What stay-at-home moms REALLY do all day

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Sometimes when my husband (sweetly) asks what I did all day, a Bridget Jones-like voice pops into my head and starts to narrate the beautiful chaos that is stay-at-home motherhood. She sounds something like this:

4:45 a.m.: Gaaaaaah! Baby howling somewhere in house. But which one: 14-month-old in crib, or 2-year-old in toddler bed? Perhaps husband should find out.

Kick husband.

No response.

Kick husband harder.

Husband rolls away.

Give up, get out of bed, wake up enough to realize screaming is coming from 14-month-old (Baby). Stagger around nursery looking for missing pacifier. Step on pacifier. Howl louder than Baby. Stagger back to bed.

6:45: Alarm rings. Ha! Laugh before turning it off.

7:20: Gaaaaaah! Kindergartner standing above bed, two inches from face. Has not come to present award for general excellence in motherhood. Rather, wants to know what iPad password is.

7:35: Treadmill. Way too hard. Must really stop with all the sugar and caffeine. Ummmm … sugar and caffeine. Run, sing along to Pandora Internet Radio, wonder why Miley Cyrus is breaking walls like a rainbow. Find odd. Twice interrupted by Kindergartner, airing iPad-related grievances.

8:05: Confiscate iPad, hide it in closet. Wake up Baby and 2-year-old. Fix breakfast, check homework, have brief argument about whether or not two oldest boys can wear shorts when temp is below 30 (no). Send boys to clean room. Cartoons for 2-year-old. Shower, with Baby holding onto legs.

9:20: Drop oldest son off at school five minutes late (right on time).

10: “What Not to Wear” showdown with 2-year-old daughter, who is no longer a ballerina, nor a princess, but a “Fashion Combination.” Unsure as to exact meaning of title, but think it involves dumping every item from drawers in middle of night. Give up, allow Fashion Combination to dress herself in unseasonal pink ballerina tutu.

10:15: Gaaaaaah! Baby has crawled away during showdown. Is OK. Have baby-proofed house top to bottom. Start checking bathrooms. Baby loves toilets.

10:16: Found Baby, who found (unused) “fly stick” hidden in back of pantry. Is horrible, sticky contraption filled with glue meant to catch insects. Baby covered in glue. Mom covered in glue.

 10:19: Tearful call to fly stick manufacturer’s headquarters to make sure glue is nontoxic (yes) and am still considered adequate mother (no comment).

12:40 p.m.: Drop Kindergartner off for school five minutes late (right on time). Kindergartner’s face is stained with ketchup, and Kindergartner is wearing same shirt as yesterday. Wonder if teacher notices such things. Pray she is too busy worrying about the spread of head lice and Utah’s swelling class sizes to keep track of certain student’s reprehensible hygiene habits.

1:50: Stars, sun and moon have aligned and Baby and Fashion Combination are both napping. Happy, happy day!

Settle down at computer to finish freelance article. But first will just check Facebook. Despair at number of friends relaxing on tropical beaches. Is everyone in Hawaii? Will unfriend all such individuals. Will keep only friends posting pictures of Diet Dr. Pepper or cats. Ummmm … Diet Dr. Pepper. Have not eaten today, except granola crumbs under Baby’s high chair (am disgusting human garbage disposal).

1:55: Will just make lunch. Will make healthy lunch to set good example for darling children. Will eat yogurt, and edamame … and … and … frosting straight from tub.

1:56: Gaaaaaah! Baby crying. Never mind.

3:40: Boys home from school. Best part of day. Listen to Elementary School Narratives while dispensing snacks. Did teacher really tell 8-year-old he is the second smartest kid in the class?

Begin folding clothes from Laundry Pit of Despair. Hate, hate, laundry. Is stupid chore. Resolve to let kindergartner wear same clothes every day.

4:30: Remember family eats dinner.  Remember was supposed to make said dinner in Crock-Pot this morning. Open fridge. Can make chicken soft tacos to disguise scary leftovers and trick offspring/husband into eating them. Am brilliant, happy homemaker.

4:55: Happy, happy day! Husband home almost two hours early! Cannot believe good fortune.

Except … husband mumbles something about Webelos and dashes back out the door. Is such a tease. What even is a Webelo? Is not a real thing. Consider cleaning up house for darling children to admire. But then remember am not crazy.

7: Boys off to wrestling (Kindergartener) and basketball (8-year-old).  Try to read book to Baby and Fashion Combination. Baby rips book, won’t sit in lap. Start silent countdown to bedtime.

8:30: Family scripture study. Boys wrestling each other. Fashion Combination giving herself villain moustache with red lip gloss. Husband plows on. Say prayers, brush teeth, dispense stories and snuggles. Mother heart swells. Cannot believe amount of love have for beautiful, perfect angel children, especially when beautiful, perfect angel children are going to bed.

9 p.m.: Happy, happy day! Kids asleep.

9:01: Nope.

9:02: Give drinks of water, tuck Kindergartner back into bed, threaten to turn off Fashion Combination’s night light if she doesn’t go to sleep. Rethink opinion of children: May actually be spawn of Satan.

9:30: Kids really asleep. Happy, happy day! Free, free at last! Should clean kitchen, but prefer to soak in bathtub reading murder mystery about mom who solves crimes at naptime. Realize have overlooked crime solving as possible career. Surely it pays better than journalism? Will just add to “to-do” list.

10 p.m.: “So what did you do today?” sweetly asks Dear Husband, man whose “work” consists of alarming amount of golf and business lunches.

Where, oh where, to begin …

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

33 Comments

  1. John Reply

    It’s sad that this article doesn’t take anything into consideration that might possibly indicate the level of sacrifice “dear husband” makes.

    Dear husband is likely shaved showered and out the door before 6am (like I am) and as you indicated doesn’t return home til after 7 nightly (like many don’t). The unfortunate lack of perspective you’re suffering from fails to consider that his “work” as you call it might seem like fun and games and may truly be that way some times, however one missed word, one wrong move, results in a lost client and that lost client results in poor performance added stress and less money for the household. Your ability to stay home is entirely predicated on the simple fact that your “dear husband” performs his job well. This means he does his job and you do yours. It’s a job. No doubt about it. You work hard. He works hard. You go to parks and zoos and I’m sure you have tons of fun as well.

    Perspective is everything. Maybe I should write an opposing article just to counter this one…

    1. Mike Reply

      Dear John,

      You have entirely missed the point if this article. Please read again, this time with your wife, which I assume you have due to the nature of your comments. You clearly need a little less stress in your life so that you can find a way out of the center of your universe. I hope you can find joy in all of the little daily things that this writer is so clearly pointing out. 🙂 Have a nice day.

    2. Elyssa Andrus Post author Reply

      John, Dear Husband works crazy long hours, and I hope he knows how much I appreciate it. I have to tease him when he complains about having to go out to lunch AGAIN for work, but the truth is I wouldn’t switch places with him. I’d love to read your opposing article (you can even post it directly in comments here). I bet it would be great!

    3. Ellen Reply

      We stay-at-home-moms complain too much. Truth is, good husbands do a whole heck a lot and that can still be acknowledged in an article about the demands of motherhood without mocking or minimizing what they do. My Dearest Most Wonderful Husband would NEVER want my job….and I would never want his. He wakes at 4am, has a long commute, deals with a demanding boss, stressful deadlines and massive projects, then comes home late. And guess what? He walks in, smiles and kisses me and is immediately helping get dinner to the table, does dishes, helps kids with homework and put them to bed. THEN he makes sure I have “me” time at the gym, taking a bubble bath or going to the store *GASP* by myself. THEN he usually has more work to do at home, sometimes past midnight….only to wake at 4am and do it all again. I would never kick my husband awake when the baby cries in the night or our toddler wets the bed or one of the older kids has a nightmare or the teenager has insomnia. He is the provider and makes my job possible. That is no small thing. Sure, being a stay-at-home-mom can be lonely and mundane and stressful, but it’s not like our husbands have it easy. On top of work, they have US to deal with!! Poor guys..lol. I’m annoyed by the quotes around your husband’s “work.” My husband might go out to lunch with his team or take a break from work to jog through the city….good for him!! He works his butt off both at work and at home. C’mon moms….we aren’t working 24/7 like the martyrs we think we are. We spend time on Facebook and Pinterest. We have playdates. We play mindless games on our phones. We indulge in books and reality shows and trips to Target. Why does it seem like moms think they deserve time to de-stress but not husbands? It’s not a competition. This really is a self-centered article. I would love to hear the husband version of that same day.

    4. Amy joy Reply

      My husband emailed this to me. Glad we are both funny and that he doesn’t give me a hard time about being too much like this article.

  2. Lori Reply

    John – It’s sad that you thought this article was about who makes the most sacrifice. The point wasn’t that she sacrifices more or he sacrifices more, but that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in a mom’s life that a lot of people (yes, even husbands) don’t realize. And if a mom can look at it with a bit of humor, more power to her! This was absolutely not about the husband, and it’s too bad that you chose to take it personally.

  3. Jennifer Reply

    Ha ha, John actually thinks going to the zoo and parks are fun, I’m sure she could write a whole other post just on a trip to the zoo with that many kids, and how “fun” it is. Don’t get me wrong I love to take my kids places just to see the looks on their faces when they see something new. But it is soooo much more work than fun. What moms would really love every once and awhile is a day off from everything, cleaning, babysitting, bills, and just get to be a “real” person. I think dad’s forget that being a mom is 24/7 we never get a day or and hour off. We can’t go shopping even for a run without making arrangements for our kids. I appreciate what my husband does, I wouldn’t trade him places for the world. But he does get time off and he gets to go fishing all day Saturday without having to think about anything except what kind of bait to use…. not that I want to go fishing that sounds boring. I get your point we need to appreciate each other more. But for some reason stay at home mom’s seem to get the short end of that stick most of the time.

  4. Dear Husband Reply

    My sweet wife is an amazing mother and wife. She has an outstanding education and a work ethic that could put anyone to shame. She sacrifices her career, her free time and her hobbies to take my wild boys to wrestling and basketball practice and to make me sandwiches. While I probably do work just a little bit harder than what she thinks I in no way think her job is easy. We both have jobs to do and they are both hard and rewarding, just different. When i hear how many diapers she has changed in a day or if i end up with the kids all day on Saturday i realize how motherhood is one of the hardest jobs there is and i am so glad i married the woman i did.

    1. Dear Husband Reply

      I probably didn’t make myself clear enough when I wrote this, I am Elyssa’s husband. She really appreciates how hard I work and I know and appreciate how hard she works.

  5. Lisa Reply

    I am sitting holding sleeping baby so I can relax and read this. Then I read about eating crumbs from under baby’s high chair. Having had 3 children, I am completely convinced this mom needs a break. Yuck!

  6. NaDell Reply

    I am a SAHM and am offended if people actually think this is what SAHMs do.
    The only way my child would wear the same shirt as the previous day is if I did laundry the night before and it was folded and back in their drawer (which happens a few times a week.)
    Eating crumbs from the floor? Disgusting. I don’t eat anything off my kid’s plates. That’s gross.
    I have four kids and do NOT relate to this one bit. Manage your time better. Happiness, health, and home are a priority. Treat it like that.
    And please, attempt to not make us look like stupid teenage babysitters who can’t manage a household.

    1. JJ Reply

      Honestly. People are all different in how they mother. I relate to some of this and other stuff I don’t, but to degrade this writer as a stupid teenage babysitter is not called for. Yes, managing time helps but you may never know what the other person is going through. Everyone is different Especially in parenting. This article shows SAHM in her eyes and what she goes through. Good for you to not have any of these challenges, everyone is different, it’s your choice to take offense to this but I believe it was made to be fun.

    2. Laura Reply

      Just because your amazing at managing your time (yay for you!) doesn’t mean everyone is. The article is VERY obviously a joke and pokes at the silly things moms go through on a daily basis. There’s really no need to make this mommy feel bad because she doesn’t live up to YOUR standards. I only have one baby and it’s hard for me some days! This woman is a saint for working so hard! And her kids seem happy, as SAHM’S and women in general we should stop being so damn judgemental and help and support each other! It’s really just ignorant to think that everyone’s home is, and should be just like yours.

  7. Shelly Reply

    So you do everything a working mother also does in less time. Sleeping until almost 7:00…unheard of in my house. I get up at 4:30 to get my house clean and exercise before the kids get up. Then i get them to school on time, not 5 minutes late. And after work it’s dinner, homework and play time. If you think being a stay at home mom is hard, try being a working mother who does all the same stuff as a SAHM plus works 8 hours a day.

    1. RMM Reply

      Why do you feel the need to convince us that your life is harder than someone else’s? There is certainly someone who has life harder than you.

  8. Kathryn Gowers Reply

    As a stay at home mother I am definitely not ok with the degradation of the working father in this article. I couldn’t agree more with John. My husband leaves the house at 4:30 and doesn’t return until 5:30. I know he would much rather stay in bed with me and the baby until 8am and go to the aquarium with us for the day but he never complains and never fails to support his family. He would never write an article demeaning my role as a mother and the large number of lunch dates I have. I know my job is hard and demanding but so is his. Let’s try to support our husbands the way they support us. Perhaps a question like “what did you do today?” is just a question, not a judgment.

  9. Cyndi Reply

    Thank you for writing this article! It made me laugh as I ate my leftovers for lunch awith my 3 yr old who is still in his pj’s at noon. I was cleaning my house this morning which took me 3 hrs to clean and will take my darlings 5 minutes to mess up after school – it’s nice to know that there are other mom’s out there like me and mom’s who have so completely perfected their schedules I have someone to look up to. I always laugh at how sensitive a subject this seems to be. I am grateful for the chaos 5 kids bring into my life – it makes life way more fun! Wearing the same shirt 2 days in a row is not going to kill them. I do it all the time 🙂 – my dear husband and I always joke about how “easy” the other one has it. I’m a little jealous that he gets to wear suits and I don’t own anything that needs to be dry cleaned because at this stage in my life that would be ridiculous . We joke about how moms get to go on fun outings all day and how husbands golf and have lunches all day. Just like the above scenario isn’t an every day occurrence – we all have our good days and bad days- never compare your best to someone else’s worst- it’s unfair! I love your sense of humor Elyssa- thanks for making me laugh today and find the joy and laughter in the craziness of motherhood!

  10. JJ Reply

    I think this read was meant to be a fun read. It doesn’t matter if your a stay at home mom or dad, kids are tough but rewarding. I don’t think it is fair to compare jobs with your spouse, if you look at both sides you are both contributing to better your family if it’s in the house, outside, or both. We are all different especially when it comes to parenting, enjoy life, be humble about your job. I am very similar to this mother, but like me, I think she respects her husband and all that he does. It is was makes a family work, and if there is comparing all the time within the family most likely there is a lot of arguing/disagreement. Take it how you want but to me this article was fun to read.

  11. TW Reply

    I read this article, read the comments, and now I am sitting here pondering what to even respond. First of all, I do believe we are all doing the very best we can. Moms, Dads,working, stay at home, combination. It is absolutely not our place to judge how one parent spends their time. Reading this article put a smile on my face because irfor me, I can relate! I am a SAHM of 4 kids 12 and under and I also watch my niece and nephew. My entire day from 7am to 9pm is devoted to the care, clean up, well being, transportation, health, punctuality of 6 children and a household. If I’m only 5 minutes late, gosh, I feel pretty good too. Most days my lunch is the kids left over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or the day old protein bar in my gym bag. You could argue that I dont manage my time well enough, which I will not argue that, but for me, and I assume the writer of this article, we are doing our best to take care of others…it is just that “season” in our lives. Our houses dont look perfect, ours kids dont look like they are ready for photo shoots, and they eat McDonalds probably more times than I care to admit, but they are healthy, happy, loved and cared for by parents who are Caring more about their well being then anything else. That means Dad gets up to go to the gym at 5:30am just so he can “relieve” mom and be with the kids at 5:30pm. A Mom who may have sacrificed her career and alone time for sleepness nights and snotty noses. But I would bet if you asked each one of you that have written here today if you would trade your kiddos for anything on the world, I would venture to guess the answer is no. So instead of attacking some one else’s parenting style or decisions, let’s just all appreciate that parenting is extremely demanding- albeit not that rewarding at times-job.

  12. Emily Reply

    I didn’t get the same vibe from this article as many seem to. It was simply a humorous approach to answer the question of “What do you do all day.” Too many people – men and women alike – seem to think SAHM’s sit around watching TV and eating bon-bons all day (what is a bon-bon anyway?). So much of our work is not quantifiable. How important is it to sit and read a book with a child? Very! Yet how does that “sound” on a To-Do list? Sure we do laundry and cook and clean and run kids around, but we also have a million distractions that make each task take 3x as long. We all have different challenges, but some days it does feel a little like the article described despite my best efforts to be organized (and I am very organized).

    As for the part about men–I think it was meant to sound ridiculous . . . just as ridiculous as a SAHM relaxing and playing all day with no cares. Try not to see this article at it’s face value; insert your own challenges and you may see the irony and humor in it. Now excuse me, I need to get back to scrubbing bathrooms, picking up endless toys, making sure the baby really goes to sleep for his nap this time, cleaning up my kids’ lunch (happens to be cereal today), and helping my daughter with her homework…simultaneously.

    1. Becky Reply

      THANK YOU!! I saw this article as humorous and something to make us smile bc no matter what, or how hard we try, stay at home moms, stay at home dads or working parents have days where you feel pretty darn good the kids didn’t die that day. If you’re taking offense at this it’s bc you chose to and not bc someone pointed a finger and declared you incompetent or lazy.

  13. Denita Reply

    When asked “that” question I always think “Not enough, yet way too much!” It’s ironic that we SAHMs can feel like we are never doing enough yet we are overwhelmed by everything we must do. Either way, it’s the hardest-easiest-best-and-worst job ever.

  14. Csrn Reply

    I loved this article. I related to many of the things you wrote about. There is definite joy and humor in being a mother. I do think it’s sad and doesn’t say very much about those that feel the need to tear the article, writer, and each other apart. It is usually those that don’t feel very positive about themselves that feel this need. Again, well done and I’m grateful for your honesty here. Motherhood is a tiresome, rewarding, never ending job….and don’t get me started on that laundry… Never ending…

  15. Jamie Reply

    Thank you for this article it made me laugh! It’s so nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one with kids wearing the same thing 2 days in a row or being late for school. I will never understand why people have to be so rude and negative.

  16. Nick Reply

    Yawn. I am so done with tired stories like this one. My life would be complete if I never had to read a “How much would a stay home make a year if she was actually paid for everything she did” and “Here is a list of all the job titles a stay at home mom does each day” article again. Instead of pitting husband against wife why don’t we all agree that marriages work best when both sides participate and work towards a better future for not only their children but also for themselves. If a couple is having issues getting this done they should seek professional help with a family counselor to make sure that they are both communicating their needs effectively to one another to better there situation, rather than spend their time reading silly articles through social media.

    1. W616 Reply

      You said “reading silly little articles through social media”……..um, didn’t you just read this silly little article on social media?

  17. Casey A. Reply

    Great article! I’m not sure why others are reading a “battle of the sexes” or SAHM vs Working Mom vibe into this. I feel sorry for them. Life is about shared experience, not competition. Thanks for the vivid images. I was soooo with you and as a working dad, and I hope dear husband, I could totally envision my wife at home with your help.

  18. Kehanna Lessor Reply

    I am a stay at home mom and it is a joy. But it is crazy. I hate Togo in public with them for anything fun because it is not fun. You are a referee in a mma fight of who had what first. My house is always a mess. Sometimes dinner is the banquets TV dinners. I don’t have friends anymore and I am on this app called sing and that is what I do to relaxe. The few minute to myself that I do get during the day. My husband comes home and then john I am loving that upu come home and help! Procides to go about his day and does not understand the excitement in going to the alone! He sees maybe an hour of the day when he finally says hi to the kids. I don’t know who I am anymore as a real person. All I here all day is mom this mom that wipe a nose here a bitt there. Clean up some blood from a wound that was either from a jeoulous sibling or the grace they inherited from me. I really love your article it stated it all in a nutshell haha. PS. My husband showed me it and asked baffeled if this is what really happens. Some yes I unfortanatly am in that group of day old clothes and always being late and trying not to pill out your hair but stop and is filled with so much love and gratitude when the little demons are all asleep 🙂

  19. W616 Reply

    Elyssa, this is a great article. All these uptight, single-minded stay at homes get a damn grip! Um, not every mom who stays at home has perfect little days that you so claim to have. To actually insult her is just obnoxious and very undeserving. As I am here on Pinterest I am trying to get tips from other stay at home moms on making and keeping schedules, I come across this one and was very entertained. Then I read the comments from all the stuck up moms on how “they” are insulted by this article. Shame on you! Your not perfect! You all remind me of people who get angry and upset if your schedule isn’t kept. Sweet ladies, your going to get an ulcer if you don’t sit down somewhere, enjoy your time, drink some wine and LAUGH. Geeezzz……lighten up. I just hope that the uptight moms on here don’t have their own blogs because I imagine them being dry, very dry.

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