Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So what do I do all day?

Mr. Love Bird likes to ask the title question which I think is quite interesting as he was home with me and Nia for the first 3 1/2 months of her life, but in case anyone else is wondering too I wanted to break it down and share a couple articles (and my commentary!) on the issue:

If you've read my monthly baby updates about Nia's schedule, you'll know it's not completely solidified yet. I have a general sense of when she wakes for the day and naps, but because I feed her on demand things are quite loose with us. I have no problems with this as it is but 1 year of her life and in the grand scheme of things it's a little sliver in time. Additionally, I really love the bonding that breastfeeding provides. Now that she's getting older she'll stop feeding to look up at me and smile, coo and even uses her fat little hand to grab my face and lovingly pat my cheek although sometimes she goes in for my glasses to rip them from my face!

Anyway, most of my day is spent interacting with Nia. I play with her, read to her, dance with her, wear her while I clean up and I talk to her constantly. I do give her some alone time to play in her crib and on her playmat too. During those times is when I eat blog, job search or do cleaning jobs I can't do while I wear her. Very rarely will I turn on the TV; when I do it's during her afternoon feeding and it's to watch the Food Network, which we somehow get for free. In the afternoon Giada and Ina are a nice break!

During the day we occasionally get visitors too and sometimes I take Nia out and about in the city. I meet friends for coffee and lunch and Nia loves to come along, but for the most part we're home all day.

Our day starts at 6, when Mr. Love Bird gets up. Sometimes Nia will wake when she hears him get up. We haven't regularly put her in her crib overnight and if we do she usually wants a feeding around 4 or 5 a.m. so I bring her into bed with me. If Nia doesn't get up at 6 then by 8 or 9 she's up and I get up with her. We play until about 10 when she goes down for her first nap but sometimes, like today, she skips it and doesn't go down until sometime between 12-1p.m. She eats off and on during the day too. By 2p.m. she'll nap again if she's napped at 10a.m. if not she'll want to nap at 5p.m. which doesn't help bedtime. If she naps 2x we can get her in bed by 9, but if she naps 1x we can get her in bed by 11. We're working to change this and I know sleeping through the night in her own crib is key.

Anyway, so that's how our day goes. She's awake most of the day and we're constantly interacting.

The Washington Post had a great article which answered a reader's same question about what do SAHM's do all day. You can find the full article here, but here's an excerpt:

I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done.

{ha, ha! this is quite funny! now take a look at the response . . .}

Since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.


Now granted I don't have more than one child, and I admit it's not rocket science, but being with Nia all day is time consuming. Babies are needy, what more is there to expect? What's troubling about the reader's question is that it reeks of mompetition. SAHM vs. WOHM. Can't. Stand. It. Both jobs are challenging but there's no need to compare. We all make our own choices then it's up to us individually to deal with the consequences regardless of how hard they might be.

Which brings me to this . . .

The male take on what SAHM's do all day. Men's Health compiled a list of Intolerable Behavior for Women. Some of the items on the list made me laugh like, "It's just a spider, for Pete's sake. Step on it," but this one didn't:

"Forget the notion that raising kids is harder than maintaining gainful employment. More important? Yes. But harder? No."

Oh boy! I shared the list with Mr. Love Bird, and he pointed that out to me and said, "Yes!" I didn't want to end the night in a bloodbath so I left it alone, but it's my belief that both are important and hard jobs in their own way. I also think it becomes harder the more kids you have, but it also depends on how much support you have. Maybe moms wouldn't think their jobs were harder if dads offered more support. {I'm not talking about my own husband here, just the general dad population!}

Until a genetically born male gives birth it's my belief that there will always be a divide between men and women in understanding the challenges of motherhood. As fellow blogger Teresha at Marlie and Me wrote, "Did you know that men start the day wondering what things they can avoid doing while women start the day wondering what things they can accomplish?" I agree wholeheartedly. I start each day with so many aspirations that have to be carried over to the next day, and if I can't accomplish them I don't get too down about it. There's only so much I can do.

As I've said before I really don't like labels, but for now I'm happy to be a SAHM, but I hope to be a WAHM, which I believe will happen this year.


  1. Too funny!!! My mom always told me it's never 50/50 when it comes to children. I didn't appreciate what she was saying until Christen came along. We saved enough money for me to stay home for 6 months and it was great. However, the only downfall was I felt totally taken for granted. My mother also told me that even though I was still home, I needed to get up and get dressed like I had somewhere to go and get Christen dressed as well. She helped me menu plan, so I had dinner cooked everyday he came home and his closed washed. The house stayed clean and Christen was happy and given much attention. Even after all that, my husband had the nerve to ask the same question, "What did you do all day?" I was like I can show you better than I can tell you!!!..When I went back to work, it took a year really for me to adjust. Meaning, all I could do is go to work and come home. I didn't start back working back in the church until Christen was two. The house wasn’t as clean, the dinners were less frequent and I could only stay on top of Christen's laundry. I asked him if he wished I was home and he said, "Nah, you needed a break." I thought that was considerate, but I would have loved to stay home with her until she was at least one.

  2. That article response was hilarious. I guess you would have to spend a day being a SAHM to understand. Just today I looked up and it was 4. The televison wasn't on, I had cleaned, done laundry and chased after baby ALL DAY since she is starting to crawl now and I looked up and it was time to pick up my son from school.

    Having two children is definitely hard. My husband like yours is very helpful but when I am here with them by myself until he gets home..OMG! Honestly some days I would rather be in an office.

  3. Hi Quiana,
    Neither Rebecca nor I have kids (yet) but I will offer that I don't think anyone should expect you to provide a rationale for what you do with your time/at home with your daughter. It seems to me that she's really lucky to have a mom whose nurturing presence is a constant in her life; she's got you interacting with her and talking to her - I can only imagine the vocabularly she will have in no time! I hope to be able to spend that kind of quality time with my child(ren) when she/he/they come along :-) ~ Rachel