Although, I have been an “at-home” parent for basically as long as I have been a parent, I have never been asked what I do all day.
I like to think this is because I surround myself with awesome people who understand that choosing not to work outside the home is not the same thing as choosing to be a lazy bum, but it may simply be that no one cares what I do all day.
If it is the latter….that is unfortunate, because today, I am going to show you! Some friends and I started sharing photo journals of our day and I figured if I was already going to think about it, I might as well get a blog post out of it!
Some things to note before I begin:
– These photographs are mostly terrible because taking a beautiful photograph of every event in my day would just never happen. It is okay though because basically all the blurriness, graininess and chaos just makes it all more realistic.
– Throughout the day, I wipe a lot of bottoms and noses and I deal with a lot of bodily fluids and nudity. Over and over and over again. I chose to omit those parts of the day. They still happen. All the time.
– If anyone had asked what we were doing this day, I would have told them, “Nothing!” …So this is what “nothing” looks like.
Good morning, World! I literally hate that I am awake right now. And this..
…is the only thing that is keeping me from crawling right back under the covers and giving you the middle finger.
Say, “Thank you, Mr. Keurig.”
My goal every, single morning is to wake up before the boys. And I fail every, SINGLE morning. Not because I don’t get up (okay, sometimes because I don’t get up), but because the boys smell my plan and always, always get up 5 minutes before my alarm.
Our newest tactic is a trade off. Ryan takes the boys for an hour and then I take over while he gets ready for the day. So, as I listen to the boys help ease Papa into the day gently from our bedroom (bahahaha!) I get dressed, unload the dishwasher, suck down my
life force coffee, and get started on breakfast.
This morning, I notice the bananas are just a tiny, little bit overripe so I decide to throw together a batch of protein banana muffins for breakfast.
I take out the recycling and pause to smell the roses. And then my hour of solitude is up.
I retrieve these little sleepyheads from their father and they are all, “Good morning, Mother! Isn’t it a pleasant day? How did you sleep?”
Ha, ha. Just kidding. They are like…..
“Feed us now or regret it forever.” So, I get started on that.
The big boys dig into some yogurt for First Breakfast and Rory nurses and/or has his own breakfast. This morning, he had apple oatmeal, which he accepted cheerfully as I shoveled in bites while setting the table, making Papa a protein shake and getting my kombucha poured. (That is why Rory is The Favorite.)
Oh, look guys! It is 8:07 a.m. The perfect time to sit down together as a family and eat breakfast.
Nope. It is the perfect time for a baby diaper blowout, a toddler meltdown, and for the Big One to declare he has to poop immediately. Okay. That’s cool too. We roll with it and get cleaned up and dressed instead.
We are finally all dressed and sitting down to eat. We are all completely thrilled about our freshly baked, homemade, healthy muffins that Mama spent her entire Alone Hour making for us…..sort of.
Papa leaves for work and all 3 boys are fed, dressed, groomed and ready for the day! Mama however is now covered in tantrum snot, poop, and banana muffin batter. So, this happens while I change clothes.
I have 3 children which makes me completely immune to mommy judging, by the way.
After my fabulous wardrobe change (yes, that is a maternity top and yes Rory is 10 months old), Liam gets started on his daily task of asking repeatedly when he can have his iPad and/or watch that one episode of Power Rangers over and over. He is very committed to this task. I admire his tenacity.
In between whining about how unfair life is, he does manage to straighten up his room, which is the one task he actually needs to complete before
zombie-time screen time. The boy can multi-task.
I am feeling like I could really use a nap, which must mean we are finally ready to start our day! First we head to the playroom to check out our calender…but since we are learning our address and it is written in huge letters on our whiteboard in every picture I took, I will just show you this adorable little firefighter who was hanging out with us instead.
I love you all but that doesn’t mean you aren’t crazy stalkers.
We do it anyway and it is lovely. I genuinely recommend starting your day with a quick stroll around your neighborhood even if everyone complains about it. You end up finding really cool bugs and waving to neighbors and breathing deeply. It is refreshing!
When we get home, it is time for the baby to nurse and take a nap. He goes down easily because he is The Favorite.
It is also time for a lot of this….
I started the day off counting every meltdown. I lost track after 25. This was not a particularly challenging day or anything. They just scream a lot. Reasons for meltdowns this day included, but were not limited to:
You put me down.
You picked me up.
You got me dressed.
You changed my diaper.
You changed my brother’s diaper.
We went outside.
We came inside.
My brother touched my stuff.
My brother touched me.
My brother talked to me.
My brother is too loud.
My brother exists.
My brother refused to smell my butt.
My friend did not let me take his toy.
I woke up.
I wanted to play the piano so you put me on the piano bench.
You put the dead iPad on the charger.
You would not let me throw apples at other people.
You wouldn’t unlatch my baby brother so I could nurse.
I asked for juice and you gave me some.
There are many moments during our day that find all 3 children crying. While it is totally normal, it can be emotionally draining.
You know that one friend that creates drama wherever they go? The one you love because they are fun and wild, but you need to take in small doses? They cannot see things from other people’s perspectives. They speak their mind loudly. They don’t understand why you don’t feel everything they feel. They genuinely think you want to hear every single detail of every single problem they ever have.
Take that friend, add in a lack of tact or filter, no boundaries, more shrieking, multiple it times 3, have them wipe snot on you daily and subtract any hope of escaping the dramatics and that is what living with my children can be like. Unconditional love and maternal instinct soften the blow, but sometimes, I am just really tired.
I did not take pictures of every meltdown. That would be impossible and also make me a terrible mother.
Basically, just imagine the above peppered sporadically throughout the day triggered by a variety of issues and maybe scream loudly and repeatedly (words like, “Mine!” or “He is LOOKING AT MY TOYS!!”) in an enclosed space to add realism to the experience.
(Still) 10:30 a.m.
When Rory goes down for a nap, Liam heads off to play and I start morning chores.
Dexter loves to be my helper. It is adorable. He follows me around as I do laundry, make beds, straighten rooms and do whatever I can in the short time I have before I need to get him down down for his nap. He loves to load the dryer and works so hard on smoothing wrinkles from the covers. I may have to do some tasks three times thanks to his “help” but it is worth it.
We have 3 small children at home and so my housekeeping goals are not lofty. “Liveable” and “not disgusting” basically cover it. My favorite part is how no matter how much time I spend fighting the chaos, nothing ever actually looks clean because there is always someone to throw a bowl of applesauce on the wall, dump out a basket of toys or throw up on the rug right behind me.
This day, we did cloth diaper laundry, made the beds, did a toy sweep, straightened up the play room and vacuumed half the house before time was up. I felt incredibly silly taking pictures of myself vacuuming, by the way.
At this point in the day, things could go in many different directions. There is a chance that the stars will align and I may get a couple of minutes of near solitude. It isn’t likely but it dangles there like a carrot on a string that my introverted heart longs for. I start to wrestle with myself-
Don’t get you hopes, Michelle! But- but maybe? Just don’t think about it and then you won’t be disappointed. But what would you do if it did happen? I don’t know, maybe lunch alone or read a chapter of my book or- NO! Don’t do that. And stop talking to yourself. It is creepy and weird.
I calmly get Dexter ready for nap. Nursing, diaper, pacifier, curtains closed, singing, rocking, pretending like I really could not care less how long it takes for him to fall asleep. You have to stay cool.
Because they smell plans, remember?
Boom!! It is apparently my lucky day and the boy is out in under 15 minutes. I may or may not fist pump in victory as I silently creep out the bedroom door.
Liam’s moment has finally arrived. We sit down to work through some learning apps on his iPad together. We work together until he has complete tasks in literacy, math, science and coding. I enjoy this time with my little tech nerd. He talks a mile a minute, so excited to share what he is learning with me. And then, when we are finished, he runs off to play Minecraft or Spider-Man in the reading corner and I exhale for the first time all day.
Any of these moments- these in between, quiet moments when all 3 children are either asleep or occupied- feel stolen and precious. I have gotten exceptionally good at savoring them when they occur. In 15 minutes, I can make and eat a decent meal, read at least half a chapter in a book and fold several items of clothing. I can also drink at least two additional cups of coffee. I am going to need it.
Because afternoon is coming.
One boy always wakes up happy and one boy always wakes up angry. But everybody is hungry and so it is time for lunch.
After a successful and crises-free meal….
…the afternoon goes sort of montage on us as the boys play, I attempt to finish up last minute chores and reboot the diaper laundry, Liam finishes school work, Dexter watches Signing Time, Rory needs a snack, Dexter needs a snack, Liam needs to play the piano, everyone needs some Mama time, so on and so forth.
Just imagine some upbeat, catchy 80’s tune playing as you scroll through these pictures…
Before we head out, I throw dinner together and stick it in the fridge because if cooking dinner requires any effort later, we will be ordering pizza.
I need to change both Rory’s clothes and my own (yes, again- my children are gross) and this makes Rory angry.
A benefit of being the youngest of three is that there is always someone around to come to your rescue (and make Mama’s heart swoon).
And finally, after potty breaks and nursing breaks, packing the diaper bag, filling the water bottles, applying sunscreen, strapping on sandles, and making 3 trips to and from the house to carry all our crap, we are off!
(Please excuse the pouting child. This was My Brother is Too Loud- a tantrum that plays on repeat any time we drive anywhere.)
We play at the park across the street from the farmer’s market. The boys are so adorable I forget how hard it was to get them out of the house and it is this amnesia that keeps me leaving the house and not becoming a hermit.
It is market day! It is a little challenging to shop the market in the summer because it is so hot your face is melting off and the sweet, cool air of the local supermarket starts calling to you like a siren. The heat also makes everything feel more expensive. “Why is a tomato two dollars when I am SOO HOT!!?!”
BUT then you run into friends and chat, and your kid bites into a delicious freshly picked apple and you get a beautiful bouquet of flowers for the kitchen table. Then you realize you accidentally spent an extra dollar and are one short for milk and your farmer overhears you explaining this to your children and knocks a dollar off the price for you….and then you remember why you shop here.
After market shopping, we walk to the coffee shop across the street with our friends for a treat. We last just long enough to sit down with our coffee before the toddlers start throwing punches and shrieking fills the air.
Witching hour has begun.
When we get home, I put dinner in the oven and get ready to feed the baby. The boys…basically lose their minds.
Blood sugar is low. Exhaustion is setting in. Mama could go the rest of the evening with out having her shoulder yanked through the top of her dress or her hair pulled by children attempting to climb her one more time and be just peachy…but that just isn’t going to happen. The minutes in between the time we know Papa is off work until the time he walks in the front door are NEVERENDING.
And then suddenly, he appears…like an angel sent from heaven.
I just barely resist the urge to pick up the boys one by one and toss them in his general direction before sprinting the opposite way. Barely.
The boys have dessert. Mama has dishes.
Papa takes care of the Baby Monkey while I bathe the Grubby Monkey. When big brother finishes his ice cream, he joins the bath.
Joint bath time ends in tears 100% of the time. I actually don’t know why we continue to attempt it. After the third altercation, we call it quits and Dexter (always the antagonist) is pulled from the tub.
I get Dexter all ready for bed and hand him off to Papa for stories and bedtime. He has already tucked Rory in. Two down, one to go.
Liam and I chat while he finishes up his bath. We talk about space aliens, hot lava and testicles- you know, normal stuff.
After Liam is ready for bed he has a quick piano lesson and then he and I read a couple of chapters of his chapter book together before Papa sings him to sleep.
I have one last load of laundry to do before I climb in the shower and get ready for bed.
Once I have showered and feel somewhat human again, I pull the cloth diapers out of the dryer and put them in a laundry basket where I will intend to fold them every day until they are all dirty once more.
We have a homeschooling field trip planned for the next day so I lay the boys’ clothes out and restock the diaper bag, making sure to include more snacks than it seems humanly possibly for 3 kids to consume in one outing so that my kids can eat them all in the first 20 minutes and then fuss about how hungry they are the rest of the time.
Time for bed. We made it through the day. There isn’t ever going to be a paycheck to collect. There isn’t really anyone to tell me if I did a good job or not. And tomorrow, we will do it all again.
There will always be more diapers to change, quarrels to navigate, babies to nurse, and shoelaces to tie.
Until one day….there isn’t anymore.
One day, my house will be quiet. One day, I will wake up at a reasonable hour. One day my feet and back won’t ache. One day, I will have lunch breaks and paid time off. One day, this phase- this crazy, silly, loud, frustrating, hilarious, wonderful phase- will be over.
And one day…. I will be so glad that this is what I did all day when I had the chance.