The Definition of “What I Did All Day With The Kids”

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Thank you to Carolyn for saying it how it is. It sure made my day to realise what it is exactly that eats the time up each day when at the end of it I feel I really haven’t accomplished all that much!

By Carolyn Hax
Wednesday, May 23, 2007; Washington Post

Okay. 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. I’m feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won’t my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest (“My life is so much harder than yours”)? What’s the deal? I’ve got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.
Tacoma, Wash.
Relax and enjoy. You’re funny.
Or you’re lying about having friends with kids.
Or you’re taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven’t personally been in the same room with them.
Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, 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.
It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.
It’s also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn’t judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.
Elizabeth Ruth

Elizabeth Ruth

Elizabeth is a children's book author and designer of knit and crochet character hats under the brand The Ruthless Crafter. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, spend time with her family, and swim. She lives a full, happy life in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband and their two children.

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1 Comment

  1. OMG… This kind of attitude makes me so angry. I don’t have any children of my own (yet), but in my more carefree days (when I was still in school and unencumbered by real life) I was a Nanny. It’s like being a mom, except at the end of the day you get to give the child back to his/her parents.

    I guess by the standards of Ms Tacoma Washington, I was being paid for nothing, because I was not also a housekeeper. I really did devote the entire 10 hours of each workday to the children. I really did have very little time to complete a multitude of other tasks; sure I could squeeze in a load of laundry, and if I was quick enough I could clear up the breakfast/snack/lunch/other snack dishes dishes before the kids got bored and it was time to move on to the next activity.

    Using the kid as an excuse to relax all day? Har har har guffaw. Right. Ms. Tacoma Washington just needs to imagine how productive she would be if her boss sat with her at her desk and constantly demanded she re-prioritize her work. It’s not that stay-at-home moms are unambitious or inefficient by nature. It’s just impossible to be efficient when 5 minutes into any one task, something more urgent comes up.

    Oh yeah, and what about this? Being responsible for the physical and emotional health and safety of a human being… instilling values… that’s not enough to impress the folks in Tacoma?

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Hi! I'm Elizabeth

Welcome to More Than A Mom, a space for daydreamers and creative thinkers who are obsessed with improving yourself, your home, and loving your family.

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