I will never, ever, ever, ever underestimate the amount of work a stay-at-home-parent does all day. Ever again. 5 months into maternity leave and I swear I’d rather return to work so I can get away from all the work I’m doing now. Don’t get me wrong. I love hanging out with Nugget, but do you know how much time it takes to parent a child effectively? It’s ungodly. Seriously. Ungodly. I don’t know how people do it. And let me tell you if I weren’t an organized person our home life would be hell because entire days are dedicated to specific chores. And if Nugget’s having a bad day I have to be flexible enough to move things around and take advantage of another day another time.
So when I hear people muse aloud how it must be great to be home all day, let me just say this:
I never sleep. At least, not well anymore. I am up at the slightest sound or movement.
My days start at 7:30am, most of the time. Nugget has surprised me a few times with a 5am wake up call. The second we’re up for the day I’m calculating when her first nap should be. In between all that I’m organizing the day in my head and how efficient I will have to be to get even the most mundane things done.
I have never been so efficient in my life. A trip to the bathroom is no longer a trip to the bathroom. As a SAHP (stay at home parent) I’m picking up clutter along the way, sorting the mail, putting away laundry, throwing in a new load of laundry, scooping the cat litter and making the bed simply because all of those things are on the way to the bathroom. Thursdays are my big cleaning days because it’s trash day. My whole system starts upon waking with soaking and washing litter pans and cleaning the entire bathroom right after that…all right after I’ve changed Nugget’s diaper.
We then head to the grocery store directly after her first morning nap when she’ll be in a good mood and not hungry. But I also have to make sure her diaper’s changed again, that I have my diaper bag, a sling to carry her in and my grocery list lest I stand a little too long in an aisle and Nugget starts crying.
Then when we get home I have to find a parking space, carry in the groceries and baby and decide whether to feed her and put her down for a nap first or put away the groceries. Most of the time I have to divide and conquer. And this is all contingent on finding a space close enough to the house that I don’t have to somehow carry and balance 100lbs of food and child home. Thank god for that sling.
It’s all such a delicate dance. And by this time it’s 2:30pm (and that’s on a good day). The rest of the day is reserved for “playing” with Nugget. People think it’s great. Yeah, I guess it is when you look at the big picture, but you can only sing “I’m A Little Teapot” and the alphabet so many times before it gets really, really old. Then there’s tummy time and story time. And I haven’t even cleaned the dishes yet, nor have I figured out what to make for dinner. Since The Man gets home at 6pm I often try to have things done so that he can maximize (see that efficiency?) his time with Nugget since her bedtime is at 7:30pm. He only gets an hour and a half with her a night during the week. I just couldn’t imagine.
But, mostly, MOSTLY, SAHP’s have to juggle the monotony of daily chores and homemaking all while being the model of human kindness, empathy, understanding and strength. SAHP’s have to be “present” all day, aware of their actions, emotions, frustrations and how all of that translates to the little ones. I’ve found it difficult even when The Man and I have, say, heated discussions with Nugget in the room. To be naive and think babies don’t somehow know or feel the tension would be stupid on my part.
So what am I really saying? I’m saying you’re a moron if you think SAHP’s watch TV and eat all day. Because you really have no idea what it’s like to work until you have a child and every fiber of your whole being is called to action. It’s really just amazing how it all gets done. Over and over again. Every day.