As a stay-at-home mom, I try to prioritize. Read: I do the things I have to do to keep the house from falling apart first, everything else second and my own stuff last. This especially includes the chores I am least enthusiastic about doing.
On any given day, I get up and feed Avery first, particularly recently because she’s been going through a growth spurt so intense that if she’s conscious, she’s starving. After that I check to make sure Braeden’s fed himself. I unload the dishwasher (with Braeden’s help, because we have recently realized that at 10 he’s old enough to help with chores, a/k/a “learning new life skills”), reload the dishwasher and start a load of laundry. The dishes and the laundry are the true constants; since Avery’s birth I’ve basically done laundry almost every day. Now that we no longer have dogs (my last one died in November), I am able to vacuum only once a week, which is nice, if weird. I try to mop every two weeks. It should probably be a weekly task, but that rarely happens. Later I fold my laundry and Avery’s (Braeden folds his own, as does Chris – I just wash it all) and put hers away. My own makes it into the laundry basket, but often no further. I hate putting my clothes away. I have more clothes than available space, which makes the task especially unpleasant. I avoid it until I realize I can no longer find many of my clothes. It’s reached that point again, sadly.
I do the dishes after breakfast as well as after lunch, because while we have a dishwasher, a lot of things require hand-washing. Avery’s high chair tray tops that list; I wash it at least four times a day. Chris is the cook, so I wash dishes again after dinner. I pick up toys, read to Avery, sing to Avery and generally try to keep her entertained. Yes, that involves the TV. I do not pretend to be Supermom. If Caillou can keep her quiet while I am folding the laundry or doing the dishes (or checking Facebook), all the better. I prefer Sesame Street, but you can’t always get what you want.
I am showering every other day, most days. If we go somewhere special or I’ve walked, that changes, but my appearance is not my number one priority. I try to insure that I don’t stink, but that’s sometimes all I can manage. Bottom line, I spend a lot of my day doing mundane chores. It’s sad, but true. I don’t know where my efficiency level rates compared to other people’s, but my guess is that it’s not very high. I was used to having Chris around every day. I’m not sure I got more accomplished overall, but I definitely got more personal stuff done. It’s possible that I technically accomplish more – household-wise – now. I feel a certain sense of obligation, I think. If Chris is working every day, I should be getting things done here, too. And it’s true, even if I feel a certain level of mental resistance to it. I’m not used to being the one doing most of the chores, and I find myself struggling against resentment. It’s ridiculous. He works all day and still makes dinner. The laundry and the dishes and the vacuuming and dusting and general clean-up now fall onto me, and that’s reasonable. It’s just that I’m not used to it, so there’s a mental shift I am struggling to make. The household drudgery is no longer 50/50, because we aren’t here an equal amount of time. Again, it’s fair. I’m just fighting my natural, bratty tendencies.
I also feel a ridiculous need to have someone, namely Chris, acknowledge every stupid chore I’ve done in a given day. If the house looks better now than it did when we were both here – which it does, typically – I want kudos for it. Petty, I guess. I do thank him every time he makes dinner, but I don’t thank him for going to work. I do thank God for that, and regularly, nightly, even. But maybe I should be thanking Chris, too. I know we’re both grateful he is working, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard, and stressful. He could probably use the acknowledgement. Complaints come more easily than gratitude, sadly. I need to fix that.
So to all the stay-at-home moms (or dads), do you have a routine? A schedule you keep to, or a list? What is the division of labor like in your home? What do you get done in a given day? What do you feel like you’re failing to get done? I’m curious to know how things work for others. One thing on my list of failures is Avery’s room, which used to be our office. We got the computer and desk out, but everything else is still there. She has a bed (that she never sleeps in), a changing table and a dresser. But we have so much stuff still in there that the room can’t really be hers, and I’m not sure what to do about it. There is no place for much of it to go, since our home is small. So there it sits, taunting me. Any wannabe organizers out there who can offer free advice, please go for it. I’m at an impasse.
School starts on Monday, and that will be a massive addition to my day. Getting up significantly earlier, getting Avery up, pushing Braeden along, making his lunch… helping him with homework after school. He’s starting 5th grade – I can hardly believe it! I hope I am still able to help with math, and I really wish I were joking.
There’s so much on my mind, and my thoughts are banging around against the inside of my skull like pinballs. I’m sure this reflects that.