When I was working, I often used to think about stay at home mums and wonder what on Earth they did all day. I imagined it was countless coffee mornings and baby yoga sessions, and although I thought it could be quite a dull existence, I often envied those mums who got to spend all their time with their children. Now I am one of those mums – well, for a time anyway. I am not a forever SAHM, but I am on a career break following a year off on maternity leave, and am now 17 months into a 2-year break from my job. And in my new role I have gained more than enough experience to know exactly what SAHM’s do all day, and it varies from minute to minute and day to day.
Mostly I consider myself lucky. Lucky to have my daughter here to share the time with (see previous blogs tagged Kawasaki Disease if you are not familiar with my daughter’s story), and to be able to share so many precious times with her. It’s also nice to be able to take the other children to school, and to be here when they come home, cook a meal, do ‘normal’ family stuff. One of the huge positives for me is that I pretty much always have a clean and tidy house, and I have never been on top of the laundry so much in my entire life to date! Boring, I know, but I have a child who sleeps for three hours in the day so I have to keep myself occupied (although I will confess, I have been known to spray some polish into the air and watch a movie or two!).
Yesterday was a pretty nothing kind of day. The weather forecast suggested it would rain so I had already decided it would be an indoors day (much to my annoyance, given that we spent all last week on house arrest with my youngest whilst she battled chicken pox, hand, foot and mouth, or both!) Oh, joy!
So, here is what this SAHM did all day yesterday…
07:01 Text oldest daughter “What time do you get up?”
07:05 Text received “Now”. Well that’s that sorted! The parental heaven that is a 12- year old that can quite easily manage herself in the mornings.
07:10 Screaming of the house alarm! Eldest has remembered to let the dog out, but has forgotten to unset the house alarm before opening the back door. Again. For the millionth time since we got the puppy! Baby stirs, lay as stiff as a board with teeth clenched, hoping for the chance to hit the snooze button!
07:40 Wake middle child (cue “I don’t want to get up!”, “I’m still tired!”, “I hate school!” or any combination of the three). Manage to cajole him out of bed to get dressed (again to complaints that this isn’t the order he likes to do things in – he prefers to eat breakfast in his pyjamas, aka pants, but I want him organised as soon as possible!). Go downstairs, feed the dog, make breakfast for the awkward one and prepare packed lunch.
08:00 Wake baby up. She greets me as always with a huge cheeky smile – the only one of the family who seems to be happy to be awake! But then she did go to sleep 14 hours ago so I guess she’s all done with sleep! In the interests of being organised, today I get her dressed before breakfast and vow to be extra careful with the Weetabix!
08:30 Leave for the school run. Although it’s only just under a mile and a half we drive, because quite frankly we would have to be up far too early to get there on foot with my son. In my defence, I do sometimes leave the car at school and walk home, returning on foot at pick-up time to get some daily exercise, but only on dry days or when I can be bothered!
09:00 Get home from the school run and make a cup of tea. I made a decision yesterday that Freya needed more stimulation, and vowed to spend at least an hour per day in some kind of valuable developmental pursuit. Got the painting stuff out and proceeded to paint at the kitchen table (or in Freya’s case, ON the kitchen table!). Good job this stuff is washable! She was bored after about 30 minutes – ok, ok, so it was me who was bored! I think she would have painted all day long if I had let her! But she’d managed to paint about 5 masterpieces using mainly her hands and the wrong end of a paintbrush, so I figured that was enough. Took photographs of said masterpieces and posted on Instagram to show world just how good I am at this mummy stuff (I’ve got to love Social Media for allowing me to share all these perfect, wonderful moments. Not sure the world is ready for the screaming banshee selfie!)
09:30 Bribe youngest with a biscuit to allow some sofa time and a bit of The Wright Stuff. Email Immunologist to ask for advice regarding the postponement of Freya’s MMR vaccination.
09:40 Check e-mail. No reply. Eat half a packet of Rich Tea biscuits with a cup of coffee. I don’t even like Rich Tea biscuits!
10:00 Check e-mail. No reply. Anyone would think this doctor is busy….
10:20 Google “What to do with a toddler all day long.” Roll eyes at Netmums.
10:30 On first sign of tiredness, make up small bottle of milk (I know it’s a bad habit that I need to stop!) and put Freya in her cot for a nap.
10:42 Check e-mail. Still no reply. Consider phoning the hospital but decide to leave it until tomorrow. Very reasonable of me, I thought.
11:00 Through the baby monitor – “Mummyyyyyyyyyy”. Half an hour isn’t enough for a nap, so I speak into the monitor, “Go to sleep!”. And she does. For another two hours!
11:10 Google “What to do all day when your toddler sleeps for hours”. Limited resources available on this topic. Eventually give up before I risk finding something I should be doing.
11:30 Settle down on the sofa with the puppy on my lap, and watch daytime TV – namely This Morning (got to love a bit of Phil and Holly) and Loose Women. Check Facebook (ok, I don’t think this was the first time I did that, but you can make the assumption that I check it every 5 minutes and save me writing every time down!).
13:00 A boring and uneventful day is broken up by a momentous happening – the postman arrives with mail!! Ooh yay! Excitement! Except for the fact that the mail seems to be a rock in an envelope and makes such a thud that it wakes the baby up. Damned postman! And to add insult to injury it is a Jojo Maman Bebe catalogue, sent by a company who clearly have no idea how skint this SAHM is!
13:05 Discard catalogue in bin, and get baby up. Change nappy (as with checking FB, please note this isn’t the first, or last, nappy change of the day).
What to make for lunch….
13:10 Decide to make omelette for lunch. Whatever I make it will end up being a race against time to catch it before it hits the floor and the eagerly awaiting puppy. I make sure she sees me cutting the cheese (“eeeese”, her favourite) and ham, (“am”, another favourite) in the vain hope that this might make the eating of the finished article more likely. At the last moment before pouring the mixture into the frying pan I am struck with the notion that Freya may be more likely to eat the omelette if it is presented in a novel way. Out come the pastry cutters; a star, a circle and a car. She is sure to eat omelette if it comes in quirky shapes, right? Well, don’t bother trying it at home. The mixture leaked out from underneath the cutters and by the time I had prized the cooked omelette out from the metal objects I was faced with nothing more than a heap of omelette. I served up the omelette (“Urgh” <chuck>) with some sticks of red pepper (“Urgh” <chuck>), some cucumber slices (“Urgh” <chuck>), and four little squares of cheese (“Mmmm eeeeese!”). On the third scream of “DOWN!!!” I took my little angel out of her highchair proud in the knowledge that after all that effort, the darling ate four fingernail-sized pieces of cheese. Groan!
14:00 Determined not to be put off by the epic fail of lunch, start to prepare vegetables for batch cooking of spaghetti bolognaise/cottage pie. Cut vegetables with one leg firmly planted against the drawers to discourage attention-seeking daughter from removing all kitchen utensils and feeding them to the dog.
14:30 Chastise baby for pulling books from the bookcase and tearing yet another cover. How is it that the bookcase has survived two children, and I now find myself blessed with a destroyer of one of my most prized possessions? Baby looks sorry, so I forgive her.
14:35 Chastise baby for pulling books from the bookcase and tearing yet another cover. Replace books and repeat 58million times.
15:15 Bundle daughter into car and drive to school to pick up middle child. He’s had a good day (“100%” – my son provides his evaluation of the school day in terms of percentages). Remember one of my favourite movies – Rain Man.
15:40 Chatting with a mum outside the school gates ends in tears when Freya’s ‘unkind hands’ scratch the face of the little boy who is trying to be nice. Make swift exit. Must send mum a message when I get home to apologise for toddler’s assault.
15:55 “Can I play on Minecraft?” Most uttered sentence in middle child’s vocabulary.
16:00 Text mum to apologise for toddler’s assault.
16:30 Dish up lovingly prepared spaghetti bolognaise. Wonder how much will end up on the floor. “Not again!” (Son’s affectionate response to being served pasta). Surprised when youngest wolfs down an entire bowl of pasta and half a dozen pieces of bread. Remember lunch. Consider skipping lunch in future…
17:00 Clear away dishes. Make tea for mother-in-law. Sit and drink tea safe in the knowledge that there is now a second pair of adult hands in the house! Chastise baby for pulling books from the bookcase and tearing yet another cover….
17:30 Bath baby, pyjamas on, milk.
18:00 Put baby to bed. Aaaaaand relax.
After that things are pretty easy. Another hour before middle child is off to bed. Dinner. Eldest takes herself off to bed at some point during the evening. Watch Cold Feet. Go to bed.
And that’s about it. In fairness, I try to avoid days like these, but with money fast running out I don’t have many options on rainy days. Being a SAHM is a constant mix of emotions. I’m lucky and glad, and lonely and sad all at once. I would not change the opportunity I have to stay at home with my daughter, and I am lucky that she likes to have a long nap in the daytime, leaving me some free time to do whatever I choose. Problem is, I get so bored of my own company whilst she is sleeping and it often makes me feel a bit miserable. Right now, the house is silent but for the hum of the baby monitor beside me; Freya’s nap was a little late today on account of us making it out of the house this morning for a visit to the local wildlife park. In about 10 minutes I will have to wake her up to take her on the school run.
Today was a different kind of day, with a lovely (if wet) trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park for a couple of hours this morning. The weather forecast was wrong though, and we got completely drenched. Freya seemed freaked out by the rain dripping on her, and as a result I had to carry her around the entire Park! As an annual pass holder, entrance was free – result! Except for the amazing sweet shop on the way out where I spent more than the ticket price on Pick ‘n’ Mix and nougat! Doh!
With Autumn approaching, and Winter just around the corner, I need to have a serious think about how we are going to spend our days. And I need something to pass the time whilst my daughter sleeps every day. All suggestions welcome!