Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"What DO You Do all Day, Mommy?" (warning: long)

Well, Genevieve, it's not easy to explain, so I thought I'd try to record a typical day.

 I'm the homemaker, the housekeeper, the calendar-keeper, the cook.  If I'm keeping up with my work, you probably don't notice it because a well-run house is a background of comfort and stability with the possibility for hobbies, projects, and hospitality.  This is hidden work; I'm not bitter about it - I understand because I can't really sum up my homemaking in a quick sentence and I understand why people don't know how to start a conversation with a homemaker at a social hour over drinks (we stick to editing - more straightforward).  But nevertheless, let's not forget what it takes to care for a house and a family.  Of course, this is my version and other people have different styles and goals.

Wake up 6am to alarm.  Make coffee, bring paper in, clear stuff off dining room table (I usually do this the evening before). Turn washing machine on (there was a load soaking in there; one load is already clean and wet from the night before).  Go to the basement freezer for English muffins for breakfast.  Set out eggs.  Put away clean dishes in the dish drainer to clear the counter.  Pack Ben's lunch - realize I need to refill the peanut jar and go down to the basement freezer to do that and get a brownie for his lunch. Cast my eye over the 30-lb. bag of potatoes I bought last week to see if I can store potatoes successfully in the basement - feel a rotten potato and quickly dig it out for the compost pile. Get dressed, folding the laundry from the drying rack in our  bedroom. Fry eggs, toast English muffins, slice peaches. Get a cup of coffee and read paper for about 4 minutes.

At 7am, wake everybody except Phoebe.  Help everyone assemble breakfasts. Read paper some more.  Dump the bag of peanuts I picked up from my parents' freezer into two trays - put them in hte oven to roast. My husband volunteers to walk the kids to school - he's working from home today, hooray! - and I water the houseplants. Put the next load of laundry in (I sorted out 4 loads yesterday). Make the bed. Phoebe wakes up and starts calling for us - I get her up and change her diaper.  Fry her egg and get her breakfast set up. Keep stirring peanuts and setting timer to remind myself to stir.

At 8am, I quickly rush down to the basement to haul up the peanut butter maker - I can't run to the basement with Phoebe unless I put her in the baby carrier and we're going to be on our own the rest of the morning.  At 8:13, the school crew leaves and because Ben was the one who was 3 minutes late, he will do an extra job of 3 minutes in the afternoon.  I write the note to remind myself.  Help Phoebe with her breakfast. Put the final load of laundry in the washer.

Phoebe is playing on the kitchen floor, so I set up the peanut butter machine, pour in the still-warm peanuts, and make 2 1/2 quarts of peanut butter.  I get out cookie ingredients to warm up, using the empty peanut butter bowl.

Somewhere around 9am, I suit Phoebe up in her rain suit and rain boots (it's muddy) and Phoebe and I head out to the yard.  First I pick up all the black walnuts so Phoebe doesn't get them and stain her clothes.  Then I hang up 4 loads of laundry, working until a squirrel in the tree eats a black walnut directly over my clothesline.  Arghhh!  I dash for a sheet to throw over the wet clothes, but a few things are sprinkled with indelible black walnut dots already. I notice that my husband's white dress shirt has not whitened from its soak in Oxiclean, so I put it in a bucket in the sink with bleach (with a note! so no one splashes bleach around until I get back to it).

At 9:50, Phoebe and I repair to the kitchen where I make cookies and she fusses and plays.  While the cookies bake, I clean up the peanut butter machine.  My husband comes down for a snack, and I get to take the machine down to the basement again while he hangs out with Phoebe.  I give Phoebe a banana and a cookie for a snack - a big one because then we get in the car for some errands.  I added my list, return receipts, and a few entertainment options for Phoebe to my purse.  Oh - and before we leave, I change Phoebe's diaper and dress her.

We drive to a consignment store where I look for a stroller - I can see in 2 minutes that they don't have what I need.  We drive to Target so I can show them that the online price for Ben's Lego set was $5 less than the in-store price that he paid.  This errand has been on my list for several weeks - feels good to get it down.  Phoebe and I go quickly through the store, shopping for rain boots for Genevieve (too expensive, but cute), hiking boots for the husband (too unsure of his taste), bathroom shelves (a nice one in the right size, but at $129, I can wait and hope for a sale), cloth diapers (not toddler size), and then, yes!  a $3 clock for the big kids' room so they can keep track of time better.

We get home at noon, for lunch (leftovers).  At 12:30, as Phoebe plays, I quickly check email and respond to my sister's text about an upcoming vacation.  I shop for cloth diapers online - very confusing.  I put the cookies away.  I answer the door for the Fed-Ex guy. Phoebe and I go back to the yard to pick green beans, jalapenos, and bell peppers.  I also take down the two clean, dry tablecloths which I figure are big targets for the walnut-eaters.  Already there are spots on the one tablecloth! Drat.  I daydream about how to cover the spots.

Phoebe lays down on the floor and sucks her thumb - I ask her if she wants to take her nap and she says "da" (yes).  I fold the tablecloths, and suddenly, Phoebe trips and falls near the laundry room and roars in pain.  A big goose-egg jumps out on her forehead, turning black and blue immediately.  I call the pediatrician for help, and am reassured that the bump means the skull is not injured, but the black-and-blue could migrate down to her eye in a day or so.  Phoebe lets me put an ice-pack on the bump a little bit.  I change her diaper, read her a story, and plunk her in bed.

I return to my computer to edit -  I have a deadline in a few days - and I'm tired, so I drink a cup of oolong tea because it's faster than taking a nap. I work until the big kids come home from school, 3:30, and then it's time to juggle.  I supervise homework, snacks, changing clothes, putting school things away.  Ben does his extra job. I take down the rest of the laundry.  I start making supper.  Phoebe wakes up.  I change her diaper and give her a snack.  I wash the dishes. I keep making supper and drag Genevieve from somewhere to set the table.  After supper at 5:30, Ben washes the dishes (but this is not a linear process - oh no, it takes check-ins and reminders and some help).  My husband has to return to his desk to work. I give Genevieve her piano lesson (not much drama tonight, whew).

I run errands to Rite-Aid and the library with Phoebe and Genevieve; Ben wants to go, too, but he is still washing dishes so he has to stay home. When we get home at 7:30, it's time to clean up the toys and give Phoebe a bath.  I put on her pajamas, help her brush her teeth, and read her a story.  When she's in bed at 8pm, the big kids are basically ready for their story, too (Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech - none of us have read it and we're all enjoying it so far).  Then Ben realizes that he forgot to finish his homework and we have a tense round of tears and natural consequences; he finally agrees that he will try to finish it in the morning (he's usually up early - a morning person).

They are finally in bed by 8:45.  I return to my computer to knock out a little more editing.  At 9:30, I watch an episode of Lilies while I work on a freelance sewing project that I am itching to get off my plate.  My husband joins me, and we end up in bed at 11pm.

That was long and a little boring to write.  But let it stand on the record!

Related posts:  job description for a homemaker, the details of one morning 8 months ago


Jennifer Jo said...

I love this. The little details are fascinating.

Alica said...

Sounds like the Proverbs 31 woman to me! :) (and I'm exhausted just reading) I sure hope you slept well!

jenny_o said...

This sounds surprisingly like my days when our kids were young (considering you do much more food preservation) - especially drinking caffeine because it's quicker than a nap, and reading the paper for four minutes! I once heard housework described as threading beads on a string with no knot at the end. It has always stuck with me because it was so apt. There is an art and a science to running a household well. And it needs a strong body and an organized mind. And the understanding that some days will fall apart and nothing will get done.

G's question - what DO you do all day - reminds me of a story about a housewife whose husband always asked her what she did that day, when he arrived home from work. Her answer was always "oh, nothing much." One day she was not feeling well and could not do the housework, so things got pretty chaotic. When husband arrived home, he asked what in the world happened. Her answer: "You know that 'nothing much' I usually do all day? Today I didn't do it." Your description of a well-run house as a background that allows everything else that is good to flourish is excellent.

Polly said...

I did a post like this a few years ago and really enjoyed going back and reading it again recently...and noting how the season of life has changed.

Mostly I'm amazed at how much work you do in that hour alone in the morning! I don't do any work until after my kids wake up (between 7:30-8:00). Instead it's about caffeine, sometimes Bible/prayer, sometimes a workout, sometimes reading the news.....nothing productive. I really do find different people's morning routines absolutely fascinating!!

Shauna said...

I enjoyed your play by play! It is neat to know that Moms all over are doing their own version of what you describe. At the same time, I am doing my own things, different but the same, in my own corner of the world. Somehow comforting.


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