WHITNEY: What do you do all day?
If you had to, you probably couldn’t keep an hour-by-hour account of how you spend (or waste) your time each day. If you’re like me, somebody might ask you what you did yesterday and you’d mumble out something like, “Uh… I know I ate… something?”
But when you’re a stay-at-home mom, people expect an answer to that question. “What do you do all day?” is a prompt to justify yourself. “What do you do all day?” is a trap. Unless you can rattle off a list of ultra-productive chores and child-enriching activities that the asker imagines they’d do if they had all your free time, you’re gonna get a side-eyed glance and some version of “Oh, that’s nice,” as a reply.
So I’m attempting the impossible here. I’m going to give you a play-by-play of an average Tuesday for us, and I’m going to be as honest as I can be.
7:30 a.m. (8 a.m. if I’m lucky) — Wake up, grab child who’s shouting “AWAKE!” across the hall, turn on PBS Kids, brew coffee, stare unblinkingly as the coffee drips into carafe and Curious George ruins something for someone.
8:30 a.m. — Offer breakfast to Olivia, who will refuse to eat.
9 a.m. — Get both of us dressed. Getting every arm and leg into a garment, every tooth brushed and every hair combed sometimes takes a full hour, especially if we leave time for jumping on the bed.
10 a.m. — Head to Women’s Information Services Inc. (WISE) administrative office in downtown Big Rapids, where I volunteer. (If you want to join me, email me at email@example.com!) Olivia plays with toys while I do stuff. The dollhouse is her favorite.
12 p.m. — Eat lunch without Olivia, who is still refusing to eat.
12:30 p.m. — Go outside and swing, or pull weeds and pick peas in the garden, or walk to the creek. I follow her lead.
2 p.m. — Naptime! Praise Jesus.
2:15 p.m. — Anything goes! Depending on the day, I might prep dinner for later, do some writing, make some phone calls, clean something or finish one of the too-many house projects I have going at once. No rest for the wicked.
4 p.m. — Have an after-nap snack. Make blankets and pillows out of Play-Doh for Olivia’s little horses and dinosaurs. Make a bubble bath in a giant salad bowl for the horses and dinosaurs. Paint something. Maybe watch some YouTube videos on TV or go back outside. Whatever. More following her lead.
5 p.m. — Dad is home. Let’s go hug him!
5:30 p.m. — Head to our neighbors’ house for our weekly Tuesday Night Supper Club meeting. Eat, play and laugh until we feel sleepy.
8 p.m. — Come home, get jammies on, read 132 books before bed.
9 p.m. — Struggle through bedtime. Make crib-side negotiations and bribes while one of us cries.
10 p.m. — Is she asleep? Can I sit down and talk to my husband now? Oh, he needs to go to bed? Well, I guess I’ll just watch Louie and contemplate the disaster that is parenthood, but ultimately feel comforted in knowing I’m not fighting the good fight alone.
So that’s it. That’s what I do all day sometimes. Some days there are play dates, gymnastics, or concerts in the park. We also take Skype calls from Grandpa and do the laundry, grocery shopping and mopping that keeps the household running. There also are days when we watch too much TV, or days when we create some really cool projects.
This was just one day I decided to document. So let me ask you: What do YOU do all day?
Whitney Gronski-Buffa is the Pioneer’s parenting columnist. After four years reporting and editing at the paper, she’s stepped back to spend more time with her family. Read more here each week and reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.