putting the house to rights, and calming emotional stress is not worth the small break, especially if I know such surprises await me upon my return.

“Make time.”

Whenever I take time to do anything, I feel I have taken it from somewhere else. I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul. Or, I’m skipping reading time with Peter to wash Paul’s soccer uniform. I’ve forgotten the birthday party Peter was invited to so Paul (and Paul’s siblings) could eat dinner.

I rob Peter, Paul, and Mary to pay for …what? A massage? A trip to the bathroom unaccompanied?

Does this mean the most important thing is the mothering? It does. But, if years of mothering slowly wears us down to brittle, bitter remains of happy people, is it really the most important?

anh-nguyen-515149-unsplash

unsplash-logoDan Gold
unsplash-logoAnh Nguyen

Time Zones

“Everybody to the car!”

Despite the regularity with which I yell this phrase, my offspring have yet to respond the way I expect. I think I picture immediate reaction, response, frenzy, and (obviously) obedience. I see myself picking up my purse and walking out to find four smiling boys all buckled and ready to go.

I do not ever call myself an optimist so why do I expect miracles for so many child-related activities, like punctuality?

A helpful fellow parent might lean over to me and advise, “Prepare your children for leaving by calmly telling each when you want to go and what you expect each to accomplish to get there.” She and her one or two child(ren) probably communicate well and skip down hallways filled with sunshine and never end up arriving late to appointments.

My application of this method begins with a patient Chelsea telling my children, one by one, that we are going to the store in ten minutes. I ask them to use the bathroom, get a drink, and apply coverings to their feet. Five minutes later, each receives a warning. One minute to go finds me back at square one. Instead of, “Everybody to the car,” though, my yelling is much like the bedtime mantra: “BATHROOM! SHOES! DRINK! CAR! I’m LEEEEEEAVING!!”

A more realistic friend of mine follows the Leave Them Behind the Way You Threatened To approach. Sure enough, her five-year-old hops to it and gets right in when she asks.

I think I drove off a few times when I had one small child as well. Now that my oldest is twelve, however, he wants to stay behind. Heck, he’ll get free access to computers and food.

I think I’m just stuck following Child Standard Time for the next twenty years. I’d consider petitioning for a specific government zone -but know that, no matter how long they’re given, my children would still be late.

boy-brother-child-13879