Gina, mom of 7-year-old Julia and 6-year-old Lily, is the mom people think of when asking stay-at-home moms what they do all day. Some people don't understand how moms with kids in school during the day manage to fill their time. As is obvious from Gina's day-in-the life, those moms' days are quite full!
7:05 a.m.: My cell phone alarm goes off, but as usual, I hit the snooze button. Even though my kids have been sleeping through the night for years now, I still feel as though I’ve never made up that early slumber deficit.
7:20 a.m.: On days my husband doesn’t go into work early, we divide and conquer: I prep breakfast and make lunches in the kitchen while he wakes two reluctant girls. I’m convinced they’ve morphed into teenagers already, based on sleep habits alone!
8:05 a.m.: I prod my kids to finish their food, brush their teeth and gather everything they need for the school day: gym shoes, snacks, water bottle, homework, lunchbox, any special assignments. And of course, boots and snow pants. Winter in Wisconsin can be tough, but we love living here. Our family moved to the area almost five years ago, and it definitely feels like home.
8:20 am: It’s classroom campout day for my second-grader, and she’s debating whether or not to bring her pillow. Meanwhile, my kindergartner is moving as slowly as molasses, dawdling over her Rice Krispies, getting sidetracked by the markers and art paper strewn on the kitchen floor. It’s around this time that I sometimes start to feel the cold sweat of “OMG, we are going to miss the bus, we’re running out of time!” My heart rate goes up, my breathing quickens and my brain is buzzing. I’m constantly moving, whirling around to grab coats and stuffing them in my daughters’ arms, offering a few last sips of milk, digging through the dryer to find the pants my daughter insists on wearing practically every day.
8:31 a.m.: The bus rolls by and my daughters are safely aboard. I like to stand at the front door and wave one last time as the bus loops back a minute later.
9 a.m.: I flip on some music as I tackle my morning chores: clean up the disastrous kitchen, feed the guinea pigs, answer any interesting e-mails, work on various volunteer stuff. Ever since both my kids started going to school full-time, I’ve found it easy to lose track of time while I’m at home: there’s always some new mini project to dive into.
10:30 a.m.: I head out the door to exercise. Right now I’m training for my first half-marathon, and I’m loving the warmer spring temperatures for outdoor runs.
12-1 p.m.: I’m eating lunch, with NPR playing in the background; it’s eerily quiet, almost unnerving, when the kids are away at school, and I’d rather not hear the sound of my own chewing. I sip the remains of my mid-morning coffee (a staple for me every day).
1-3 p.m.: I look over my to-do list, and it’s a lot of minutiae: order multivitamins, sew Girl Scout patches on vests, go to post office, buy classmate’s birthday gift. I plan out what I need to get done immediately and use my remaining afternoon hours to work on a new blog post. I love to connect with other moms and share parenting experiences: the good, the frustrating, the hilarious. I’d love to write a book eventually, but for now I’ve found those smaller “bites”—short articles—are a more manageable goal for me.
4:02 p.m.: My girls and I hop into the car after school. They’re brimming with stories, talking over each other in their eagerness to share everything that happened in school that day. We have a snack and, most days, drive to Tae Kwon Do class. I signed my daughters up for Tae Kwon Do this January, and it’s been a really positive experience thus far. As a mom, I love the emphasis on goal-setting, and also the way learning this discipline fosters empowerment and self-assurance in kids.
5:50 p.m.: We’re home and everyone—including Mama—is a tad cranky and ready to refuel with dinner. I’d love to say I’m ambitious enough to prep something ahead of time, but most days, we end up eating something ridiculously simple: pasta or veggie tacos, sometimes a dressed-up rice and beans bowl loaded with avocado and cheese. After dinner, the kids goof around or work on homework or art projects. My husband and I try to squeeze in some boring adult tasks…dishes, laundry, bill paying, etc. Sometimes we all play a game or watch a show together. We recently introduced our girls to "Star Wars," and our oldest is especially enamored with the movies.
7:45 p.m.: My husband and I give the kids a heads-up: time to get ready for bed. Despite my best intentions, I’ve never quite mastered the bedtime routine, which seems to drag on for eons in our household. Even if it’s not a bath night, there’s a long, drawn-out routine of brushing teeth, getting a cup of “night water,” changing into PJs and reading books. But I’m glad I have this quiet time with my daughters, especially as they get older and school and extracurricular activities take up more of their waking hours.
9:05 p.m.: Both of my girls are (fingers crossed) finally asleep. On a rare night, my husband and I will watch a movie (we love Redbox!). Sometimes I’ll even crack open a book. Most of the time, though, I zone out on my smart phone, reading completely random stuff about parenting and current world events. Having the Internet at my fingertips has been both a blessing and a curse as a mom. In one sense, it offers an instant connection with the outside world; on the other hand, too much information exacerbates my tendency to worry.
11-midnight: I set my alarm and finally shut my eyes, grateful I get to do it all again the next day.