What does a stay-at-home mom do?

This is my last week as a full-time stay-at-home mom! Sniff sniff.

Although part of me is looking forward to getting back into the newsroom and getting into more of a routine, I have really enjoyed my four-month “vacation.”

A couple friends of mine have asked the question I’m sure any full-time working person (myself included, before C was born) wants to know: what do I [or any SAHM] do all day?

Before I went on maternity leave, I figured staying home would give me lots of time to pursue hobbies and get things done around the house that I simply didn’t have time for while working. While it’s true I definitely have more time for both those things without a pesky 40+ hour weekly commitment (plus commute – yuck) getting in the way, being a stay-at-home mom definitely isn’t the leisurely life one might imagine.

Within the first few days of bringing Corban home from the hospital, I emailed my friends and whined that sitting at my desk at work all day was WAY easier than navigating the uncharted waters of breastfeeding and convincing a newborn to sleep at night. That was true for the first few weeks, to put it mildly. Being a 24/7 buffet is exhausting. I remember feeling stressed that I couldn’t find the time for something as simple as taking some cute newborn pictures of him. Feeding, napping, feeding, changing diapers and feeding took up most of our time. It was rough.

[Not always this sleepy.]

Things have definitely since gotten easier. Corban is still quite time-consuming though. If we’re home all day, his awake time is spent feeding, changing and playing with him, which usually requires full attention and involves talking, singing, rattling things, walking around, bouncing or just making silly faces, but sometimes can just be him kicking his legs on his play mat while I do things around the house (he LOVES to kick), though I never seem to get as much done as I anticipate. He takes about three naps a day, usually no more than 45 minutes to an hour each, and that’s when I shower, eat, go for a run, do things online, do real chores, etc. I am so lucky to have Peter at home with me working from the couch most days. He provides a much-needed occasional extra hand and constant companion.

[Multitasking: making curtains while wearing napping baby. I am usually not this domestic.]

Most days we get out of the house for some reason or another, and Corban usually responds well to the change of pace. We go to a weekly women’s morning Bible study, a couple evening Bible studies, baby yoga, various appointments and meetings, occasional playdates (really more for mom than baby), out on walks, out on errands. It’s amazing how busy you can become without really trying.

[Baby yoga.]

For the past couple months, Corban has been going to bed around 7 p.m. most nights, so while daytime is Corban time, Peter and I have our evenings free to relax, cook dinner and do stuff around the house. I have to admit, even though C is sleeping relatively great, I have such a hard time making myself go to bed any earlier than 11. I could be getting a lot more sleep each night, but it’s so tempting to stay up during those hours of freedom, and I’m naturally a night owl anyway.

I try not to stress if I get nothing productive done during the day, knowing I’ll have a few hours at night, but it is hard not to feel guilty when I’m totally unproductive. On the flip side, since I know my time at home is limited, I also feel guilty if I don’t spend every waking second taking advantage of my time with Corban. So I pretty much can’t win, but I’d rather feel guilt over housework than bonding time.

But to succinctly answer the question at hand, a stay-at-home mom to a young baby – at least if that SAHM is me – focuses on Baby. Housework, hobbies and everything else just have to take a backseat. I have time for those things, but not as much time as you (or I) would expect. Maybe the fact that I am going back to work affects this thinking, but all other priorities seem less urgent when I don’t want to waste any time I could be spending snuggling my little guy.

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