What do stay-at-home mamas do all day?
There was no judgment in my thought, just curiosity in the unknown. I had two babies within two years and the company I was working for just let everyone go.
I quickly found myself in this new role, home with my two boys all day long–and oh my, did these days keep me on my toes. It seems like the days either fly by … or drag on forever. From sunup to sundown, our days are filled with food, fights, and lots of laughs.
This is how it usually goes:
5am: Alarm goes off, and I do NOT pop out of bed. I usually hit the snooze button at least once, but then I really, really try to find the inner self-motivation to get out of bed and get my day started before anyone else is up. It’s not easy; I don’t love that sound at 5am. But I do love the feeling of getting a head start on the day. I make myself a coffee and head to my desk area where I check emails, scroll the latest celebrity gossip, and work on any of my current freelance writing assignments. But even if it’s simply just waking myself up calmly and slowly, instead of due to screaming toddlers, then the effort is worth it. I feel the positive effect all day long.
6:30am: The boys begin to rise. And if I failed at my 5am alarm, I start to wake as well. Sippy cups are filled with milk for the boys and coffee for my husband and me as we take stock of the day before us. We should probably get going right away, but we always sit on the couch together for at least 10 minutes as a family before the chaos officially begins.
7 – 7:30am: The boys play as my husband and I shower and get ready for our days. My husband usually leaves around 7:30/7:45, and I need to be dressed for the day or else it’s a struggle to do so with both boys running around! If in a rush, I let my hair air dry and try to embrace the whole “au natural” look. If I’m able to blow dry my hair, the next day I can skip a shower and just straighten up my locks which saves time once again. Mom beauty hacks for the win.
7:30am: Breakfast time for myself and the boys. We eat a ton of fruit and some sort of carb, whether waffles, English muffins, cereal, or toast. If I’m on top of game, I’ll fry up an egg for myself but more often than not, I reach for the carbs. I do find it easiest to prepare the same thing for all three of us, just cut up differently; it saves time and energy.
8am: Get Bode dressed. At 2.5 years old, Bode has become quite opinionated about what he wears and has particular clothing items he wants to wear; 90 percent of the time, they do not match at all. But I’ve learned that it’s not worth arguing over. I pick my battles, so we’re embracing the whole “mismatched prints” trend in our house these days.
8:30am: Out the door. The diaper bag is always ready to go, so I can focus on loading the boys into the car—it’s a feat in itself. We all make our way to the garage entrance where I put shoes on Bode (they stay in the garage since they are ALWAYS covered in mud). I load Otis in the car, then Bode, then the diaper bag. Sounds simple, but it’s a choreographed dance.
9am: We drop off Bode at his preschool, then return home to tidy up the kitchen post-breakfast (how do two little boys make such a disaster!?), and I try to get Otis down for his morning nap. The second kid has to suffer through having his sleep determined by his older brother’s schedule, so a quick nap it is, as I usually have to wake Otis from his slumber to pick up Bode soon after.
During the hour and 15 minutes I have between preschool drop off and pick up, I race around like a maniac. Tidy kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, go through the whole house picking up toys, pillows and everything in between. It’s amazing what you can get done in a short amount of time when you’re not jostling a couple of kiddos. I try to open up my laptop and dive into any freelance work or my endless to-do list. I try really hard to not open up Instagram and start scrolling …
10:30am: Oh well … close up Instagram and go wake Otis to then go pick up Bode from preschool.
While in the car, I watch and respond to any Marco Polo messages, call my mom, and/or listen to one of the many podcasts I’ve added to my library. I try to use this driving time to get something “productive” done, even if it’s just a call or Marco Polo message.
11:30am: We return home and unpack our bags (diaper bag for Mama, school bag for Bode), and play a bit. Bode pulls out his trucks and cars and starts setting them up in the living room, Otis crawls around mimicking his older brother with a toy car, and I turn on our go-to Pandora station: Jack Johnson.
12pm: Lunchtime. We wash hands and Bode pulls over his learning stool to eat at the counter, I place Otis in the high chair, and we get to work. We don’t do fancy lunches; we’re big fans of the PB&J, fruit, and something crunchy (AKA Pirates Booty or veggie straws), and milk. We all eat the same thing for the most part, and I love it. But bring on those baby wipes–PB&J and a 14-month-old is a pure sticky disaster. We would not survive without baby wipes.
12:45pm: Bode has some independent play as I clean up the kitchen (again), and then I start my attempts to calm him down and read a few books before naptime.
1pm: We attempt naptime with Bode. At 2.5 years old, he naps about two-thirds of the time. If he doesn’t fall asleep within 15 minutes or so, I can tell he won’t for the day. I’ve learned to no longer stress about it. You can make your kiddos do a lot of things, but you can’t make them sleep (or eat or poop), and if he’s truly not tired, then it is what it is. Quiet time instead.
We aren’t a screen-free family, but since we strive for less than an hour of TV a day, I save it for later in case Bode doesn’t nap. On goes Disney+, and Bode usually rests nicely on the couch. I join him with Otis in tow for a bit before Otis takes his afternoon nap.
2pm: Otis takes nap #2 (though at 14 months old, I know the days of two naps won’t be lasting much longer).
If the boys both nap, I make like a crazy lady once again during the little bit of nap overlap. I make myself a cup of tea and usually sit at my laptop to try to do some work. Or if writing work isn’t needed, I fold the laundry, figure out what’s for dinner (meal planning is an area my family continues to struggle with), or pay some bills.
If Bode doesn’t nap, I take the time that Otis is sleeping to snuggle with just Bode. He loves this one-on-one time and so do I–even if it means with an episode of Lion Guard on in the background. I don’t believe every single moment of childhood needs to be “educational” or “enriching” in the most expected sense; cuddles on the couch with a TV show can be just as special.
3 – 3:30pm: Once both boys are up for the rest of the day, it’s pure survival until dinnertime. Any other mamas with me!? We have a couple of hours until I start dinner prep, and this is the time slot I save for a new art project to try, puzzles, cookies, or muffins to bake, or a movie if we didn’t watch anything during Bode’s quiet time. The 3 – 5pm span seems to drag so having something in my back pocket saves my sanity.
5:30pm: Dinnertime for the boys. Dinner is the one meal I don’t eat with them, so it’s pure kiddo cuisine. Despite all our continued attempts to encourage them to try new foods, we have two very picky eaters. I try to not focus on the “problem” with this and instead go with the flow, serve them food they love while still adding a bit of diversity to the plate every time as well. Dinner usually involves a lot of chicken nuggets, quesadillas, and “breakfast for dinner” with some samples on the side of other stuff.
6pm: Clean up (once again!). As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like “maid” comes right after “caretaker” on my daily list of duties. Having a dust buster charging in our kitchen 24/7 has become a lifesaver in the clean-up department. It’s one of my all-time favorite hacks–it makes clean up 100x easier and faster.
6:15pm: Baths if needed (we tend to do this every other night) and then pajamas.
6:30pm: Daddy returns home to help with bedtime. But first up: it’s toy pick-up time. We encourage Bode to get into this activity. Our latest hack? Using a timer. We set the timer for five minutes on our phones, and Bode thinks it’s extra fun to race around picking everything up before the timer goes off.
Once toys are packed away for the night, reading time begins. We keep a rotating pile of current favorites in the living room and start going through the pile as the boys enjoy their nightcap (milk). Once again the whole family is together on the couch, and while I’m usually drained and exhausted by this time, I love this little moment where we wrap up the day right where we began. The numerous stressors of the day start to fade away as I watch my boys sipping their milk and listen to Daddy read our wonderful books.
6:45pm: Otis’s bedtime and Bode brushes his teeth.
7pm: Bedtime for Bode. We sing two songs, and I sit with him for a couple of minutes before departing his room. We are strict about bedtime with both boys, rarely anything interrupts this routine or timing. We’re big believers in the importance of sleep and have seen the benefits of this since they were newborns. Seeing the positive effects makes it all the more easier to stick with a strict schedule.
7:10pm: Mama takes a deep breath. Daddy is usually working on dinner for us, and I finish tidying up any remaining toys, then join my husband in the kitchen. As dinner is prepared, we catch up on our days and sit down together to enjoy the meal. We don’t have many opportunities for date nights at the moment, so our nightly dinners together are practically a must. It’s our time.
We finish and tidy up the kitchen; I can’t go to bed with a mess. We wipe down the counters, sweep the floors, and fill up the coffee maker for the following morning. All these little tasks make it so much nicer in the morning. They are non-negotiable for my sanity and daily rhythm.
8 – 8:30pm: The rest of the evening is filled with finishing up any tasks that I wasn’t able to complete earlier, from folding laundry to answering emails, and working on writing assignments. I’m on a mission to save these evenings for myself though, to not have to do much work and instead do all the things that help me relax and recharge (for me that’s reading!). I know I’m a better woman, wife, and mom when I have this time to take care of me.
10PM: Lights out. Time to sleep and get ready to do it all again.