What do Stay at Home Mums do All Day?

I often read many stay-at-home bloggers complain about how infuriating it is to be asked “What do you do all day?”. The recipients of such comments often get defensive and huffy and start listing out how their job scope includes being chefs, drivers, educators, nurses etc etc. I wonder sometimes if other people are truly curious about what happens because they don’t know what taking care of a child encompasses.

When I think of myself before we had kids, I was totally misguided and clueless about taking care of young children. In fact, I didn’t even like them. I never paid attention to newborns or coo over how precious they are. In fact, I still don’t think newborns are cute. I’d much prefer my little 4 year old anytime. Before I experienced it myself, I never imagined that taking care of a young child would be so much work. I’ve never had to take care of younger siblings/ cousins/ neighbors, so I only knew what I saw on TV i.e. that taking care of an infant is simply giving them milk, changing their diaper, enjoying their wonderful smiles, buying toys for them to explore by themselves and then putting them on the cot when they are sleepy/ asleep. Easy peasy, right? Then reality hits and you realize that there’s a lot more to it  – waking up every 3 hours at night, carrying your baby while he naps, taking care of a sick child, worrying about milestones, clearing the endless washing up, having to entertain the baby who has an uber short attention span, cleaning up puke, poop and any other possible excretions that a body can conceive of.

Having been both a stay at home mother and a working mother, I have great respect for both because it takes a lot of energy and effort to be either. A working mom is obviously a tough choice to take. There is a lot less time to spend with your children – on weekday nights, you’ll have maybe an hour or two after dinner before their bed time and you are all exhausted from work and commute; on weekends, there are still chores and errands that needs to be done. When Calvin was in daycare, I found that I didn’t enjoy this lifestyle at all. It was too hectic and stressful and there was too little time to reflect and plan. I felt like we lived day to day like clockwork. I didn’t have time to grow as a person then. I was too busy and too exhausted. It didn’t help that I wasn’t having enough sleep at night and he was constantly sick and not exactly thriving in the day care environment. I constantly wished I had more time and I salute those who can juggle this difficult balancing act.

For me and Calvin, the stay at home path was much better. After we started our 2nd stay at home stint, Calvin started eating very well and not falling sick so much. I still wished I had more time on my hands. It was not easy to juggle taking care of the household and being a 24/7 mother – Calvin never really played by himself for more than 10 minutes until he was almost 4 years old? I was still learning to cook at that time and it was very time consuming to have all our meals home cooked everyday. I am glad I had the opportunity to take this path because I enjoy being very involved in his growing up. I’ve learned a lot more about motivation, child psychology, teaching techniques, language acquisition, calming techniques (self and others) etc. I could have “outsourced” some of that to enrichment centers that teach phonics etc but I like learning about the how and why so I spend a lot of my time reading about homeschooling experiences, science experiments, math and language activities etc. I get more time to plan out fun activities for him and learn about his interests.

I’ve also learned more about myself as a person and I find myself maturing. Before having Calvin, I felt no different from when I was in college – I did what I wanted on a whim; I had no responsibilities other than to hold a job; I thought of myself as a static persona and I was not sure about how I could grow – when I thought about myself becoming a manager in the future, it felt strange and unreal. Now, I feel like I am ready to go back to work after having grown up a little more. So when Calvin grows up and no longer needs me at home, I might once again go back to work if I still can.

So back to the question of “What do you do all day?”.  Perhaps if we try to listen to the question with a positive mindset and assume that the person asking is merely curious (or just trying to make small talk), we may not feel quite as offended. Would people be similarly offended if they were asked about their day at the office? Maybe it is because this is a sore, tender topic for stay at home parents who are worried about their sense of self worth when they do not possess tangible achievements like a promotion or a raise that you may get at a workplace. So much so that even possibly innocent questions will lead the self conscious to feel judged when they are not.

For me, maybe my answer will be”I am growing up :)”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: