Most people who know me from long have a tough time visualizing me as a Stay-At-Home Mom. Workaholic, driven, career-oriented, achiever – I have been branded many things in my past life, but never a family-focused homemaker. So, one fine day – not so long ago, when I bid adieu to my very well-paying IT job, to stay home with my only son, many well-wishers had difficulty reconciling to my changed persona.
To be fair to them, to this day, even I have difficulty saying “I am not working.” or “I am a housewife.” when someone asks me what I do. This question makes me quite uncomfortable. It’s as if I have, suddenly, been put under a glaring spotlight, stripped of an identity and fumbling for the proper adjectives to define me. Of course, there are a thousand things that flash in my head about the “work” that I do when at home, but cleaning up messes and answering a thousand “why” and “but how” questions isn’t exactly a job description. Is it?
And it makes me wonder “What exactly do I do all day long, anyway?”. The house is as messy (sometimes messier) as before, almost everything gets done only during the weekends (just like the good old days 😉 ) and I still seem to be running out of time EVERY SINGLE DAY.
And those are the days, when I have to remind myself (of all people) about the core reason I quit my job and why it is important for me to be present during sonny’s formative years.
There is an old saying: It takes a village to raise a child. Unfortunately for most of us living in metros far away from our families, we don’t really have the luxury of that support system around. And we make-do with whatever option best suits our particular needs: be it a full-time nanny, a daycare service, a stay-at-home parent, a work-at-home parent or any permutation/combination of above options. There is no right or wrong answer here or any debate about which option is better. The decision is best left to the people at stake, namely the parents and the kids.
And for our particular family, the SAHM model is working out best so far. Of course, it may not always be the same: circumstances change, people change, kids grow up – but as of now, this is what it is.
And for this and only this reason, I am trying to put that nagging little voice asking productivity questions to rest, by doing what I am trained to do: Documenting my daily schedule and proving, through example, that I am not sitting home doing nothing and most importantly, reminding myself that these seemingly unproductive daily quests are as important as my erstwhile days, chock-a-block with meetings and action items.
So here goes a typical day in the life of A stay-at-home mom:
[NOTE: I haven’t been sending sonny to school since the last two weeks, which is an altogether different story deserving a separate blog post of its own. I will get to that some other day, but for today, the below schedule does not include my happy hours from 8:45 am – 11:45 am when sonny used to be at school 😉 ]
6:00 am – 6:30 am
Two tiny hands pry my eyes open “Good Morning, Ma. Switch on light.”, almost immediately after that “I want paani“. I drag my half-awake self to the kitchen, get a glass of water and give it to sonny. He drinks it and then starts rolling on the bed. After about 10-15 minutes of family cuddle time and roughhousing, we all getup.
Hubby starts getting ready for office while I try to convince sonny why he needs to go to the bathroom in the morning. It’s a 50-50 win-loss situation, some days I win, other days he gets to keep his pee in slightly longer 😉
A rare variation is when I wake up earlier. In that case, if I am in the bathroom or in the kitchen when sonny opens his eyes, he gets really angry (Talk about being possessive!). He must see me when he wakes up in the morning or else god save us from his wrath! He will start whining and command me “Go back to bathroom, Ma, go back”. Takes me 10-15 minutes to appease him after that.
Our housemaid rings the doorbell. Sonny runs to open the door and greets her “Aunty!”. (You should see me on the days she is delayed by 15 minutes, I almost have a heart attack 😉 )
While she cleans the utensils in the kitchen, I carry sonny to the living room, prop him on the sofa and go to the kitchen to get him a glass of milk, which of course leads to battle number 2. “No milk, Ma. I don’t like it anymore.” Anymore!!?? When did you ever like it?
Of course, I ignore his protests, switch on the TV and push the straw inside his semi-clamped mouth. Thanks to the magic of the idiot box, about two-thirds of the milk is finished. If I press him to drink some more, he quips: “Tummy full, bus bus, ho gaya, ho gaya, no more, no more!”
I switch off the TV and sonny starts following me around as I go about the house picking random toys strewn all over the place before our maid starts sweeping the floor. She always picks up sonny’s toys on occasions that I don’t have the energy to, but this activity is not in her job description and so I avoid delegating it to her often.
Somewhere between 7:00 am and 7:30 am, I automatically walk to the washing machine and run it in rinse mode with a fabric softener (for the clothes already washed in there from previous day).
Hubby is done with his shower and he and sonny go to the “pooja-ghar” to pray. I ask hubby if he wants any tea or breakfast. Mostly, it’s a no. He prefers eating his breakfast at the office.
7:45 am – 8:10 am
Hubby dresses up for office. Sonny plays with his toys or just follows either one of us.
I check my emails and Facebook and chalk up a TODO list for my blog. Almost every day I have some people trying to hack into my site, which means I have to make sure security is up to the mark and scan for any compromised data.
Hubby leaves for office. Sonny and I say good-bye to him.
By now, our maid is busy mopping the floor, so my main job is to confine sonny to the bed so that he does not end up leaving his paw prints throughout the house.
Our maid leaves. The floor is dry by then, so I let sonny get down from the bed. He goes to his room and picks up toys from the toy bin. Some days, he just dumps the entire contents onto the floor and starts kicking it like a mad person. I ignore it and go, feed our pet fish. If sonny discovers it, then he protests loudly “I do it, I do it! It’s my turn!” which means this job which normally takes a minute at max would end up taking fifteen.
I, then water the plants (this being the rainy season, hardly need to do it once every 4 days or so) with sonny tagging along.
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Since sonny is not going to preschool these days, this time slot is blocked for tracing alphabets or numbers, coloring or any other art project. (I try to follow his school’s syllabus).
First I make him trace one page of either alphabets or numbers. “I not write.” is the default verdict, of course. Still, I coax him with stickers, occasional threats about “the pencil monster who doesn’t like it when children don’t write” and the fact that we will have something to “show papa in the evening” if he completes it. Slowly and painstakingly, sonny completes the one page of letter tracing in one hour (It should take him hardly 15 minutes if he does it without all the whining and nautanki in between, but then children will be children; he would rather play than write!).
That one hour is the time when I go and make myself a giant cup of cold coffee (rather it’s a big beer mug, equivalent to 2.5 regular coffee cups) for survival.
After alphabet or number tracing is over, coloring or other art activities are like a cake-walk. He enjoys them! I let him do it alone (he doesn’t need to be coaxed for these) while I go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
10:30 am – 11:30 am
I switch on the TV (again!) and let sonny eat his breakfast along with rest of his milk from the morning. He watches whichever show is currently on his interest list and eats his breakfast slowly. Once he is done, “bus, bus, ho gaya, ho gaya, no more, no more!”, I let him finish the episode he is watching and then switch off the TV.
This is the slot when the Dhobi comes (every 2-3 days). I give him about 20-30 pieces of clothing for ironing.
11:30 am – 12:30 pm
For the next hour or so, I ask sonny to play on his own (doesn’t really work, he is back every five minutes) while I get on with my chores.
I unload the washing machine, spread the clothes out to dry (with enthusiastic participation from sonny, of course) and put in another load of washing (this load remains inside the machine overnight, till next morning’s rinse cycle). Then I fold laundry, change bed sheets, pillow cases, cushion covers etc., wash the water filter of our fish tank and other such random chores which need my attention that day.
Then its list making time: if there is a shortage of any grocery item, I make a list and send it to hubby. If the items on the list are urgent (needed before he is back from work), I either go now to the store inside our apartment complex to buy them (very rare) or just call up the store guy to send it home (Thank god for home delivery!).
After that, I, again insist sonny play on his own and try to get to the TODO list for my blog.
Some days, sonny obliges and is content with riding his bicycle or scooter inside the house or playing with his cars, other days there is too much suspicious silence, so much so that I can no longer concentrate and end up spying on him a bit too often. Some other days, I leave aside my TO DO lists and just play “tea party”, “doctor-patient”, “astronaut”, “catch” or “hide-n-seek” or build towers or race cars with him.
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm
It’s bath time, yay! For almost half an hour, sonny gets busy filling up the bathtub with water, pouring in body wash, making bubbles, playing with his bath toys and pretending to swim. This is one time when he is least bothered about what I am doing. He is a water baby!
So, I just pull up a chair in front of the bathroom, open my laptop and start working on the technical aspects of the blog (SEO, security, code customization, bug fixes etc.). 30 minutes is too short a time to write a blog post, so I don’t even try it. But I do try to organize my thoughts so that once sonny is down for his nap, I can get to it without delay.
Almost 15 minutes into the bath, I brush sonny’s teeth and drain the soapy water. Then I scrub and clean him and let him stand in the shower for another five minutes or so.
Then after another 5 minutes fighting because “I want more water.”, I force him out of the bathtub.
Dressing is not a big deal because if he does not wear clothes then “Ants will bite you!” 😉 (Amusing if you consider that sonny is not scared of spiders, lizards, dogs, cats, even horses and elephants and yet, tiny ants have the ability to make him wear his clothes in a jiffy!).
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
I cook lunch while sonny watches TV or iPAD or just follows me (it varies depending on his mood).
1:30 pm – 2:15 pm
It’s lunch time for both of us. We watch TV (cartoons, of course, no grown up stuff!) and eat our lunch.
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Finally its sonny’s nap time (2:15 pm – 2:30 pm is, of course, protest time: “I, not sleep. I don’t like it anymore!”).
This is my window of opportunity when all is quiet and I get time to think. So I just start typing like crazy, willing the clock to slow down 😩
At about 4:30 pm, I take a shower, with one ear to the bathroom door and praying fervently that sonny doesn’t wake up during that time! (Sometimes he does).
Our maid comes back again to do the dishes. Sonny wakes up and starts playing with his toys or just sits with me while I desperately try to finish my post.
Maid leaves. I put the evening snacks and milk in front of sonny. Again to loud protests. I ignore it and ask him to finish it. He drinks two-thirds of the milk and partly eats his snacks. Fair enough!
I call up the vegetable vendor for a fresh supply of vegetables (if I am running low, that is. Thank god again for home delivery!).
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
If my post is complete, then I directly go to the kitchen and start cooking dinner. If not, I continue working on my post while sonny plays.
Once in the kitchen, sonny follows me there and “helps” me. I give him a handful of dough to keep him occupied or bring a few toys to the kitchen.
If hubby is home, then sonny plays with him. If not, I take him outside to play in the park (these days it is not very frequent, thanks to the rain).
Occasionally, we go for a 30-minute drive. On other days, we just play in his room.
8:45 pm – 9:30 pm
It’s family dinner time.
9:30 pm – 10:15 pm
We all relax and chat and play.
I or hubby feed the fish.
Bedtime for sonny and hubby. I say good night and take my laptop out to the living room.
10:30 pm – 11:00 pm
If my post is still not complete, I conclude it during this time. If it’s already done, I obsess over the post’s stats 😉
I have stopped watching “grown-up” TV. It’s too time-consuming, plus all the serials I used to follow are already finished for now. If only they start “Person Of Interest”, “Supernatural” or “How to get away with murder” back on for next season!
A final check of the house and then lights out!
Ongoing Activity Throughout the Day
Cleaning numerous spills (water, milk, yogurt, food, paint etc. etc.) because “I do it all by myself”!
So there you have it. A typical day in my life as a SAHM. Am I loving every moment of it? No, not really. But who does love every second of their lives, anyway? But do I regret quitting my job? Nah! I am too busy rediscovering my real interests and enjoying another game of hide-n-seek in between!
So what does your day look like?