‘But, what do you do all day?’
It is a question that plagues nearly all stay-at-home parents and stems mostly from a place of curiosity but can often be intoned with an undercurrent of accusation, assumption and condescension.
In light of the continuing rise in the cost of living as well as the ongoing fight for equality for women within the workforce, the past thirty or so years has seen an increase in families where both parents work. This has therefore led to a growing stigma associated with the stay-at-home parent and therefore a certain level of self-doubt for the person at home.
Whether it be by choice or for financial reasons, the notion of what it takes to care for small children full time has somehow been lost in translation along the way leading to the common misconception that all we do is all day is sit around sipping tea and watching day time television.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
In reality, the repetition and monotony of spending your day with only small people who can’t really hold a conversation can be extremely isolating at times if you don’t have an adequate support network and the lack of intellectual stimulation can be challenging for many. It is rewarding absolutely but physically, mentally and financially it isn’t for everyone and that’s ok!
So in answer to the above question, what do I do all day with two boys under four years of age? Here it is:
An average day in the life of me as a stay-at-home-mum to two young boys begins at 7am sharp. Neither of the children sleep through and the youngest is particularly bad so I am able to resettle him until 7 thankfully.
7.00am: Startle at the sound of the bedroom door slamming against the wall behind it as Mr 3 stomps in to the room declaring that the day has begun and today he is a dinosaur.
7.02am: Go fetch squawking Mr 1 from his cot where he is standing up and screaming for milk. Change his nappy.
7.05am: Prepare cups of milk for children and switch on ABC Kids so they can watch Go Jetters and PJ Masks while I prepare breakfast.
7.15am: Present children with their requested Vegemite toast cut in to nine squares each with crusts removed.
7.16am: Feed rejected toast to the dog and begin toasting banana bread.
7.20am: Serve banana bread to children in nine squares in Captain America and George Pig bowls respectively.
7.21am: Find additional George Pig bowl and exchange for inferior George Pig bowl.
7.22am: Eat rejected banana bread, give up on the premise of attempted nutrition and offer children yoghurt pouches and tiny teddies.
7.25am: Make instant coffee.
7.30am: Strip sheets off beds and put on a load of washing.
7.35am: Feed dog.
Blah Blah etc Blah. Basically the day will consist of endless toing and froing, toddler demands and forgetting to drink your coffee until it’s cold.
Insert a trip to the park where one or both of the kids will fall face first in to a puddle.
Add in an excursion to the supermarket for milk that will ultimately result in a public meltdown from everyone including yourself and an enthusiastic but irritating person telling you how rundown you look. Oh and then return home, forgetting the milk.
Throw in a craft activity that will inevitably end with a googley eye glued to someone else’s hair, a run away crayon incident on the back of the white shelves, some will-intentioned reading that results in some good old fashioned eye-gouging over a lift the flap book and a game in the backyard where one of the kids steps in dog poo before jumping on the trampoline.
Cook dinner with a one year old either on your hip or holding on to your leg screaming. Neither children will eat what you’ve prepared and will end up having grapes and rice cakes instead.
6.00pm: Bath children and get them in to their pyjama’s.
6.30pm: Put ABC Kids on again so the Giggle and Hoot song will come on to signal bed time for the children.
6.45pm: Realise you forgot about washing and throw it in the dryer. Quickly attempt to make beds.
7.00pm: Children in bed.
They will get up four hundred more times before morning and you will start it all again.
Essentially in a day I manage to both run myself ragged whilst not really accomplishing a lot BUT I get to spend all day with my kids, who are the single most crazy-making yet amazing people I know so I still get up with a smile on my face, grateful to be with them each day.
Whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home-parent or a combination of the two, you can only make the best decision you know how to make and your children will thrive because of it.
It can be easy to second guess yourself or assume that the grass is greener on the other side but really we’re all just trying to do the best we can and I am eternally thankful to be able to have this time with my little ones where others aren’t so fortunate.
Still, I wouldn’t say no to some tea and day time television…
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