The Invisible Work of a stay at home mom.
"So... What did you even do all day?"
You wake up at 2:00 am to your 5-year-old child crawling in bed with you. You open your eyes just for a second to see what is going on. You hear his very tired voice saying “Mommy I had a bad dream, can I sleep with you?” You are way too tired to get up and put him back in his room where he should be, so you let him stay. You give him a pillow and cover him up and you lay back down. You sleep for about 30 minutes tossing and turning cause you're too hot. Wake up to make sure that he is breathing. Wake up every 30 or so minutes to check on him. You have gotten about 3 hours of total sleep, when you should have had about 8.
You wake up on Monday at 8:30 am to your alarm going off and you think “Hmmm, maybe ill silence it just once? I am still so tired” Then you think again “If I do that my day is going to be longer because I didn’t wake up on time.” So you turn the alarm off and open your eyes and start to wake up. You look next to you and he is still asleep. “He looks so peaceful when he's asleep.” You just wanna let him sleep in so that you can get up and make a cup of coffee and fully wake up, but you cant. So you reach over and tickle him to wake him up. Give him some kisses on the cheek and say “Its time to wake up and start our day!” He rolls over and says “Ok mommy but I'm so tired.” I explain to him if he would have slept in his bed then he wouldn't be as tired as he is because he would have gotten a full night of sleep.
We get out of bed. By this time its already 9:00 am. I have to make my coffee and get him some breakfast, then get him excited enough to wanna start his school day from home with me. You get everything you are gonna need to complete the school day for the day. You get your computer, homework papers that you have already prepped for the whole week & any writing utensils you will need to complete the days work. You have him sit down at his desk and give him his first paper. Making sure he reading everything. Correcting him when he is wrong. Making sure he is sounding out every letter so that he can learn how to read by himself. Ok, so the first paper I'm realizing is taking way to long. He isn’t focusing on what he is supposed to be doing. He is trying to find reasons not to keep going on the work. By looking at me and trying to start small talk. This is fine normally but, at this very moment he needs to be focusing on his school work and not be worrying about anything else. Getting up and trying to get toys to play with, when he knows no toys till his school work Is done. Grabbing at the PlayStation controller wanting to play video games.
By this time, you have been dealing for about 30 minutes of him acting up, your blood is boiling and you have had almost enough of it! You have asked him many times to focus on what he has to do for this school work, and you have tried everything you can think of to make him focus. You SNAP! And start yelling “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS! YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON YOUR SCHOOL WORK RIGHT NOW!!!!” He looks at you with the craziest look and says “Mommy why are you yelling at me?” You say “I have tried very calmly many times to get you to listen and you didn’t, so I had to yell.” Yeah so it got his attention for sure. He then starts to do his work again. On and off fighting me, I'm having to yell many more times in between.
He gets a few of his pages done. You have to be breathing down his neck right next to him to make sure he is getting it done and not doing things he not supposed to be doing. So, in turn, that means that you can't get anything done around the house or do anything else until his work is done. That makes you even more upset and mad cause you know that means your day is going to be longer than it was supposed to be. Everything for that day is going to need to be pushed back. You have to wash the dishes, wash clothes, pick up the house, clean the kitchen, take out the trash, clean the bathroom, wash clothes and fold them and if not then no one is wearing clean clothes. If you can figure out what you're making for dinner. If you even get the chance to do that. You have to get a shower eventually and you have to bath him as well cause its been a long week!
It's almost 1:00 pm and he has finished all his homework sheets and now he has to do some computer work. This means you have to sit there with him to make sure he does this right too. Not to give him the answers but to be the “teacher” you have to be at this moment in time. To support him in case he has a question or needs help with anything. Your thinking “How in the world do they expect a 5-year-old who just started kindergarten to know exactly what to do on a computer?” “He is barely pushing 6 years old and having to do all of this and expecting them to be able to do it by themselves, or having the time in the day to sit and guide them through it?” After 5 hours of the paperwork he had to do right when we first woke up, and now 3 assignments that are 28 pages each. Your brain is on overdrive. You have had 3 cups of coffee cause that's all you can do. Only getting up to go to the bathroom and to get him something to eat or drink. Your nerves are beyond shot at this moment. “We have been sitting here doing school work for 5 hours now, there is no way they can fit this all into a school day at school?” “Why are they sending so many things for them to do now that they are at home?”
Another 2 hours pass by and it's now its almost 3:00 pm. He has stopped to talk about air, video games & anything that is not school work about 30 times and he still has 7 pages left on his last 28-page computer assignment. You take it back and try and just get through it. Getting more and more frustrated cause every time you look at the clock and time is flying by like time travel. Giving you less time to get anything else done that u need to get done as well, for this house to function properly.
It's now 3:30 pm and finally the last page of the assignment is done. You can breathe just for a minute that everything is finally done! Now that it's all done you have to make him a snack cause all that work made him hungry and dinner wont be done for a while cause you have been doing this all day. You go out to the kitchen and find him something to snack on till you figure out dinner. You have not eaten anything yourself today except for almost a full pot of coffee. You are so jittery from sitting for 6 and 1/2 hours. You finally get to stand up after sitting for such a long time. Your legs are sore from not moving, your toes have fallen asleep so many times that it takes double the time for them to begin to get feeling again.
You got him his snack to eat and now you have to turn his assignments in for the day. To turn them in you have to take pictures with your phone of every page & crop them. This takes another 20 minutes just turning them into the right class they are posed to be in. Then you have to file the paper pages you did at home so when and if school does start again you are going to have to hand in all the pages for them to pass. Now it is 4:00 pm and you have a ton of housework you still have to complete for the day for yourself. On a normal school day it takes you about 2 hours to complete your house chores you have to do for the day. Now you have to cut that time in half. This just makes your head hurt. I say to myself “If he was in school this would all of been done by now and I could finally do something for myself!” “There is no way to fit anything in to do for myself today!” You get no “me” time to do anything cause you have to finish the housework and make dinner.
Now to pick out something for dinner “Hmmm, I'm gonna make baked pork chops with green beans and corn.” Easy enough. I'll thaw out the chops and throw them in with seasoning in 2 pans and throw them in the oven. Your making extra in anticipation of the school day you have with him tomorrow. Everyone will be having leftovers for the next day or so, so I'm able to get my housework done that I need to get done. Thinking that far ahead so you can plan out to make sure you can get everything done in a certain amount of time. All the while your brain is going a million miles a minute and you're asking yourself so many questions like “Maybe ill have a shorter day tomorrow?”, “Maybe he will finish his work faster, cause he's a little bit used to it?”, “Will I have time for myself tomorrow because I didn’t today?” Knowing that tomorrow is going to be just as bad, but telling yourself that so that you're not completely dreading the next day.
Its 7:45 pm and everyone has eaten their dinner, including you. Which will be your first meal of the day, because you have been doing everything for everyone else all day and you didn't think of even feeding yourself. Even though your stomach has been growling since about 1:00 pm. Gathering and washing all the dishes from dinner and putting them in the dishwasher. Wiping up the counters and re-vacuuming the house. Now it's almost 8:30 pm and its a half-hour past his bedtime. You fight and argue with him for another 10 minutes while to get his teeth brushed and let him pick out a movie for bedtime. When he gets in bed it's about to be 9:00 pm. You tuck him into bed and you say “I’m sorry mommy got so frustrated today & yelled so much and was in such a bad mood.” “Mommy is very stressed out and I don’t want you to think its anything you're doing wrong, I know you are very frustrated and confused about everything that is going on as much as I am and this is how you show it cause you don’t understand.” “I love you so very much, please do mommy a favor and can we try a little harder tomorrow to do your schoolwork?”
After your talk to have with him to reassure that everything is fine, you let him pick out a book for you to read to him for bed. When the book is done you kiss him, tell him good night and sweet dreams and tell him “Mommy needs you to get lots of sleep tonight so we can do better tomorrow.” He says “Ok mommy I love you too good night.”
Your next task is to clean what you can downstairs so that you don’t have to do it tomorrow. Everything that you couldn’t get done today. So you get the dishes done, all the clothes folded and ready to put away. Clean the kitchen and set up the school staff for the following day. It's almost 10:00 pm when you finally get everything done around the house and get to relax. You remember that neither of you got a bath today, so I guess we will try and get one tomorrow. As you sit on the couch watching a show you love so much, all ready to watch a few episodes and you hear little footsteps on the stairs “dunk, dunk, dunk”, you look and see it's your son saying “Mommy I'm hungry!” You know damn well he just ate a full meal 45 minutes before bed and said he was full. You tell him “You're not hungry you just wanna stay down here and you need to go to bed now!” He looks at you with tears in his eyes saying “But, mommy I'm so so so hungry!” You know he's full but the idea that he is going to bed hungry makes you feel so bad so you get him something small to snack on. He takes 20 minutes to eat a small bowl of fruit only cause he wants to stay downstairs. You brush his teeth again for the last time of the night and you walk him back up to his room, tuck him in, kiss him and tell him goodnight.
When you come back downstairs it's a little past 10:30 pm and now you only have time to watch one episode of your show. Something that you were excited about all day. You sit on the couch and relax and scroll ur phone on social media for what seemed to be about 5 minutes. You look up in the corner of your phone and you realize it you have been on there for 30 minutes. It's too late to even try and get a show in cause you have to get some sleep just to wake up and do this all over again in the morning. You shut the TV off and brush ur teeth and walk upstairs to go and lay down to get some sleep, because you didn’t get much sleep the night before. Hoping that you can get some sleep tonight. That your child will sleep in his bed all night. You lay down, plug your phone in and cover yourself up, praying to get a lot of sleep.
Your brain starts running thinking: from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to sleep you were doing for everyone else but yourself. Worrying about the chores you do on a day to day basis for your household to run right. You did not do anything for yourself at all today. You made sure your child had all he needed for the day. I made sure the house got everything it needed for the day. Prepared for the next day so it may be easier. Just praying for a little bit of a break so you can breathe. Maybe you will be able to watch those episodes you were so excited about watching tonight? Will it get any easier? Will life ever go back to the way it was before? Will I ever be able to catch up or even get a break? When will it ever feel right again? I'll never know, until.….….
*You finally fell asleep at 2:30 am & have to be up at 8:30 am*