My husband made the somewhat unfortunate mistake of asking what I do all day on my “day off”. AKA implying that I should be doing more. Now as I’ve mentioned before I have one “day off” each week (in addition to Saturday and Sunday). My older kids usually have school, which leaves me home with my toddler. I generally spend that day doing laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, and you know, eating a bon bon or two.
Don’t get me wrong, if I go grocery shopping I’ll grab a coffee at Starbucks, or if I’m feeling particularly depressed I’ll head to Ikea for some light browsing. But it’s not exactly sipping margaritas on the beach or anything. When my husband comes home and asks me about my day, I usually relay the most fun item to him instead of complaining about all the boring stuff. I think it originates from my mother teaching me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Rather then complaining to my husband “I scrubbed the inside of the kitchen trashcan with bleach in hopes of eliminating the pungent garbage smell that has been radiating the premises for the past several weeks” I usually tell him something along the lines of, “After a bit of cleaning Violet and I went to the playground and got an ice cream cone.” What I’ve realized lately is that the only thing he hears is ice cream cone, plus he never realized the garbage pail smelled to begin with, so the fact that the odor has been eliminated is completely over his head, and he’s left thinking my day is all fun and games and desserts.
I decided to document my day off in hopes of enlightening him about what I do with all that free time. I have a feeling my days off are pretty similar to what my SAHM friends go through daily. I’ll start my day at 7, since that is when he departs for work. By this time Violet is already up and dressed for the day and usually has been for an hour or two.
What do moms do on their days off?
7:00 Wake up older children. Tell them to get dressed for school. Make breakfast. Set table. Start packing lunches. Children emerge. Tell any child who is wearing clothing that is not weather appropriate or that was clearly picked up off the floor to go back and change. Debate temperature and if shorts are appropriate in a warm building on a snowy day with child 1. Win battle. Debate prominence of mustard stain with child 2. Loose battle. Finish packing lunches. Child 1 emerges in warm clothing and the added accessory of a beautiful multicolored chip on the shoulder. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Encourage lotion and hair brush use. Debate the importance of lotion and hair brush use. Loose battle.
7:55 Tell everyone it is time to leave for carpool. Assist the winter accouterment assemblage of 3 children. Just because a child is old enough to zip their own coat doesn’t mean they will remember to do it before putting on their gloves. Consider telling them to take their gloves off and zip their own coat. Realize it is now 8:02 and there is no more time for teachable moments.
Yell Announce loudly that everyone better hurry up because carpool was supposed to leave at 8, and if they miss if they are walking to school. Hustle the troops out the door. Run down the street like a mad woman while your toddler who seems to have ripped off her mittens when you were assisting a sibling’s zipper cries about her cold hands and your older kids run after you leaving a trail of paper because one of their backpacks apparently never got zipped.
8:05 Kiss and hug two children goodbye while apologizing to them for that temporary moment of
insanity impatience a few minutes earlier. Walk home. Pick up paper trail, because littering is bad. And also because a neighbor may be watching you.
8:10 Arrive home. Try to console screaming toddler with cold hands who keeps demanding “mik” while trying to remove your shirt. Give toddler mik. Spend several minutes contemplating if toddler really will wean on her own like all those self led weaning people say, or if this child needs to be given the boot. Toddler drifts off to sleep while you decide to continue this debate with yourself at a later date.
8:45 Check phone. Return several text messages about who is driving afternoon carpool. Check email. Return several emails about where to find certain project files at work.
9:30 Decide to start laundry. Sort lights and darks. Drag giant laundry basket down hall toward front door and…. wake the baby.
9:45 Turn on Signing Time. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly stated numerous times that children under age 2 should avoid both screens and the plague, you’ve decided that carrying a toddler and laundry basket to the washing machine in the garage at the same time is very difficult and likely a little more unsafe than a 30 minute television show.
9:53 Return from starting laundry in garage. Debate hot tea or hot shower. Settle on hot tea even though you know you will regret it later. Boil water. Clear a forgotten breakfast dish. Wipe table. Smile at your daughter and think about how adorable it is when you see her signing “potty.” Wish she would use a potty instead of just knowing the sign language for it. Consume tea. Console toddler who is now screaming and using sign language to sign the phrase “More Signing Time” because her show has ended.
10:17 Follow toddler to her bedroom aka the room she doesn’t sleep in but does store her toys in. Debate doing dishes while she plays. Remember Nationwide commercial and the lack of tethered bookshelves. Sing Old McDonald. Eat plastic food. Change a diaper. Read a board book. Straighten bookshelf. Kiss a baby doll. Pick up puzzle pieces. Hang clothes that have fallen on the closet floor. Eat plastic food. Sing ABCs. Follow toddler out of room as she pushes baby stroller. Firmly close bedroom door. Use bathroom while peanut gallery unrolls toilet paper.
10:50 Set dishes up to soak. Realize washer is done. Put toddler in playpen aka baby jail. Walk to garage. Move clothes to dryer and start 2nd load. Return to house. Console screaming toddler who wasn’t fond of her jail time.
11:26 Make lunch. Opt for the grilled cheese because, although it takes a little while to make, it went over well last time. Eat. Watch toddler eat. Realize the grilled cheese will not be getting a second gold medal. Give in to toddler’s request for ketchup. Watch toddler dip grilled cheese in ketchup and then lick it off. Ponder how disgusting grilled cheese and ketchup must taste. Wipe down toddler, high chair, and floor surrounding high chair. Throw away ketchup encrusted sandwich. Give in to toddler’s request for “shease.” Because apparently cheese is delicious, just not grilled into a sandwich.
12:10 Leave toddler strapped in high chair with puzzle. Go to garage and get first finished load of laundry. Move second load to dryer. Start 3rd load in wash.
12:17 Return to screaming toddler. Release her from high chair straight jacket of safety. Turn on Pandora Broadway station as quickly as possible knowing that show tunes are this toddlers favorite thing. Sing and dance to the first song that happens to come on, “What the Fuck?” while toddler laughs hysterically. Ponder if this song is scarring her for life or giving her the mouth of a sailor. Decide you still have a couple more months before she starts singing along. Give toddler sippy cup of milk.
12:20 Begin folding laundry for those who are net yet old enough to fold. Neatly stack laundry to argue about later with those who are old enough to fold. Answer a real phone. Confirm your child’s pediatrician appointment for the next day. Go over what shots are needed. Hang up. Answer a fake phone. Pretend the call is for your toddler. Bring neatly stacked piles of laundry to their recipients beds to await folding. Return to find the moments ago folded laundry now strewn across the floor. Tell a very proud toddler that isn’t how we put clothes away. Refold clean clothes. Deposit clothes that landed in sippy cup milk puddle into dirty clothes basket.
1:20 Put toddler in for nap. Retrieve second finished load of laundry. Move third load to dyer. Start 4th load in wash. Start folding. Realize your 7 year old accidentally put her gorgeous dry clean only dress in the wash. Feel simultaneously guilty for not looking more closely at what you dump into the machine and agitated that she put the dress in the dirty clothes when you told her not to. Finish folding at record speed without the distraction of a small child.
2:00 Shower. With soap. And water. Decide never to leave the beauty and isolation of the hot clean water that is running over your head. Remember the water bill. Get out. Get dressed.
2:30 Notice the hallways and living room are covered in sidewalk salt footprints from everyone coming and going the passed few days. Start mopping the floors.
3:00 Hear your toddler playing in her crib. Rush to finish the floors before she starts fussing.
3:15 Change toddler’s diaper. Feed her snack. Put on coat, mittens, hat. Mittens again.
3:45 Leave to pick up the big kids from school. Drive the neighborhood carpool home.
4:00 Complete Pandemonium. Worksheets, laundry, and emotions fly all over the house like confetti on new years. There will also be dinner and possibly a chess game.
8:30 The troops retire to their bedrooms where there may be stories and kisses. We have survived another “day off”.