What do you do all day?

As a stay at home mom, I get this question a lot. And I never know quite how to answer it.

Because the truth is, really, I have no freakin' idea. None. All I know is that the week goes by in a flash and when I look back and think, "What did I get done all week?" the answer every single time is, pretty much nothing.

Why is that?

And even more recently, since school's been out, it's been even busier. It's 10 o'clock at night right now and I feel like I just put the kids to bed.

They were in bed at 7:30.

I haven't gotten a single thing done since then.

I haven't a clue what I've been doing this whole time.

I've been with myself the whole time. I should know what I've been doing. And I've been busy. But I've nothing to show for it. There is still a pile of laundry waiting to be folded. There are dishes in the sink. Two episodes of Family Guy have just passed and there is a husband snoring on the couch.

What is happening that time is moving but I seem not to be?

Let me analyze my day. Maybe I can be useful with this blog and figure it out.

OK. Here, we are made up of tiny windows. I discussed this briefly when discussing my brief girl weekend staycation. My day is made up of windows of time that are either filed under the "naptime window" or the tiny sections of time between naps. When the day is split up into these tiny windows, one has to prioritize and choose what tasks one has the time to perform within a given window.

The windows usually consist of 2 1/2 to 3 hour increments. But it's never long enough to get any one thing really done because instead of picking one thing, I try to cram a zillion things into each window. Actually that's not entirely true. I start one thing and then like a cat who gets sidetracked by shiny objects, I see something else that needs to be done and start that, forgetting entirely what I was working on before until I pass it on the way to doing something else and then another shiny object appears as if out of nowhere and perhaps maybe the phone rings, and before I know it the kids are up from their second nap and I'm making dinner and putting them to bed (again.) And now, instead of having a few things completed, I have a few more things that are only halfway done!

I've resorted to making lists, but then I get sidetracked somehow from the list...

Either way, it all just seems very tedious and boring on paper (or computer screen), doesn't it? And try explaining all of that to someone who asks you what you do all day. Because all I know is that at the end of the day I am completely wiped.

There is just not one thing that I do. And rarely is there even one substantial thing completed or done for the day. It's not like we sit down as a mom and her two kids to finish that thesis we've been working on...

The day is filled with a million little things like diaper changes and "Go sit on the potty, honey. Willyougositonthepotty? Wewillnotgo to Steven's unlessyougopottyfirst!" times 1,000, minus the accident where there was poo on the floor, plus "CanIhaveasnack -- No you just ate!" multiplied by 100, mulitplied by 500 questions like, "Mommy can you hear my heart? Where is my brain? Does Lightning McQueen have a brain? Do robots have brains? I'm a fireman!" divided by the number of times I empty and refill diaper bags, cups, snack cups and coffee cups, make meals, wash the dishes from those meals, multiplied by errands that I wish I could avoid at 5pm with two hungry children, plus whatever it was that I just slapped myself with my palm on the forehead about because it was really really important, and of course, inevitably, I forgot it.

You'd be amazed at how much time that takes up.

And I really do miss working sometimes, but to be perfectly honest I haven't the faintest idea how I'd fit that in!

And I still have nothing to show for all of it!

(I'm starting to think I have trouble prioritizing...)
So these days, we fill our windows with things like the gym, swim lessons, gymnastics and play dates at the park or at someone's house and we are out of the house so often that I really don't even see that laundry getting put away any time soon.

Because this is the first time I've been home all day other than to make dinner and I am not putting the laundry away with my 30 seconds of solitaryness. (Sorry, honey. But we will move it off your side of the bed and onto the chair next to my side, if that counts for something.)

And honestly as I write this and I think about picking my kids' noses and hugging them in their towels to dry them off after baths and explaining to them where space is and how one might get there, it really isn't that boring. I pretty much love every minute of it. It is very often quite amusing, and very often there is dancing involved. Well, in between some yelling.

I suppose sometimes it's like the movie Groundhog Day and being at home every day could sort of run together like one big day. But on the other hand, I suppose that's why we fill all of our days up with things like play dates and gymnastics and swim lessons and working out. So that I'm not (we're not) stuck in the house all the time doing laundry and washing the floors while they watch drivel on tv and feeling like it's the movie Groundhog Day. Right now our days are kind of like snowflakes; there really aren't two days that are alike and I like it that way. It doesn't matter whether you're staying at home or working or both or whether you're single or a mom or dad, any life could feel like Groundhog Day, right?

So in sum, when someone asks me what the heck I do all day, I still don't have an answer. Except maybe to say, "Everything and nothing. All at the same time." Of course, I could say, "I don't know, but we keep busy."
But I guess I'll just say some variation of, "Oh, a little of this and a little of that..." And then hope and pray that they don't ask me to elaborate.

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  1. Thank you for putting this down on "paper"....isn't it amazing that a whole day/week/month can go by and have nothing to show for it...well, except that the kids are still alive AND growing?

    It's so hard when you only have short windows of time...I don't feel like I can start my day until Laney wakes up from her AM nap, at 11AM. And then I only have from 11-1 to get in lunch and a trip to the store, Target, etc. before the afternoon nap.

    Today was the first day in a LOOONG time where we stayed home all day...I warned my husband what he might encounter when he walked in the door...but I think he was pleasantly surprised...I wasn't TOO bad. I try to get out at least once a day...it makes for much more happy days for *everyone* involved.

    I think I like...'a little of this and a little of that' the best. ;-)

  2. If the house is still standing and the kids are alive, I've done my job :) But I hear ya. It seems like it is impossible to get anything accomplished some times.

  3. Only when you have lived it can you write it so perfectly! I have copied your post and put it in a file for the days when I feel like my days just aren't 'doing anything'! I am fortunate to be beyond the nap phase, but now am to the point where the attention span of the kids is not quite long enough to finish a major project - and it seems like all of my life is full of major projects at the moment!
    SO, from a SAHM for 11 years ... WELL DONE!!

  4. Love this post, it is so true. Though I work I feel like this on the weekend, what did I do today, where did the time fly away to. Thus the busy day of a mom.

  5. Oh, I'm with ChupienJ'sMama: if the kids are still thriving and the house is still standing at the end of the day in spite of those little agents of chaos, it's been a productive day. But sometimes that's hard to see when you're in it..."Groundhog Day" is a good analogy for how the days go sometimes, although it's less so than when they were really little. I know my husband is glad that dance recitals are done, but I liked it (even though it made things reeeally hectic) because it felt more like we accomplished and experienced something other than the usual stuff.

    Speaking from a little further down the parenting road, it does get a bit less physically labor-intensive. Oh, sure, there's still plenty of laundry and stuff to clean, but there's always that. Kids get a bit better at self-care (i.e., you'll be asked for a "check how I did" and it will require no effort on your part than a "good job!" vs. a full bathroom cleaning session).


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